Time’s always flying. A year ago today - notebook excerpts from waking up on England’s fair shores for the first time in three years. . . . “I’d woken a few times in the night as the dew pushed through my sleeping bag and chilled my body. Each time I’d turn over and, adjusting my eyes, stare deep into the rooftop that had been my unfaltering companion for the last few years, the night sky dotted with a million stars. The hours drew on and as had happened a thousand times before, the light slowly softened into a watercolour of pastel hues, creeping through my eyelids and bringing me out of sleep. I breathed in deeply and sat up. The vastness of the world was right there. From the bottom of my feet was the line that I'd been drawing for the past three years. I traced the line in my mind, following its ebbs and flows, lingering for a time on all the moments that have quietly moulded me; of fears, loneliness and confusion, and of the wonder, beauty and euphoria. The line’s almost run out, only a few more days of drawing. . . It was a truly magical moment waking up on the shores of my home country this morning.”
Hidden in the shadows of the setting sun there was a secret silence that swept over this land, peaceful and happy we seemed too small to puncture it.
Some words that I wrote and pictures that I took | Africa 2017 . . . These were places where life was lived on the streets, everywhere I’d been life was lived on the streets, it cost money to be inside. And I was aware again of the same daily rituals that repeated themselves, the same paces and processes that I’d been privileged enough to observe almost daily for the past two years. Dusty litter-strewn streets lay under the watchful gaze of old women who sat chewing with that timeless rhythm of the aged, their faces folded like old felt hats. All around children ran free, squirming in their grimy torn vests, the men congregated drinking or smoking, talking carelessly together with the dry throaty rattle of pebbles rolled down a gulley. And on beyond the village my road continued, into the horizon the leathery arm of wrinkled mud stretched, countless like the body of a snake into the hills and the skies and the setting of the sun.
Back in the summer of 2015 I was riding the continental divide trail up through the USA to Canada and took a little detour into Glacier National Park. After camping overnight on a pass somewhere in the park the new day was ushered in with skies that were a water-colour canvas of soft pastel hues and some strange sniffing around the open door of my tent. Billy, as he insisted on being called, clearly knew a thing or two about the ‘blue hour’, and being a vainglorious creature he was determined not to miss out on a good photo opportunity. He woke me up and led me around for twenty minutes or so, posing in all the right places. I’ll admit, he was quite the diva but a professional nonetheless. I guess this wasn’t his first time in front of a lens.
Mongolia has to be one of the most magical places I’ve been lucky enough to travel through. It’s no surprise that, as the world’s ‘wildest’ country (by pop. density at least), it contains an almost endless amount of vast sweeping horizons, rolling mountains and boundless deserts. The land is ancient and storied, centuries of human histories have been written within it as the games of empire have waxed and waned. Although the Honda is now slowly usurping the horse, the fingertips of encroaching modernity still seem to be viewed with a cautious eye by many, and as long as that remains true, Mongolia will continue to cast its wild spell.
This morning I’ve been going back over some photos from my time riding across Africa last year for an upcoming piece I’m writing for the inaugural bike packing journal from @bikepackingcom and @bunyanvelo. The hours have steadily tip-toed by in a foggy haze of coffee aromas and ephemeral memories which, only a year on, already seem to be blurred around the edges - these snapshots seem to serve as the muse for misrememberings, a rosy hue cast over the past, but I’m okay with that - that’s how memories should be. . . 1 Like clockwork afternoon storms would roll across the Karoo Desert of South Africa, this time I managed to escape the thunder and lightning and caught the tail end of the storm as the sun snuck beneath the horizon. . . 2/3 Littering the land of Lesotho is a warren like network of single track which connects mountains, valleys and villages. If you’re willing to spend half the day carrying your bike they’re a real treat for two wheels. . . 4/5 Karma is real. Chasing a deadline to submit my film about riding in Canada to its first ever film festival I decided to fast forward 200km and hop onto a bus bound for Lusaka. Sadly the driver wasn’t too competent and the bus quickly became a bit like a washing machine as we tumbled our way down a hillside. Thankfully, everybody was able to make it out in one (or a few) pieces. . . 6/7 Finding a nice cosy cave to sleep in on a mountain side in the Serengeti only to be awoken in the middle of the night by a group of tribesmen who had come to partake in a ceremony there. I was as surprised to see them as they were to see me. Hands down, it is the most precious memory I think I made from my three years ride around the world. . . 8 Mornings in Ethiopia would usually find me taking some time over my morning bread and coffee and watch the slow procession of people make their way out to work in the fields for the day. . . 9 Enjoying a moment of cool calmness in the Sudanese Sahara before being thrown into the daily oven - things got hot quickly out there as I was riding across the desert in July, temperatures were hitting 53C daily (127F). I never want to feel my blood boiling like that again!
Returning to @5pointfilm Festival last weekend was rather special for me - a year ago I arrived there to premiere my first film, and in doing so met @joeyschusler who invited me to, at the end of 2017, help him tell the remarkable story of Rajesh Magar (@rjripper), a young Nepali mountain bike guide and 4 time national champion. This weekend marked the completion of that process, sharing RJ’s story on the big screen for the first time in front of packed audience. Needless to say everybody was both touched and inspired by RJ’s story in equal measure, and the film, ‘RJ Ripper’ took home the spirit of 5 Point award, a prize for the film which most embodies the 5 founding principles of the festival; Respect, Purpose, Balance, Humility and Commitment - 5 principles that couldn’t better describe RJ. It was also great to see ‘A Time To Remeber’ close the festival, a short film I’ve been working on recently with @jimmy.hamer and @samoakesfilms. Both will be available online in the coming months. But for now preparation is at full throttle here in Whitehorse, Yukon where we are gearing up for a 20 day 10 man ski and rafting expedition through the Tatshenshini river basin. Really excited to go off the grid for a few weeks and spend some time with great humans in incredible landscapes.
Its ridiculously exciting to see Rajesh Magar (@rjripper) nominated as one of @natgeo’s 2018 Adventurers of the Year. @joeyschusler and I had the privilege to spend a month filming with him in Nepal last December and delving into his incredible story; from welding his first bike as a young teenager to becoming three time national champion by the age of 20. But beyond a fantastic bike rider we couldn't have met a more humble, hard working and deserving person as RJ, I have the utmost admiration for what he has, and will, achieve. - - We are now in post production of RJ's 20 minute documentary, but you can catch a few of the cuts and learn more about the man himself following the link in my bio. - - Huge thanks to @outdoorresearch, @yeticycles, @envecomposites, @smithoptics and @fox for all their support on this incredible story.
At 19.30 this evening I'm giving my second ever talk about my bike ride around the world and also having the BC premiere of The Frozen Road at @thevimff. So for any Vancouver folks who are going to be twiddling their thumbs this evening then head on down to the Rio Theatre, just a handful of tickets left! . . . 📸 Christmas Day in South Africa 2016 . . . #bikepacking #aroundtheworld #mountains #cycling #bikewander #travel #explore #adventure #africa
What a great great weekend it was at the Edinburgh Mountain Film Festival, short but very sweet. I had the chance to listen to the incredibly inspiring journeys made by both @outensarah and @mrmarkbeaumont, further fuelling my appetite for the future adventures currently on the cards, and I even managed to scoop the 'Best Film' award for The Frozen Road! It's now time to head over to Colorado to begin editing the #rjripperfilm that I helped shoot in Nepal late last year. Really excited to delve back into this again and share @rjripper incredible story! . . 📸 camping on the Peel River, NWT in 2016. The temperature hit a rather chilly -34C that night. . . . #bikepacking #mountains #adventuretravel #explore #aroundtheworld #cycling #instatravel #intothewild #journey #films #camping #winteriscoming #arctic
I did a Q&A with @bikepackingcom recently where I go into a little more detail about my ride around the world and the making of The Frozen Road. There's also plenty of photos from the 'north' accompanying the interview too, so please check it out if you're interested. The link is in their bio :) Photo from the 'finish line' of the Americas. . . . #bikepacking #cycling #adventuretravel #explore #wilderness #arctic #wanderbybike #aroundtheworld #cycling #mountains #journey
My film about cycling alone through the Canadian Arctic in winter was released online earlier today - if you haven't already checked it out then please head over to the link in my bio and it would be great to hear what you think :) . . . PS, if you would like to donate to the cost of making this FREE film, and help more films happen in the future, then I also have a 'name your price' download of the film available on my website. Any amount, small or large, whatever you think it's worth, would be a hugeeee help! Thank you 🙏🙏🙏🙏
ITS LIVE! The Frozen Road is now FREE TO STREAM online. Follow the link in my bio to watch it. I'd love to hear your thoughts so please let me know :) EXCITING!!! Also, for any kind souls who would like to support The Frozen Road and help me turn the rest of the 3 years footage into a feature film, I have a 'name your price' download link on my website so you can watch it at your leisure AND help make more films a reality in the future! Thanks!! . . Andddd if you enjoyed it, please spread the word and share it!! . . #bikepacking #mountains #arctic #winter #adventure #explore #wilderness #solitude #camping #extreme
12:00 GMT TOMORROW I'm going to be releasing my multi-award winning film The Frozen Road for FREE online! I'm really excited to finally share it and hear people's thoughts. Links to follow, STAY TUNED! . . . #bikepacking #arctic #films #travel #mountainbike #adventure #winter #wild #camping #aroundtheworld #biketouring #wildernessculture #explore #nature #solo #landscape #travelgram #outdoorlife #igers #mountains
People of BC (and beyond?!?)! I’m going to be giving a talk at the Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival on Feb 13th about my bike ride around the world. The talk is followed by a screening of 'The Frozen Road' and a Q&A too – please head to the link in my bio to get tickets if this tickles your fancy :) Thanks! @thevimff . . . 📸 from bivvying atop a Patagonian volcano back in 2015 - few places have ever rivalled this to spend a night #cycling #aroundtheworld #adventure #films #mountains #bikepacking #travel
I’ve just returned from a brilliant couple of weeks chasing snow around northern Scotland whilst shooting a new short film I’m making about man, memories and mountains. It’s been wonderful after the past few years searching for adventure in distant places to rediscover the beauty and wildness that rests within our own shores. More photos to follow! I’m really excited to share more of this project later in the year, but for now here is the Shenavall bothy sitting pretty beneath a starry sky last week. 📸@jimmy.hamer #mountains #winter #scotland #snow #nightsky #filmmaking #wild
It was one of those rare winter days in the Cairngorms this week, sunshine and snow providing the perfect ingredients for a fun day out. Here is @jimmy.hamer descending down the Taillear gully off the back of Ben Macdui en route to a night in the Corrour bothy. #mountains #skiing #sunset #scotland #adventure #adventuretravel #winter
I'm heading up to Scotland for the next month, skis in tow, to work on a new film. Hoping for lots of snow, secluded bothies and spectacular views that might just match this one from Garibaldi Park, BC Canada, the last time I had two planks under my feet 📸@sillyscenes #mountains #winter #adventure #skiing #scotland