The Man Who Bikepacked The World
Across five continents, for three years, in temperatures from +53°C to -40°C and on a budget of $3 a day, one man and his bike fought fatigue, loneliness and a wolf pack to make it home...
Sometimes, courage is not measured in the charge, on a grand stage, witnessed by all. Instead, it flickers from afar, like a lonely campsite deep in the wilderness, as remote from home, help and comfort as it is possible to get. Here, bravery is the simple act of forcing yourself out of that tent and into a blizzard-cursed morning for another despairing day of toil, punctuated by moments of panic.
When Ben Page set out to ride his fat bike around the world, across untracked terrain and inhospitable wastes, he was 22 years old. All this millennial, so-called ‘snowflake’, had was his bike, his backpack and the money he saved from his student loans by forgoing the ‘alcohol and late-night kebabs’ of his peers.
Some 15,000km later he found himself in the Canadian Arctic, during winter, cycling along the frozen Yukon river. He came here with some romantic notions of “withdrawing into the wilderness” but ended up discovering the true weight of his own courage...
There’s a fire inside us that says I want this challenge to see if I can get through it
Q: In your film the Frozen Road there’s a scene when you’re alone and being shadowed by a hunting wolf pack, howling in the night – did you question your decision to be there?
A: ‘You have lots of doubts when things start to go wrong. When things are going right you think you’ve made the right decision, and then when things go wrong you think you’ve made the wrong decision. What I don’t say in the film but I really do believe, is that one of the reasons I went through the Canadian Arctic in the winter was that I wanted something to be really hard. There’s that fire inside of us that says: “I want this challenge to see if I can get through it.”’
‘I had been through tough challenges in the past but had always got through them to look back and think that they were really formative experiences, which even though they were miserable at the time I knew were worthwhile.’
Q: You were clearly terrified by the potential outcome of that situation but did you learn any strategies in your three-year trip to deal with fear and exhaustion?
A: ‘The thing I found strength in was not just knowing, but being able to practice the idea that everything is fairly transient; knowing these low moments are transient and just accepting them but knowing that in two hours time, or a day’s time, you are going to be in a different level in your mind. If you need to get out of bed and get pushing then you slap yourself in the face and say: “Just get going, fight it!” And there are those times where you think, well let’s just ride with this and see what I am thinking.’