Ben Web page: The person who cycled throughout the frozen Arctic


(CNN) — Ben Web page arrange the shot. He erected the tripod, hooked up the digicam, pressed file.

Treading rigorously to make sure his footprints within the snow had been out of sight — he received on his bike and cycled previous the lens, eyes fastened on the huge untouched panorama forward.

Web page, aged 22 on the time, was in Yukon territory, the Canadian Arctic, on probably the most grueling part of a round-the-word cycle odyssey.

He had left town of Whitehorse, and was roughly 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) away from Tuktoyaktuk, the tip of the American continent.

To get there he must cycle for 30 days alongside roads and frozen rivers, contending with snow storms, bitter winds, and temperatures as little as minus 40 Celsius (minus 40 Fahrenheit)

Earlier than beginning his round-the-world journey at Ushuaia, Argentina, the southernmost level of the Americas, Web page had barely picked up a digicam.

However 15 months and greater than 10,000 miles later, he discovered himself in northern Canada, filming the footage that may kind an award-winning documentary, “The Frozen Highway.”

Regardless of his movie receiving distinguished recognition — together with “finest journey movie” on the New York Wild Movie Competition 2018 and “finest director” on the Bilbao Mendi Movie Competition — Web page confesses his awkward relationship with the digicam.

“It is contrived,” he tells CNN, of his definitive shot within the snow. “It edits properly collectively, as a result of it is fluid. However there’s 10 minutes both aspect of that shot of me strolling back and forth from the tripod.”


It was a way of journey slightly than a cinematic imaginative and prescient that despatched him on his approach. Web page had dreamed of touring the world by bicycle, and in 2014, after graduating from Durham College with a level in geography, he determined to make it actuality.

“I used to be 22, no mortgage, no girlfriend. I had nothing protecting me and tying me at residence. So I set off,” he says.

The journey lasted three years, overlaying 40,000 miles (64,000km) and 5 continents: the Americas, Africa, Europe and Asia. The Arctic was its pinnacle. For Web page, it was a psychological problem as a lot because it was a bodily one.

“God is aware of why we set ourselves these loopy challenges, however we do,” he says.

Worry of frostbite

Page climbing in the Richardson Mountains

Web page climbing within the Richardson Mountains

Courtesy of Ben Web page

Web page shouldn’t be the primary to cycle the Arctic, and nor will he be the final. There are industrial biking excursions accessible from Vancouver to Tuktoyaktuk. Cycle Canada organizes a 35 day journey, overlaying 1,935 miles (3,135 kilometers), for slightly below $7,000.

However Web page’s journey was completely different.

There have been no scorching showers and electrical energy, nor was there the luxurious of relaxation days.

Web page rode alone in late winter, tenting most nights, other than the uncommon event he discovered a cabin during which to cover from the relentless wind.

He rigorously rationed his meals — which value about $four a day — and prayed that his calculations added up, regardless of the snowstorms that slowed him down.

“You’ve got simply received to rise up and go,” Web page says. “It is not precisely steely braveness or bravery, there is no possibility, so that you simply do it.”

Cycle Canada’s Bud Jorgenson would say the other — that it requires a variety of bravery. Jorgenson has cycled the route twice himself, however solely in the summertime. He says he is aware of of just one different, in addition to Web page, who has dared cycle to this point north within the winter months.

“However he solely received so far as the Yukon-British Columbia border, and the chilly received to him,” Jorgenson says, explaining how the person had suffered from a extreme case of frostbite.

From the UK, Web page had barely skilled snow, not to mention a lot of it. The coldest of winters in Britain abruptly appeared ludicrously delicate.

Most days had been at the least minus 20 levels Celsius, and these temperatures would drop drastically in sturdy winds and in a single day. Web page grew a mustache of icicles, and nonetheless bears gentle scars from the frost nip on his cheeks.

Frozen face: Page regularly had a mustache of icicles.

Frozen face: Web page often had a mustache of icicles.

Courtesy of Ben Web page

The chilly made the smallest of selections vital. Merely taking off his gloves to movie or fiddle along with his bike risked exposing his fingers to frostbite. The ache when his frozen arms began to thaw was excruciating, like nothing he had skilled earlier than.

“I would catch myself simply shouting the air blue,” Web page says. “There is not any one round and also you simply go a bit mad. Then I would catch myself and be like, ‘Ben, regular now, regular, watch out.'”

Alone within the Arctic

The isolation took its toll. Web page realized there was a positive line between solitude and loneliness — or as he calls it, a “fixed duality.”

A longing for solitude had pushed the journey, Web page loves the liberty of being alone. However then there was the flipside. “There are the moments when issues begin going unsuitable, when worry begins creeping in,” he says.

“These are the lonely moments. Once you understand that you’ve got put your self on this place. Nobody actually is aware of the place you might be — and does anybody actually care?”

The bottom of the lows was when Web page discovered himself trapped on the Peel river, 40 miles away from the following level of civilization. He had been following the Dempster freeway, a gravel street that cuts throughout the Arctic, however biking alongside hefty vehicles had been powerful.

When Web page reached the small hamlet of Fort Macpherson, locals instructed him of an off-road path to the following village, alongside a frozen river.

However on the primary evening the tough and unpredictable climate took a flip for the more serious and he discovered himself trapped on the river by a snowstorm. The one approach out was to push his bike and his belongings alongside the river. Worry, starvation and loneliness set in.

Risk of frostbite was a constant hazard while filming his journey.

Threat of frostbite was a relentless hazard whereas filming his journey.

Courtesy of Ben Web page

Web page solely had sufficient meals left for one and a half days. At evening he might hear the howls of the wolves.

“They do not sometimes assault people,” he says, “however my worry was that it was six months into winter in order that they had been actually hungry and would possibly make completely different judgment calls.”

Web page pushed for 3 days. Then, simply six miles from the village, he noticed two snowmobiles emerge over the horizon. The village had dispatched their search and rescue crew, understanding there was a lone British bicycle owner someplace within the wilderness who hadn’t been seen because the storm.

Web page caught their strategy on digicam, he noticed a physique bag dragged behind one of many buggies. The hazard of his state of affairs dawned on him — and the irony that he had filmed all of it.

“I felt like that is ridiculous.” Web page says, “If one thing unhealthy occurs and I get discovered right here, they’re going to look via the digicam and go, ‘Nicely, this is the reason he did not make it, he was too busy filming himself.'”

However the filming gave Web page a objective past the non-public feat. It engaged one other aspect of his mind. He explains how usually he simply desires to get from A to B within the quickest approach potential, however with the digicam he needed to decelerate.

“It was like having to change on one other a part of the mind, the filmmaker’s aspect: saying that is vital to seize, you have to set these photographs up, discuss your feelings right here,” he says.

The end line

Page says filming his journey gave him a sense of purpose.

Web page says filming his journey gave him a way of objective.

Courtesy of Ben Web page

Because the journey went on, the filming turned an increasing number of vital.

Web page realized the long-term alternatives it might convey, and the potential career as an adventure filmmaker — a profession that he’s now pursuing wholeheartedly, with a visit deliberate to Alaska later this month and an expedition throughout Russia on the horizon.

The movie additionally provided an antidote to the loneliness. It provided an opportunity to share what he had been via.

When the Arctic Ocean got here into sight, it was not how Web page imagined it could be. Sure, it was splendidly romantic — the solar was setting and the snow glistening — however slightly than being full of elation, Web page was chilly and drained and alone.

“As an alternative of strolling off into the sundown, I sat in a toilet, on a small stool — the one heat place I might discover,” he says on the finish of the movie. “I assumed in regards to the classes this journey had taught me. Possibly I would proved one thing to myself, by going to the sting of my map… However, I additionally realized that maybe end strains are higher shared.”

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