Simply climbing up mountains in the Arctic Circle and skiing down again was too easy for Brody Leven and co. So they decided to cycle there towing their gear behind
Brody Leven can’t resist a sufferfest. Despite vowing “never again” after his last brutal ‘Pedal to Peaks’ challenge from Portland to Seattle in 2014, it wasn’t long before he once again found himself in the saddle enroute to the mountains – this time in Lofoten, Norway.
Along with cinematographer Joey Schusler and photographer Kt Miller, the plan was simple: load the custom bikes up with all the gear needed to ski, sleep, cook and film, then take the single road connecting the Lofoten islands (occasionally through underwater tunnels) in search of snow. Unfortunately things didn’t go to plan.
A small team of skiers strapped an obnoxious amount of gear to bicycles and rode through cold, arctic Norway. Connecting mountainous islands with underwater tunnels, they climbed and skied mountains along the length of the Lofoten archipelago. With gear failing and partners bailing, spirits wavered.
With insanely heavy bikes and legs more used to skiing than cycling, plus gear failures and traffic concerns as intimidatingly large trucks regularly battered past the trio, it became to much for Kt, who decided to pull out of the mission. However the real issue was snow, or the lack of it. Lofoten is way up in the Arctic Circle, but given the proximity of the ocean and the warm Gulf Stream, it can be much milder than you’d expect for somewhere so far north. 2016 was particularly low snow year, and where the team had expected to be able to ski regularly right from the road they were left with arduous bushwhacks instead.
Brody summed it up “As we neared our destination—the end of the archipelago—we realized that we were, quite simply, traveling too late in the low-snow season. Empty and defeated, the road ended in a the monosyllabic town of Å. We sat beside our bicycles and stared into the island-riddled ocean, wearing t-shirts in front of grassy mountains while our skis remained lonely.”
So was the trip a failure? Sometimes it’s precisely the difficulty that makes something worth doing: as the sayings go, ‘life begins at the end of your comfort zone’ and ‘no good story ever started with easy.’
Turning around, Leven and Schulster pedalled back with a different eye for what was skiable. Exploring hidden side roads and sweating through long approaches on dirt in their ski boots, they managed to ski a new line each of the following four days.