PEZ Goes to the Movies: On Her Own—Biking from Hamburg to North Cape
With the emergence of the gravel bike and the ability to ride most kinds of road surfaces, along with lightweight baggage and navigation by satellite, bikepacking (as the youths now call bike touring) has become a significant cycling discipline. Not everyone wants to race (although there plenty of unsupported ultra-distance events) but there are other ways to test your physical limits and self-reliance. And, of course, in the Era of the Selfie, it is possible to share the adventure.
In July 2022, Wiebke Lühmann set out from her friend Fabienne Engel’s home in Hamburg and headed north, with the goal of reaching Norway’s North Cape, 3500 kms away, in 30 days. She was inspired by her father’s story of having ridden his bicycle to the Arctic Circle in the eighth grade and wanted to undertake a similar journey. With her close friend Fabienne, a professional photographer since 2012, the two women planned the trip a year in advance with the idea of producing a film. “On Her Own—Biking from Hamburg to North Cape” is the result, a 35 minute film that presented at showings in four German cities in December 2022 and can now be viewed on YouTube. For non-German speakers, there are closed captions in English on YouTube that work very well.
The journey was a challenge for several reasons. Wiebke had never ridden so far in such a short time and Fabienne had never shot and edited such a long-format film before. In all, 20 hours of video were made and the result was entirely the work of the two women alone. During the trip, the pair were only together for four days, at which time Fabienne used her cameras and drone, while the majority was done by Wiebke with a GoPro, and the resulting edit tells the story seamlessly. There is background music even.
After leaving the big city of Hamburg, Wiebke strikes out for Denmark and then Norway and the video shows what one might expect—camping, waiting for a ferry, meeting up with new friends on the road. Wiebke is a cheerful presence, reflecting on what the journey means to her. Of course, not everything ever goes completely according to plan on any bike trip, and there are some moments that call on that self-reliance and persistence. A good chunk of the trip through Norway seems to be in endless rain and the grey skies don’t feel so summery.
The North Cape attracts some 250,000 visitors each year and appears to be the northernmost point of Europe that you can actually drive (or ride) to. It is a 307 m high cliff with a large flat plateau on top facing the Arctic Ocean, marking the point where the Norwegian Sea meets the Barents Sea. Actually situated on Magerøya Island and is connected to the Norwegian mainland via a 6.8 km long undersea tunnel, built between 1993 and 1999.
“On Her Own” shows one person’s adventure in a relatable fashion. In the words of the filmmaker: “It was especially important for us to tell the journey as authentically as possible and also to inspire other young women to go on adventures on their own. We wanted to show not only the highlights and beauty of Norway, but also that not every day is easy.”
This film is an excellent example of how talented amateurs can share a cycling adventure with the world. Using equipment available to most and distributed on social media, it opens up possibilities for those considering environmentally-friendly travel in interesting locations. A small number of sponsors, including the Wilier bicycle company, are credited, showing great initiative by the women.
Around 2,300 kms of Wiebke’s trip followed the marked bicycle route Eurovelo 1, the Atlantic Coast Route, in Norway. The Eurovelo system is an extensive network in Europe, about which more can be learned here: https://en.eurovelo.com/#
“On Her Own—By Bike from Hamburg to North Cape,” a film by Fabienne Engle and Wiebke Lühmann
35 minutes, colour, in German with English subtitles
Available on YouTube at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OV6836VprNI&t=32s
Wiebke Lühmann’s travels can be followed on Strava: https://www.strava.com/athletes/22478106
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