The Frozen Road (Full Film)

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Released today after winning awards at film festivals around the world, The Frozen Road depicts and incredible month-long expedition through Canada’s remote and frozen Yukon Territory to the Arctic Sea. This was just a month within a 3-year bike trip that Ben Page began in 2014. Watch the film, see an amazing collection of photos, and read a QA with the filmmaker…

Film and photos by Ben Page

The Frozen Road is a film about the last month of a bike trip through the Americas. In the grand scheme, this was part of a much longer three-year bike ride that Ben made around the world between 2014 to 2017. In total he pedaled and pushed his way across five continents covering almost 55,000 kilometers, give or take. As Ben faced the final leg of this massive journey from the tip of South America, he stood his own map’s edge and wanted to take a peek at what lay beyond. So he cycled through Canada’s remote and frozen Yukon Territory to the Arctic Sea. There he caught a glimpse of what it truly means to travel alone through a great emptiness. Watch the full film below and scroll down for more photos and a QA with the filmmaker…

As a boy from England, this was a long way from anything I knew. On a map of my experiences, it lay somewhere beyond its edges.

  • The Frozen Road Film, Ben Page, Bikepacking Yukon Territory
  • The Frozen Road Film, Ben Page, Bikepacking Yukon Territory

The Frozen Road Film, Ben Page, Bikepacking Yukon Territory

  • The Frozen Road Film, Ben Page, Bikepacking Yukon Territory
  • The Frozen Road Film, Ben Page, Bikepacking Yukon Territory

First of all, why did you decide to make Tuktoyaktuk your final destination in North America?

 
It was either Tuktoyaktuk in the NWT or Prudhoe Bay in Alaska that was to be the end of the Americas for me. Prudhoe Bay lies a degree or so further north of Tuk so initially I’d planned to head there…however, whilst riding through northern Canada I wasn’t granted permission to cross the US border at a non-regulated crossing (I was following the Yukon River at this point) and so I just decided to leave the river and continue up through Canada. As it turned out northern Canada was wonderfully diverse with mountains ranges, tundra and forest and ended up with riding across the enormous expanse of the frozen Arctic Sea. Getting to explore such an incredibly wild place was a true boyhood dream, but a place I had never really imagined being on a bike!

Where did you go afterwards and how’d you get out of there??

The top of Canada was just the half way point for my journey, after a little time healing up the frostbite and putting some weight back on whilst staying with friends on Vancouver Island I then began riding across Asia, from Beijing to Istanbul. Following that I rode from Cape Town to Cairo and finally Athens to my home in northern England!

  • The Frozen Road Film, Ben Page, Bikepacking Yukon Territory
  • The Frozen Road Film, Ben Page, Bikepacking Yukon Territory
  • The Frozen Road Film, Ben Page, Bikepacking Yukon Territory

The film does a great job of capturing the fear and near helplessness that you experienced on that 3rd day of pushing your bike through… What the film didn’t capture was how you managed to overcome those emotions. What kept you going?

I’m not totally sure what kept me going, it was certainly a scary place to be, a situation I had never previously experienced – but I didn’t have any other option other than to keep pushing and rationing my food. I had estimated it would take me between 3 or 4 days to push my way off the river, and, barring any further incident with the cold/wild animals etc then it was a simple equation of putting one step in front of the other a lot of times. Obviously, the physical and mental strains of that period were pretty tough…

How did the camera effect your experience? Did it alleviate some of the loneliness that you felt?

I’d love to say that it did, that’s certainly the clichéd idea of the camera becoming a companion, but sadly it wasn’t true in my case, there was no Tom Hanks and Wilson relationship! Often I found myself begrudging the filming aspect of the ride since it was a hindrance to making further progress – particularly whilst stuck on the Peel River. However I guess it also served as a meaningful distraction, my mind being brought out of the difficult present circumstances and escaping with thoughts about various shots and compositions and how to best tell the story I was living through. There is certainly a dichotomy of thought that went on – half my head would tell me to stop filming and get myself to safety whilst the filmmaker part of my brain was saying that this is an important period to capture.

The Frozen Road Film, Ben Page, Bikepacking Yukon Territory

My tires following the centuries old footsteps of prospectors, men who, like me, had stood on their own maps edge and wanted to take a peek at what lay beyond.

  • The Frozen Road Film, Ben Page, Bikepacking Yukon Territory
  • The Frozen Road Film, Ben Page, Bikepacking Yukon Territory

I love the ‘post-modern’ approach where you show the camera being set up, turned on and off. It’s kind of a documentary within a documentary. What are your thoughts behind that approach?

I thought it was really important to acknowledge the camera and that this isn’t a documentary filmed by a remote team of people, rather this is simply a single guy plonking his camera and tripod down and cycling backwards and forwards in front of it. Self-filmed journeys, to my mind at least, are always far more engaging (I’m thinking of the brilliant Road from Karakol by Kyle Dempster which served as a huge inspiration to me). To have people assume some of the shots have been taken by others has been quite a compliment to the time and effort I went to in trying to still make the film ‘cinematic’.

The Frozen Road is a pretty personal story and I think I leave myself emotional bare through it, and so this notion that the camera is the lens through which others will be having a vicarious experience was something I wanted to play with. The lens can only ever capture so much of a story. Thus I needed to show the camera being set up and turned on and off – it hints at the unavoidable element of subjectivity in the filming process – and that there is still the journey going on between the moments that are captured.

What camera equipment did you bring along to shoot The Frozen Road with?

I was using a Panasonic GH4 with a Metabones adapter with a Sigma 17-50mm f2.8 and a Canon 70-200mm f4 lens and a Rode Videomic Pro. I’d got the body second hand just before embarking on this portion of the ride, and this was the camera equipment I then continued to use for the remaining year and a half of my journey. I was also carrying a battery pack and 8 third party batteries, which I was able to charge twice throughout the ride through northern Canada. I still find it remarkable how little equipment you need to be able to make a film – I’m not trained in photography or filmmaking but had been slowly teaching myself over the previous year riding up through the Americas, and I edited the film on my laptop whilst riding across Asia and Africa. So a big thanks to Youtube for all the tutorials!

  • The Frozen Road Film, Ben Page, Bikepacking Yukon Territory
  • The Frozen Road Film, Ben Page, Bikepacking Yukon Territory
  • The Frozen Road Film, Ben Page, Bikepacking Yukon Territory

What safety precautions did you put in place for this portion of the trip?

I read as much about cold weather safety as the internet blogosphere could conjure up! These had a mixed effect, either making me feel very confident in what I was doing or making me fixate on the varying degrees of frostbite and grim cold endings I may end up in…! I had been working for a few months in an outdoor equipment shop before I left so had managed to kit myself out with cold weather gear and I also took a SPOT tracker with me.

Any favorite pieces of winter gear?

Probably my second hand old military boots that I’d picked up for a handful of dollars on eBay – they seemed to be the cheapest way I could keep my feet warm in the -40C temperatures!

Any interesting winter bikepacking ‘must-know’ tips you’d like to share?

I’m probably not much of an authority on this, since I kind of just made do with what I had (which is sage advice for any bikepacking climate!). But obviously sleep with the doors of your tent open to reduce condensation….and definitely expand your vocabulary with many flowery expletives since these are essential when your hands begin to thaw out after freezing them off taking video at -40!

The Frozen Road Film, Ben Page, Bikepacking Yukon Territory

  • The Frozen Road Film, Ben Page, Bikepacking Yukon Territory
  • The Frozen Road Film, Ben Page, Bikepacking Yukon Territory

The last scene of the film reflects no elation, no visible relief, no joy, no satisfaction. In fact, you appear to be on the verge of tears. What were you feeling in that bathroom? What was it that you were trying to capture?

The last scene was really important to include in the film as it shows the stark and honest reality of what it actually felt like to finish. I’ve watched a plethora of adventure films, which, to my mind, always try and evoke a sense of wanderlust and success – that this is the best possible thing somebody could be doing. The reality for me was the “finish line” of the Americas was a complete anti-climax and actually a pretty depressing place to be. I’d tried so hard, and put myself into a world of risk for an emotion that never surfaced. I really wasn’t expecting that at all. Rather than revel in the joys of the finish I was still just on my own, my mind whirring and wondering whether it had all been worth it. Very little had really changed other than I wasn’t going to be turning my pedals for a few days. I tried to make the film as a whole a slight musing on the nature of solitude and loneliness and the extents to which one can experience them. For a long time I wasn’t going to close with that ending as it seemed a little negative – however I realised that it was really important to maintain the emotional honesty throughout the film. That final scene is perhaps the loneliest that I felt, unable to share that finish line with somebody else. Any questions posited by the undertaking of the journey were actually left unanswered.

The Frozen Road Film, Ben Page, Bikepacking Yukon Territory

  • The Frozen Road Film, Ben Page, Bikepacking Yukon Territory
  • The Frozen Road Film, Ben Page, Bikepacking Yukon Territory

Any future trips or films in the works?

Absolutely, I finished my round the world ride late last year and am now pursuing adventure film making full time – so plenty more trips in the pipeline. As for the ride, I filmed the entire three year journey and so I am hoping to edit a feature length piece about that later this year, stay tuned!

Anyone you’d like to thank?

I really couldn’t have done this ride without the generous support of Fatback Bikes who kindly provided me with a Corvus fat bike. It was this bike that I rode through the Canadian Arctic and then onwards across Asia, Africa and Europe. It’s rare for somebody to take a carbon fibre bike to fairly remote and inaccessible places but it performed incredibly and without even a whimper. The guys at Fatback were fantastic also when I was hit by a truck in Ethiopia and needed a new wheel to get myself back riding again – thanks!

It’s worth noting that Ben turned down selling the film to a few different companies as he wanted it to be available for free. If you would like to donate something to the cost of the film (whatever you feel like, or what you can afford), click here. You can also find more from Ben at his website benpagefilms.com. And, make sure to follow Ben on Instagram @benpagefilms

53 Comments
  • Two Wander Yonder

    Great movie Ben! Your one of the reasons I wanted to make videos about my cycling adventures with my Girlfriend. We go by the name @two.wander.yonder. Cant wait to see what will come next in your life!

  • Nice to finally see the movie. We met your father up north by Dawson City and he told us about you and how much you struggled through this. So much appreciation for your honesty and raw emotions and the power to film all of this despite your pain. Thanks! We hope to see more of your movies in the future!

  • NezaP

    Just watched it! Such a great piece of art!!

  • Amazing video!

  • Aaron Daly

    That was great to watch. Looked very tough, would be great to experience something like that, but with a buddy!

  • Christian

    I was lucky enough to watch the film with Ben when he passed through Kenya last year. Amazing camera work and very inspirational filmmaking. All its prizes certainly well deserved. Looking forward to see a longer film from the world trip. In the meantime, take care out there, Ben!

  • Mark

    Wow, REALLY well done film! Looks like an amazing journey, and you certainly get the point across that a trip like that is not all highlights with a couple of rough patches. Also, thank you for getting the volume levels correct between the music and dialogue. So many short adventure films get that wrong and it makes it really annoying to have to play with the volume constantly. Looking forward to the rest of your journey! Best of luck!

  • That blew my mind. Freakin’ amazing adventure!

  • Mark Troup

    EPIC.

  • Accidental FIRE

    Amazing video man. That’s some serious suffering. Kudos!

  • BBischof

    Especially loved the scenes of you lifting the bike—they just felt so real!

  • DamagedSurfer

    Greetings Ben,

    This is a fantastic and authentic vision of what it’s like to push yourself on an extended, solo adventure well beyond your comfort zone. About your age, I also traveled for 3 consecutive years and often asked myself what the hell I was doing. Honestly, the part I can connect with the most is the realization that while I experienced incredible highs and did revel in the solitude, I often found myself wishing I had someone special to share the journey. Also, I appreciate that you didn’t edit out the self doubt and regret. Too many blogs/videos only show the author savoring every moment as if every step is light and carefree. In my opinion, this is dishonest. On any real adventure there is self-doubt and moments of regret. Hell, that’s what makes an adventure worthwhile – conquering that fear and self-doubt, and emerging a stronger, wiser person on the other side.

    Thanks again for sharing. Best of luck with your future goals!

  • Little Deezy

    We suffer because we want and you suffered like a Boss, High Five! Type 2 fun gets really real at times and that bathroom scene said it all.

  • James Walker

    Absolutely amazing! Not only your epic journey but the fact that you managed to film it so well all by yourself. How the hell did you stop your batteries from freezing!!?? I struggle to keep mine going at -3c let alone -30c!! Love the inspiring quotes from Mr London as well. Top marks Ben!!

  • this is such a great movie! it touches so many of what comes with challenging adventures and much beyond. i’ve never even been close to what Ben survived through but so many scenes seemed really familiar to me. and what a great movie and storytelling craftsmanship! take for example the scene in the tent while wolves howling around. great one! im sure i will come back to this movie many, many times!

  • I am still smiling since minute 21… Bravo Ben!
    There should have been a podium to get a bouquet of flowers a leader’s jersey and a trophy when you arrived to Tuktoyaktuk :)

  • jim hunter

    Magnificent and inspirational Ben very very well done

  • Jamie

    Beautifully rendered Ben! One of the best shortfilms I’ve ever watched, thank you.

  • Hey Mark, thanks very much, really glad you took the time to watch it. And THANK YOU for appreciating the ‘levels’ – I spent way too much time trying to learn how to mix audio, you’ve just made that all worth while!

  • Thanks very much Jim

  • Haha yes if only! Thanks for taking the time to watch it :)

  • Thanks Andrzej, such kind words. I’m glad you found a resonance with the themes of the film, they’re certainly relevant to so many people who set out an all sorts of trips.

  • Hi James! Thanks for your comment, glad you enjoyed it. Batteries – the bane of my time up there! I strapped them all on my body and slept with them at night. I was able to recharge them a couple of times during the ride and also carried a small battery pack.

  • Thanks man!

  • Wow, couldn’t have put it better myself! You’ve absolutely hit the nail on the head there, and it was so important to portray the full realities of solo travel; its intoxicating but perhaps not always positively. I don’t think that urge is ever suppressed though, to go it alone, it’s the only way to keep on learning right?

  • Thanks Christian! Hope everything is swell in Kenya and you’re managing to squeeze a little bit of ‘bike’ time in. Hopefully we’ll cross paths again soon :)

  • Thanks Miles!

  • Thanks very much!

  • Haha its been a while hasn’t it – really happy it’s now out online! I remember him saying he met some other cyclists whilst he was up there, I hope he didn’t rattle on at you for too long!

  • That’s brilliant! Good luck with all your adventures in the future, I’ll be watching :)

  • Wow high praise indeed! Thanks very much

  • They were real…painfully real! Us cyclists aren’t famed for our strong arms!

  • Thanks!

  • Cheers Mark

  • Glad you liked it Dana, thanks!

  • T O’neal

    Ben, I want to join in and also say, THANK YOU!
    Truly, an amazing piece. Most of the words and feeling your film has provoked in me, have been said already. But I must share my favorite scene…. You’re telling the camera how the concern/fear of the wolf pack is starting to be real, and then you cut to you inside you tent. The wind like wild beast! Perfect point of view shot. Priceless!! Well done!
    I look forward to more of your films.
    Thanks again,

  • Mark Troup

    “Epic” is so overused nowadays. But this is the real damn deal. Like Moby Dick/Heart of Darkness/Call of the Wild epic. I especially appreciate that it’s not a nostalgic remembrance through rose-colored glasses. It’s very stark man-against-nature conflict. Man wins… just barely.

  • Jeff Crowe

    What was your longest solo trip prior to the film trip? I have a hard time thinking I can do a solo trip. Did you have any trepidations about solo trips and how did you overcome them?

  • Jeff Crowe

    P. S. Amazing trip and film. Thank you for creating and bringing this to us.

  • Too true!

  • Clement

    Amazing film ! The way you combine both great cinematic shots and personal thoughts is really well done. Looking forward to discover your world journey film !

  • Thanks very much, really glad you enjoyed it! Hopefully there will be more to share over the coming year :)

  • The longest solo trip I’d done before beginning my ride around the world was about 3/4 weeks cycling around the US on a summer holiday whilst at university. I’d found the first week of that really hard but then quickly got into it and began appreciating how much I was learning whilst travelling alone. I think from that I then decided that I would be able to go off and ride around the world!

  • Thanks Clement!

  • Andre

    This is awesome. Ben, I love making pictures and I have been trying to take more pictures when I’m traveling, specially when I’m traveling by myself. This is a good example how awesome it can be to document your own adventures. Very well done.

  • Cédric Henriot

    Hi Ben, wow what a trip. Congratulations, I live in Lithuania where I had experience of -32C and often winters temperature ranging -10 to -20C and I know it takes a lot to ride by such temperature, the same riding or pushing in snow …
    But the part I loved the most is the one where you’ve managed to express a feeling I often have in my rides. You feel so good to be the only man alive in miles around but you also have this other side of you that would like to share this beloved one, friends and others … very strange feeling indeed.
    Keep riding, keep inspiring ;)

  • James Savage

    Incredible and inspirational. Never again will I be able to moan that I need a quadcopter to make a great outdoor film. Never again will I feel I need a companion to be able to capture the essence of a journey. Never again will I feel I need better equipment. Never again will I wonder if I needed to have gone to film school. Ok; that’s a lie – I’m sure I will do all those things!…But you have shown how much you can achieve with so little. If you ever felt like sharing your go-to youtube videos for self teaching it would be much appreciated.

  • Adin Maynard

    What a great alternative to ‘Stinky and Dirty’ for my 2.5 and 5 year olds. (now bikepacking vids are my goto screen time) . They were mesmerized. Then my 17 yo came in and said he would definitely do a trip like that sometime. As your sh_t got real, we agreed to start on the GR5 in Europe- next summer! Thanks for the inspiration .

  • Steve B

    Just saw your film last night in DC at the Nat Geo theatre. It was my favorite film, very personal, powerful and well done. Knowing that you filmed this all by yourself is yet another amazing thing about this film. Bravo Ben !!!

  • Weckfors Discovery

    Fantastic video. I especially liked the scene where your are filming inside your Hilleberg in a storm. So inspiring to watch your adventures. I have been watching your films since part I from Patagonia. Waiting for next film coming up. Good luck with your filmmaking!

  • Corrine Leistikow

    Great job. Living in Fairbanks, Alaska we know what it’s like to be out in those conditions. That you took the time to film so much to make such an incredible documentary is amazing! Very, very well done. Can’t wait to see more from you.

  • Superchampion

    As a Brit living in Canada, a fatbiker, bikepacker, solo rider and a person that also fears whats in the woods sometimes, I thought this was a brilliant film. Hats off to you Ben, this must have been very hard to put together especially when you were fighting the elements. A grassroots look at solo, isolated bike travel. I look forward to watching your films in the future. Richie in Calgary formally from East London.

  • I dont know what to say…. WOOW