Taken on a summer’s evening in the northern fjords of Norway as the sun was dropping in the skies. Being north of the Arctic Circle, it did not drop much lower than in this image, holding the lovely golden tones for a prolonged period. Although this was mid summer (early July), the snow had only just melted 2-3 weeks prior.
Shots from the vault: Back in 2009, I had just completed my cycle ride from London to Nordkapp in Norway, some 2.5k miles away. Following completion of this journey, I took a ferry from Honningsvåg to Hammerfest, where I spent these evening before heading on to Tromsø the following morning. I was treated to a spectacular light show that evening as the sun bounced along the horizon. Being north of the Arctic Circle and mid-summer, the sun never dropped below this level.
I have visited Iceland a few times. This was from my most recent trip there, when I cycled round the island. This was one of the rare days when it did not rain. I was around 300km east of Reykjavik when I took this shot. The wind was with me that day and I covered over 100 miles.
This next shot was a couple of days out of Egilsstaðir, close to Hoffell if I recall correctly. Just a mile or two away from the road where I was cycling, was this the view I was treated to, of a glacier positioned on the edge of Vatnajökull National Park.
A shot from the archives. This one was taken in Iceland when I cycle around the island. I had made my way around the peninsula and had to back track through the mountains. Ahead of me, the clouds loomed ominously above the range I had to cycle through. Needless to say, I was soaked in the mother of all storms.
Just over a week later, I was on the other side of the island. The omnipresent clouds parted momentarily as I passed an abandoned house. Soon afterwards, the rain fell and the clouds closed in. If you can overlook the bad weather (these were taken in the height of the Icelandic summer) and the relentless winds, cycling around this rock in the middle of the Atlantic was a fantastic expedition.
One of the most demanding projects I have lead was for Ford, whilst I was based at Imagination. I was brought on board to create a far reaching social media platform, at the time when WordPress and Wikis were still very much in their infancy from a public consciousness perspective.
Ford wanted to utilise social media to engage with people in a more genuine manner than just pitch sales messages and thereby establish a closer connection between audience and brand.
The aim of the project was to tell a story and inviting readers to contribute to it, thus making them feel engaged, rather than “talked at”.
The result was an interactive online comedy called “Where Are The Joneses?”, which followed the adventures of two characters, Dawn and Ian Jones, who were searching for siblings after learning that their father was a prolific sperm donor.
Accompanied by my film crew, the cast improvised an episode a day on a 3 month European road-trip. We asked Ford to provide a car fit for the journey and paint it in the pantone derived from the colour used by Seth Godin’s book, Purple Cow, about transforming your business by being remarkable.
Each episode was uploaded to our WRTJ channel on YouTube and discussed in an accompanying blog, hosted on WordPress, which featured videos from viewers, images, diaries written by the characters and audience comments. (www.wherearethejoneses.com)
The wiki allowed the audience to help shape the storyline, write the script, create new characters and even cast themselves to appear in the show. It was distributed widely across social networking sites to maximise audience participation, utilising everything from Facebook to Twitter, GoogleMaps, Flickr, Digg, Technorati, Del.icio.us, iTunes and MySpace amongst others.
The result was extensive coverage in mainstream media, both UK national and trade press as well as national TV coverage. This helped to set the campaign up as a rewarding articulation of Ford’s brand positioning “Feel the difference. It also earned the project a Webby nomination.
This is Episode 1 that started the whole European adventure off and introduced us to Dawn and Ian.
Here are some images from the three month production.
We woke up to thick cloud but there was no wind or rain. Planned to do 130km. When we got on the bike Dave began to suffer from the illness that had struck him on his way out here. It struck him quite early in the day and as it really kicked in he could hardly move. We attempted to do 35km’s before breakfast but Dave couldn’t make it so we stopped and set up for a hot drink. Cycled a little bit further. Julien then got his second puncture which was very annoying as he only had two inner tubes but it was caused due to the poor gravel road surfaces. We now have no inner tubes left, so fingers crossed.
By the afternoon Julien was getting really cold. Dave was very ill. Dave wanted to thumb a ride as he could go no further. Julien decided to go on to find a hostel. There was nothing, so he cycled on and on and on. 40 clicks down the road found a town called Litlahof.
A landlady said she had a house with rooms. Julien took the room at about 4pm and waited for Dave. He was in a bad way so arrived at 8 PM. When he got to the hostel we had a chat and decided that Dave should rest up and either meet up with Julien at the end of each day or head to Reykjavik. Four days to go. About 110km solo planned per day.
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Woke up to another beautiful day, Julien treated himself to a bit of a lie in. It was still cold but bright always helps. Broke the tent down. Set off and headed 55km down the hill towards Angelique’s location. The head winds were at it again and even though the cycling was downhill it was only possible to reach 8mph, cycling into the winds is heartbreaking and always a challenge . It was an unrelenting 4 hours. When we met up with Angelique she deduced that Julien needed to lose some kit to make the head winds easier so we had a bit of a turn out and Angelique will be taking 10 kilo’s of stuff and leaving it at the airport on her way out tomorrow.
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In the next month or so, I and two friends will be attempting to cycle around Iceland. Usually, there would be the standard helping of trepidation by friends and colleagues at the idea of cycling over a thousand miles, around a desolate and sparsely inhabited island. This year is more ambitious than I had originally intended due to the continued eruption of Eyjafjallajökull.
Indeed, the repeated action of the volcano and the broad level of information I am receiving from various sources (some more trusted than others) means that I am none the wiser as to whether we will be able to fly to Iceland and then circumnavigate it without being either blocked by the volcanic activity or halted by falling clouds of ash. Conundrums and tribulations aside, this is all adding up to be quite the adventure. Usually, if I were only concerned about my own travel, this would not be an issue as one can more easily roll with the punches when you are solo. However, with the much appreciated company on this trip, along with the variety of start points for the journey, I need to make sure that I am not going to waste anyone’s precious vacation time.
I must admit to being more than a little seduced by the adventure ahead. Each year, I like to have something new, something that sets each challenge apart from the previous ones. Last year, it was covering thousands of miles alone. This year, Eyjafjallajökull is throwing all sorts of variables in my path.
I have read various reports from other cyclist and newscasters reporting back on the eruptions as they happen. The official word was that they would be over within the next couple of weeks and that the prevailing winds would prevent any falling ash from inconveniencing us as we make our way clockwise around the island.
In addition to the complexities of Eyjafjallajökull erupting, its three previous eruptions on record have each been associated with a subsequent eruption of Katla. So far, there have been no signs of turbulence beneath Katla’s surface. However, having last erupted almost a century ago in 1918, vulcanologists say that a new blast is overdue.
“So far there have been no signs of the re-awakening of the Katla volcano but a lot of things can still happen, so we are monitoring it quite closely,” Dr Einarsson said.
Here is an image that caught my eye. My cycling companion Dave summed it up best when he said something along the lines that we needed to make sure we had all a decent breathing mask in our bags.
So, after all the procrastination, this is what it is all about: The angry gods of the underworld spewing out its ash and magma. In a strange turn of events, after thinking that Iceland would be bereft of tourists, I have been reading about how the volcanic eruption has heightened tourist figures as people come from far and wide to see the angry mountain humbling our Western way of travel and life in general.
Please note: None of these images are mine. They have been sourced from fellow photographers on the net. If you would like me to credit your image or remove it, please email me or comment below
Julien had a mammoth day on Thursday.
He left Repvag and cycled towards Nordkapp Island along a really beautiful 60km route.
On the way he passed through three tunnels, the biggest of which was under the sea and 7km long. Inside the tunnel were some insane dips and equally steep rises.
It was freezing cold and with a 9% uphill gradient for 4km.
He stopped in at a town on Nordkapp Island called Honningsvag, where he had lunch and got ready for the last 30km.
Julien said the last 30km were perhaps the hardest of the whole journey.
Nordkapp Island is essentially made up of a few flat areas surrounded by mountains.
After leaving Honningsvag Julien quickly hit a wall of road at a 9% incline and had to cycle up it for 6km.
Julien was then stuck cycling up the edge of a large hill on a small road alongside a number of large buses.
One actually ran him off the road but he persevered and made it to the peak after two and a half hours.
The weather had been great all day but just as Julien reached the top it started to cloud over.
Julien entered the visitors center only to discover that he had to pay to stand on the summit but they did at least offer a 50% discount for cyclists!
He spoke to a few people and got a photo of himself in a prime spot.
Julien says it was a great feeling to reach Nordkapp after a huge 2600 miles. What a great achievement!
Just as Julien got ready to cycle back to Honningsvag his stand broke broke but this didn’t impede his progress.
He made it back to the campsite where he met some friendly English speakers who were travelling through Finland.
Julien had an early start the next morning. He got up at 3.50 to give himself time to tumble dry his clothes and pack up before getting the ferry from Honningsvag.
The weather was great and the landscape stunning and Julien managed to get some great photos. But he dozed off and the weather turned to rain.
Unfortunately the forecast for the next few days is looking pretty bad, but this won’t slow Julien down as he starts the journey home by heading towards Tromso.
Julien undertook his epic journey to support the Child’s i Foundation a wonderful charity that is aiming to build a home for abandoned babies in Uganda.
Julien has made a great effort to cycle 2600 miles from London to Nordkapp please show him your support by sponsoring him on his Just Giving Page. Thank you!