GREENLAND, by bike

As always, the plan was to look for waves. But, after some unfruitful research and despite the rumours that the Doc from northern California had surfed a wave once there, I couldn’t find a way to make it happen. So, after a few contacts in Iceland & Denmark confirmed that the topography didn’t lend itself to surf, I parked the Greenland idea. That was until a cheap second-hand Fat bike (mountain bike with ridiculously fat wheels) came up… Having been impressed by Ben Page’s adventure on a similar bike through the Canadian winter (https://www.benpagefilms.com/films/the-frozen-road/), I figured I was onto something, so off I went!

There were no polar bears. No blizzard. I did not fall into any crevasses… so on the whole I’d say it all went beautifully, and I didn’t even ride that hard! There was only one real problem that I could see in this trip, and you could say it’s a pretty damn serious one. The whole place is melting. Because of us. This was no issue in practical terms in the scheme of my own indulgent little trip, but knowing that the entire ice sheet (2400m long and up to 3km thick) that you’re currently riding on is literally shrinking, well it puts your brain in overdrive. Sure you hear about it and you know the rhetoric but actually being there you really realise… We stuffed it up big time. 

Greenland is about the size of Western Europe, so I really only saw small portions of it on the east coast, north of the Arctic circle. But to illustrate the awesomeness of this world here is a not-so-incredible anecdote: it took me once 7 hours to ride 18kms, not because it was tough terrain, but because the thousands of icebergs, the chanting of the whales, the colourful remote fishing shacks, the crystal clear lakes and the rugged granite mountains looked like it was all there just to say: “look at us, we might get blasted by blizzards 10 months of the year,  but we still look better than any place where humans have interfered.”  The next day I didn’t even bother going anywhere.  I had pitched my tent outside Oqaatsut, a hamlet of 27 inhabitants, and pretty much walked aimlessly with Julian, the friendliest of all French-Canadians who had just walked the Arctic circle trail, to watch the jaw dropping dance of mammoth icebergs, cracking and turning, sometimes moving several kilometres in a few hours, and changing colours every minutes as the low sun rays rose and fell, before giving way some nights to the reliably awe-inspiring show that is the aurora borealis… why would you want to be anywhere warmer?!

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