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Canadian mountain biker Darren Berrecloth rides Resolute Bay

North of Nightfall is a groundbreaking cycling film shot in 24-hour daylight

For the past 12 years, Darren Berrecloth, one of the pioneers of freeride mountain biking, and his two-wheeled cohorts at Freeride Entertainment, have been scouring the planet in search of the best big mountain terrain upon which to plunk their knarly tires from the Himalayas to Baja and everywhere in between. But the North Pole? How about a few hours past that point in a Twin Otter plane to the absolute middle of nowhere.

In a trip more than two years in the making, Berrecloth and crew travelled to the end of so-called North American civilization, Resolute Bay. From there, they flew hours further north and spent a couple weeks in 24-hour daylight riding lines that were two and three times the length of the Red Bull Rampage. And they did it knowing that if something serious went down, the nearest hospital was a 12-hour helicopter ride away.

The result is North of Nightfall, a 2018 cycling documentary film chronicling the 16-day mountain biking session of a lifetime on the rough and tumble, muskox-laden Axel Heiberg Island in Nunavut. Far, far away.

Joining Berrecloth for the ride of their lives, a crack team of dirt merchants including Carson Storch, Cam Zink and Tom Van Steenbergen tossed in amongst the narwhals, Arctic wolves, polar bears and beluga whales.

Berrecloth, a Qualicum Beach, British Columbia native, who recently opened up a restaurant near his hometown, figures this will be the one and only time the island will ever see bicycles.

“Nobody is ever going to go there to ride bike. Ever. You’re not going there, not going to happen,” he says, on the phone from his home. “The terrain was absolutely amazing and the fact that it’s up in the north and primarily covered in snow for 10 months of the year, the  moisture in the soil was insane, so the amount of traction we could get, and the amount of lines we could ride made it super epic for us.”

Originally, there was a different location for the trip, until the crew found out that no humans were allowed to go where they wanted to go, but they received a tip about some amazing terrain  in the high north and used Google Earth to make their initial investigations.

“Eventually, we decided there was some serious potential in the high north,” he says. “So we scouted it by plane to make sure.”

The crew hired outfitters that normally guide people on narwhal watching trips, and the camp was under strict leave-no-trace rules and had to pack out everything. Along for the trip was an ER doctor loaded with as much medical supplies as possible.

With 24-hour daylight, the riders were confronted with a unique challenge.

“Ya, that was a trip, it went from really good light in the midday, so it was basically early evening light all day, and then all night it was basically epic sunset light for eight hours,” he says. “So it really boiled down to certain areas that were in shade some of the time and light at other times. To sleep, we’d wear eye masks in the tent, but it was still so hard, because you’d wake up and see the light and you’re like alright let’s ride and then look at your watch and it’s 1 a.m. By the end, we were so screwed up we didn’t know what was up and what was down.”

Despite the rather unique conditions, everyone made it home relatively unscathed, although Berrecloth says there were a few crashes, dislocated shoulders, skull fractures. Typical stuff.

Harder still, for him, was leaving his one-year-old daughter for a month.

“I got a text from my girlfriend that my kid took her first steps on her first birthday,” he says. “That kind of stuff, it’s a sacrifice that we have to make if you want to pursue this life.”

The life of a big mountain freerider, according to Berrecloth, who burst onto the scene in 2000 when he was 20 years old, is one that is increasingly difficult to obtain, especially for young riders, which is one of the reasons he took along a few young guns along to the north.

“Not many people live near those types of features and terrain, so it’s a struggle to really get into,” he says. “I wouldn’t say we are a dying breed, but there is definitely. not a lot of people doing it.”

For further information about the film go to https://ca.demand.film/north-of-nightfall/.

 

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