Project Horizon tells unique stories of inspiring people who put themselves in unpredictable situations. People who do not set their own limits. Who manage to break free from everyday obligations and norms and pursue their passion. These people take us on their own individual journeys and show us that adventures are waiting for us everywhere, if we are ready for them.
Joining our Project Horizon team is Perrine Fages. The French woman is a passionate, ultra-endurance athlete who loves sporting adventures, so she travels the world on foot, by bike, or swimming. She is always on the lookout for new challenges.
"Adventure gives me a sense of vitality, intensity, energy, and, most importantly, the deep connection with nature."
If you look back at the last few years, you quickly notice the 40 year-old's enthusiasm. She only started cycling in 2015. Five months later, she already completed her first Ironman. A dozen more Ironmans followed and in 2018, she qualified for the World Championships in Hawaii. Since then, she has sought her challenges in ultra-distances of endurance sports, especially Triathlon and cycling. In 2018, she won the Bikingman series, where she traversed some of the world's most stunning landscapes as part of the ultra cycling races with no outside support.
"When I did my first, self-supported ultra-cycling race, I realized that I could ride my bike anywhere in the world, [on] my own.... and it opened the door to the infinite."
Around the same time, Perrine discovered her love for trail running. Since then, she has completed two OMAN by UTMB®, the TDS, the Diagonale des Fous, and the SwissPeaks 360. Away from her ultra adventures, Perrine is a lawyer living and working in Qatar. In the following guest post, she talks about her spontaneous bikepacking adventure in Norway this year.
Last summer, I was stuck in Europe. I live in the Middle East but because of COVID, I wasn't able to go back to Qatar after my expedition in Siberia at Baikal Lake earlier in March. So I spent the summer with my parents in the south of France and decided to make the most of it.
After several cycling and running adventures in France, I [decided] to join a relay team to swim across the English Channel. Perfect training for my solo swim (non-wetsuit) next year. I started to train in the Mediterranean Sea, but I realized that it would be great to do some training sessions in cold water before heading to the UK. My adventure partner, Steven Le Hyaric, and I decided to go to Norway. To the Lofoten Island to be precise. It has always been a dream of mine to go there because it is the perfect destination for trail running and swimming.
We found flights to Tromso and just a few hours before heading to the airport, we decided to take our bikes because there was no car rental available (at a decent price). So, instead of a swimming trip, we decided to do a bikepacking trip, covering around 1200 km in less than a week. Since I really wanted to swim and trail run, we chose a way (including one ferry) to shorten the distance, but fully experience Norwegian nature.
We unpacked and prepared the bikes right at the airport at 8 p.m. and decided to go as fast as possible to the Lofoten. We then wanted to take our time to go back to Tromsø by taking a different route. The first night was amazing - – our first bike ride under the midnight sun. Nearly impossible to describe. The sun was bright - – golden sunshine - – then, all in pink and suddenly it was sunny again. It was a tough ride. We expected the route to be flat, but it was hilly and the hot weather made it even more exhausting. But it was worth it, we saw many [deer] and other animals. The nights were so quiet, it was magical.
The next evening, we finally arrived at Svolvaer, a city of Lofoten Island. The coastal and mountain scenery became more and more beautiful. One of the most spectacular places to explore. I managed to do a couple of dips in the cold water (around 10 degrees Celsius). Unfortunately, I didn't manage to swim properly (too cold, even if it looked extremely warm for Norwegian people), but it was a good way to acclimatize.
We did a couple of hikes and arrived in Reinebringen. Speechless, amazing, stunning, I don't have words to describe the midnight sun at the top of Reinebringen and another one at the beautiful island of Senja (seal trail). Another highlight of the trip was to sleep at Kvalvika beach. It is a short technical hike to get there. We were so used to taking our bikes with us that we didn't really think about how exhausting it will be to carry them along the way. It took us two hours and demanded the utmost of us. But it was worth it.
To summarize, I would say that our bikepacking trip through Lofoten Island was a lifetime experience. Around every corner you find incredible scenery. Quiet roads, small fjords, mountains, lakes, impressive nature, postcard views, nice camping places, fishing villages, and the midnight sun experience. It is every cyclist's dream because you can simply ride all night long without even noticing it. In the past, we always rode as fast as possible, but this time, we just wanted to explore Lofoten Island.
After all, 2020 is the year of the most unexpected things and we learned to enjoy the unplanned. We felt like the luckiest people in the world, especially in those difficult times.