The touristically northernmost place in Europe, Nordkapp, is a destination for many cyclists and a kind of magical place somewhere at the end of the country. Moreover, with a taste of great adventure, because the sun does not set at all in the far north in the summer. But could you imagine what it would be like to ride a Nordkapp by bike in the winter? Summer is knocking on our door, but talking to Bernard-Régis will cool you down for a few more minutes. His winter expedition, which he undertook with his wife Françoise in 1990, was truly extreme.
Were you to Nordkapp before you were there in winter with your bicycle?
Yes, the previous summer. As soon as we knew the expedition was sponsored by Fuji, we went there to investigate its feasibility. People told us life didn’t stop in winter and that roads were kept drivable.
How did you come to the idea of going from Paris to Nordkapp in winter?
At the beginning of my world cycling trip in 1981, in Morrocco, I met a character intent to cross the Sahara Desert on a moped in summer. His theory was that when you go to an extreme country, you’d better go in an extreme season to make it worth your money. He later applied that theory to North Cape and he went there on a Vespa.
Did you cycle all the way?
I did, but Françoise, who had a regular job, only joined me in Rovaniemi on the polar circle where things began to be interesting. She fell ill and had to wait for my return in Karasjok, Norway. On my side, I could pedal only to Skarsvåg, ”the Northernmost fishing village in the world”, because the remaining 14km to North Cape was under thick snow. The owner of the hostel I stayed in, however, was much impressed by my feat and drove me there on his snowmobile.