‘Day & Night’ Film
‘Day & Night’ is a film by Ben Page, supported by Apidura, 7mesh and Canyon. It follows two very different riders, Bjorn Lenhard and Tomy Mulledy, as they take on the 2018 TransAtlantic Way. Raw with emotion, and featuring the stunning landscapes and diversity of entrants that characterise the event, ‘Day & Night’ is a celebration of long distance, self-supported bike racing. Here, we feature the full film and interview the filmmaker, Ben Page.
Ben, what are Tomy and Bjorn like? Was it fun bringing their characters to life in the film?
I couldn’t have imagined two more contrasting, yet equally receptive characters to film. Tomy is a young, wild and whacky bike courier who is taking on his first ultra race and Bjorn is a grounded experienced endurance racer. He competes in these races during his holidays and is widely considered one of the best in the sport. Both were really willing to open themselves up to the camera and allow me to film some fairly intimate and personal moments which made the film what it is.
Did you know what kind of stories you were going to focus on before you arrived at the start line?
Aside from getting to know Bjorn and Tomy through some short interviews we did before hand, I wasn’t sure what would happen – that’s the nature of it! I knew the film needed to focus on their individual experiences – Tomy was a rather naive rider who was entering the race with few expectations of his own performance, and also perhaps underestimating the difficulty of it. Meanwhile Bjorn, the ‘old timer’, understood exactly what the race would entail. These two experiences contrast well against each other and so I wanted to capture how each person reacted differently to similar events that came their way.
How did you keep track of riders whilst on the move yourself?
This was one of the biggest concerns going into the race as I knew that I would have to split my time between the two riders in order to capture their stories. Thankfully I was able to keep track of their progress through DotWatcher, which offered real-time tracking of each of the competitors.
What was your sleep and driving schedule like trying to keep up with events?
In order to cover as much of the racing action as I could I basically adopted a rider’s schedule myself – which wasn’t so easy with Bjorn! I knew events between would be unfolding simultaneously between them, yet at very distant locations. Of course, the riders themselves often don’t know when key events would happen in the day, so it was often the case that I would follow Tomy for the day and then drive on to find Bjorn hundreds of kilometres further down the route.
Was it difficult seeing riders potentially in need, but not being able to help them?
Yes for sure, particularly when Tomy was having difficulties near the end of his race. There was a strict rule stating that I couldn’t help out in any way. Likewise, seeing Bjorn’s exasperation at having to deal with a petrol station attendant in the middle of the night to get food made me rather conscious of all the snacks that I had sitting in the car beside me…
What was the setting of the Wild Atlantic Way like to work in as a filmmaker?
It’s magnificent, and aptly ‘wild’. I’d never been to the west coast of Ireland before, but was really blown away by how beautiful and rural it was. As a filmmaker this was both a blessing and a curse though. I wanted the film to be heavily focussed on the two rider’s stories and the raw experience of participating in one of these races, without falling back on the landscape. In the end, much of the beautiful footage of the route was left out to ensure the film was a true warts-and-all exposé of Tomy’s and Bjorn’s experiences.
What was the most unexpected part of trying to film a bikepacking race?
Probably how much my own schedule was shaped by Bjorn’s. The man doesn’t rest, doesn’t stop, barely needs sleep.
Having spent 3 years bikepacking around the world, you’ve clearly done a lot of riding yourself. Did this project tempt you into trying a race?
Certainly. It was my first insight into what a bikepacking race is all about, and I found that the mixture of camaraderie, personal challenge, and joyous absurdity of the whole thing sat well with me. I’ve definitely left the experience realising I’d love to be a rider in an event some day soon.