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Adrenaline and adventure on two wheels feature at The Banff Mountain Film Festival

Emma Cole
15 Mar 2022

Inspirational adventure tales and high adrenaline action on two wheels forms part of the prestigious outdoor film festival

The Banff Mountain Film Festival UK & Ireland Tour is currently visiting the UK, and it includes some mesmerising films about cycling, in particular West Highland Way and Follow the Light.

The festival draws some of the world’s best filmmakers and accomplished outdoor people to celebrate adventure, the environment, mountain culture and the outdoors through film.

Out of over 300 entries, 13 films were chosen to form part of the prestigious festival this year, ranging from moving tales of overcoming adversity through perseverance to high-adrenaline action.

The Banff Mountain Film Festival has been held every year since 1975.

West Highland Way: Rab Wardell’s Record Attempt

West Highland Way follows Scottish cyclist Rab Wardell’s record attempt the 96-mile trail route which includes 10,000ft of climbing through some of Scotland’s harshest terrain.

It is a heart-warming, raw and funny account of Wardell’s record attempt.

‘To have been nominated for an award and subsequently taken on the Banff World Tour means the world to me,’ says Wardell, who is a UCI XCO World Cup racer and has represented Scotland in the Commonwealth Games.

‘To be in a position to make films about off-road cycling, especially at home in Scotland, is a real career highlight for me and something I’m really proud of.

‘I grew up obsessively watching films about racing, freeriding, bike trials and all sorts, I was the kind of person who would wear out the VHS tape because I’d watched the films so much, so it’s a dream to be able to make films about riding and racing my bike for a living.’

Wardell is a mountain biker at heart but also loves road, gravel, cyclocross, track, and even BMX. ‘If it has two wheels and handlebars, then I’m probably going to like it,’ he says.

Wardell rode the West Highland Way from Milngavie to Fort William in 9h 14min 32sec on September 18th, 2020, setting a new FKT. His record has since been broken by Connor Swift.

‘I was quite happy when Connor lowered the time again, as he and I had been chatting quite a lot in the lead-up. He had been inspired to ride the West Highland Way after watching the film,’ says Wardell.

The West Highland Way follows old cattle drover routes and 18th Century military roads along the eastern shores of Loch Lomond, across Rannoch Moor, and up the zigzag ascent of the Devil’s Staircase footpath in Glencoe before reaching its final destination in Lochaber.

The Scottish cyclist hopes the film will inspire more people to walk, run or ride the West Highland Way.

‘What is so fantastic about the West Highland Way is that it is a real challenge for so many people yet it is so accessible,’ he explains.

‘It doesn't matter what your fitness level is, you can walk or ride a short section, or try and complete the whole route in one day.’

Wardell also isn’t ready to leave the West Highland Way behind just yet.

‘I’d like to set a FKT for the West Highland Way unsupported for the first time too, and I think that with the right conditions I can challenge Connor’s time of 8 hours and 32 minutes.

‘We’ll have to wait and see, but I’m excited to give it a crack.’

Filming in such remote and technical places had its own challenges, as filmmaker Andy Ashworth explains: ‘We were constantly rushing to catch up with Rab to film him, with three film teams leap frogging each other all day to capture different parts of the trail.

‘We used cars, boats, e-bikes and drones to capture as much as possible on the attempt day.

‘One of our camera team, Jonny, fell while trying to chase Rab along the trickiest part of the route. Thankfully there weren’t any serious injuries, but it highlighted the difficulty of the section.’

Follow The Light

Image credit: JB Liautard

Follow the Light is an immersive and captivating film shot in Cappadocia, Turkey and features rider Kilian Bron and the filmmaker is Pierre Henri.

Over just four minutes, viewers are treated to epic scenery and insane riding which pushes the boundaries of what is possible with a bike.

‘Together we seek for atypical landscapes where you wouldn't see someone riding a bike and we spend a serious amount of time on location to scout and make the most out of the place,’ explains Henri.

‘In about ten days we did pretty much every single sunrise and sunset so that we could get the best light.

‘The Imam of the city sings before sunrise so we didn’t even need alarms.’

Image credit: JB Liautard

One of the most memorable parts of the film is when Bron follows a light through the region’s rock formations. It is a truly mesmeric piece of filming.

‘We used a flare on a drone. This was the hardest part, it took us three evenings and we had to experiment a lot.’

Other cycling films included in the festival are The Slabs, which features Danny MacAskill tackling the Dubh Slabs, and A Dog’s Tale.

The Banff Mountain Film Festival is currently touring the UK and Ireland and films are also available to watch virtually. For tickets head here.

Feature image credit: JB Liautard

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