From tornado scares to funny encounters: Leonard shares his adventures filming bike routes

We have a lot of routes on Bike Labyrinth so that everyone can pick their favorite. It’s our goal to film all over the world, but since the world is quite big, it can be difficult to do all of this by ourselves. That’s why we sometimes team up with people eager to bike around the world and film in the process. Leonard has filmed most of our routes in the USA, Canada and South Korea, so who better to ask about his experiences cycling for Bike Labyrinth?

Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park
Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park

How did you come in touch with Bike Labyrinth?

“I just finished college and was traveling around Europe when I met Ella (founder of Bike Labyrinth) in a hostel in Bordeaux. Ella was filming routes in France at the time and we connected over technology and our interest in the world. She asked me if I would like to film some routes in North America and that’s how it all started.”

What would a typical filming day look like?

“I’ve spent a whole summer filming the USA and Canada for Bike Labyrinth. I would travel around with all the filming equipment and my bike in my tiny car (well, tiny for American standards). Usually I'd spend around 6 hours filming during the day, I’d travel to the next destination, get some dinner, sleep at a hotel and do it all over again the next day. It was amazing to see the USA this way and travel around all the different states.”

How do you know where to go while cycling?

“We now have a GPS-system with a map showing you exactly where to cycle and where to stop for a decision point or the end of the route. But at that time we used hardcopies of the map. Job was still making those maps and he would send them to me the night before I would cycle that route. When I’d arrive at the next destination, I would look for a place where I could print out these maps so that I would be ready for the next day.”

Mount Rushmore National Memorial
Mount Rushmore National Memorial

Sounds like a lot of fun, were there also moments where things didn't go as planned?

“One of the scariest moments during the trip was in Indianapolis, Indiana. In the middle of filming the route the sky turned pitch black and the tornado alarm went off. I had to decide quickly to stop the route and take off in my car hoping I would not drive straight into the tornado. A few weeks later I came back to finish filming the route so when you’re cycling Indianapolis on your Bike Labyrinth you will be able to see the difference.

Another time when I was filming I stopped in the middle of the road for a decision point. To make the decision point go smoothly in the software you have to wait a few seconds before you continue to cycle. When I stopped this time a Canadian man in a car behind me got really upset and would not move past me. He kept honking and screaming at me that I should not have stopped. After a few seconds I had enough footage for the decision point, so I could move out of the way. And of course the sound was taken out of the final edit.”

Luckily it didn’t end in tears! On a happier note, can you tell us about some of your favorite memories?

“I have so many, but a few in particular are from the route through the Great Canyon. I was walking the trail while filming the route and in front of me a little boy kept falling down. He was visibly frustrated and wiped his shirt every time it got dirty. It was so adorable to look at and it was hard to keep quiet while filming.

Another funny encounter was in Washington. I was waiting for a red light and a man was crossing the street in front of me. As he was walking a car crashed into another car behind me. Luckily the car and everyone in it was fine, but the reaction of the man crossing was really funny. And I had the reaction on film, so I've played that back many times when I needed a laugh.”

You also filmed car-centric cities like Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Houston, what was it like to cycle there?

“These cities are mostly car oriented and not respectful or paying attention to cyclists. It could be quite difficult to get around or bike safely in these cities. Especially since I've had to stop every now and then for the decision points to be made. But the advantage of a bike is that you can look around a bit more and slow down. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know all the cities this way and seeing way more than you would walking around.”

You also went to South Korea, can you tell us a bit more about this?

“This was almost a year after I filmed the routes in North America. Ella called me asking if I would like to go to South Korea in one week and film some routes there. Of course I said yes. During this week I got ready to film some routes. This was quite different from North America. Not only was the culture different, the whole experience of cycling was also different. I’ve filmed the North American routes in the summertime while South Korea was filmed in the winter so it was very cold. To move the map on the GPS-system, you have to use your hands, so biking with gloves was not an option.”

Do you have a favorite route?

“That’s a hard question because I filmed so many and liked them all. But the most beautiful one must be Banff National Park around Lake Louise in Canada. This is a stunning lake and the trail circles around it so you can enjoy a view of the incredible turquoise water. I also really liked Vancouver. This is a huge city and has busy roads and streets, but around the city you have a beautiful ocean view which ensures instant relaxation.”

Curious about the routes we’ve talked about in this article? Cycle them now on your Bike Labyrinth with a subscription or get our free brochure for more information.