Shared Territory Bikepacking Film Makes Denver Debut
When most Colorado cyclists decide to venture into the world of bikepacking, they usually choose something local- such as the Colorado Trail or the Alpine Loop.
Not so for local cyclist Justin Balog. For his first bikepacking tour, he chose Iceland.
Why Iceland? Iceland has long held special meaning for him.
Inspired by the story of tenth-century Icelandic farmer and warrior-poet Egill Skallagrímsson, Shared Territory is an epic bike journey two decades in the making.
As an undergraduate at Colorado State University in the mid-1990s, Balog’s fixation with Icelandic lore grew after reading Egil’s Saga.
“I became fascinated with the Icelandic Sagas in college. Years later, I visited Iceland to witness the northern lights. Following a short conversation with a flight attendant, I decided to rediscover an ancient passage and ride through the Icelandic highlands on my bike,” said Balog.
Shared Territory chronicles his two-week journey that took Balog and his cycling partner over Europe’s second largest glacier, in between three active volcanoes, and over 457 river crossings.
According to Balog, the flight attendant acknowledged that many people ride around Iceland, but had never heard of anyone riding a bicycle through it. The route had been ridden by horse back, why not try it on bike?
Planning for the film began in earnest in January 2018 and took nearly a year (seven months of planning, two weeks filming on location, and four months of editing) to complete.
Despite being preoccupied with coverage, negotiating dangerous conditions, and creating a compelling narrative, the Icelandic journey provided Balog with the sense of awe he had dreamed about so long ago.
“There’s no better narrative than one steeped in mythology, right? I wish we could go back and just ride and not worry about filming. It’s such an incredible place! I would love the opportunity to enjoy it again,” he said.
Gear that Balog and his partner used: MOOTS titanium-framed bicycles, ENVE wheels, Ortlieb bags, Maxxis tires, Big Agnes sleeping bags and bivys, Karpos camping/expedition gear, and Sportful kits.
Shared Territory makes its Denver debut on March 14 at 8 PM at the Oriental Theater located at 4335 W. 44th Avenue. Tickets are $15.