Matty & Clare: Lost Captures (Film)
Bombtrack’s latest film follows our friends Matty Waudby and Clare Nattress on a bikepacking trip across Norway, retracing the route Matty’s grandfather cycled in the 1950s based on snapshots in an old photo album. Watch it here, along with photos from their trip and a short interview with Matty and Clare…
In 2018-19, artists Matty Waudby and Clare Nattress set off on a yearlong bikepacking trip around the world, leaving their home in the UK behind and beginning their new life on the road among the mountains and fjords of Norway. Their original inspiration for traveling there was a photo album found among Matty’s late grandfather’s possessions that depicted him as a young man cycling from Oslo to Bergen in the early 1950s. Fast forward nearly 70 years, and Matty and Clare arrived in Norway to attempt to retrace that original route by matching up snapshots of landmarks and natural features they saw as they pedaled along, all while making the experience their own.
Bombtrack’s latest film, Matty & Clare: Lost Captures, documents their time in Norway, showcasing a wide range of physical challenges and unexpected rewards, providing a glimpse into their dynamic as a bikepacking couple, reflecting on what it meant to be following the tire tracks of a family member, and more. Find the full 25-minute film below, plus a gorgeous set of photos from Matty and Clare, an interview with the pair, and some shots from Matty’s grandfather’s trip in the 50s.
“Really, the essence of it is the same. You’re still pedaling. You still have bad weather. You’re still gonna have sunny days.”
Tell us about the logistics of planning your route. How closely did you stick to the original plan and how much of it was impromptu?
MAT: We basically worked backwards from Bergen as we knew that was the area where my grandad toured. We thought it would be great to have a goal to cycle towards, and it definitely made some of the moments much more poignant. We pinned together most of the trip before we went and had a few various options that we could do. We would have loved to ride the 1,000m road but our steady pace got the better of us and we couldn’t fit it in. One day, though!
Your Norway trip was a part of a much larger journey around the world. In what ways did this portion of your trip stand out from your experiences in other countries?
CLARE: I think because Norway was the start of our journey, we were pretty giddy with excitement for the majority of it. The rain, headwinds, putting on wet socks day in day out, and camping in windy conditions didn’t lower our moods because we felt very free. We landed in Oslo, built the bikes up in the airport, and that was us for a year. I still remember fondly the feeling of pure freedom, no work, no bills; life became a lot simpler. Those feelings are one in a million and I hope to feel them again one day.
What were the biggest surprises Norway had in store for you?
MAT: Without a doubt, it had to be how many unexpected images we managed to match to my grandfather’s photo album. There were some that we were pretty certain of but others just appeared in front of us. It was super surprising to see that the setting and landscape hadn’t changed much since the time he was there! I guess it’s a testament to the ruggedness of the landscape.
CLARE: I was a complete beginner at the whole bikepacking thing. I threw myself into it with the best person to learn from as I went. I couldn’t have done it alone; I’d have probably been eaten by a lynx or something. In all seriousness, Norway was packed with warm hospitality from the locals, who on the whole, respect nature and see its valuable benefits for health and wellbeing. The Norwegian mindset, the education system we learnt about, and their right to roam laws are fab. Also, it’s bloody hilly, isn’t it! I think we cycled up a 13-hairpin switchback pass. I knew Norway was the Country with the lowest elevation profile of our trip, so I guess it was great practice to build my confidence whilst exploring its beautiful landscapes.
How do you imagine this trip would have been different if you’d done it in the 1950s?
MAT: Jeez, that’s hard to think of! There would have definitely been some element of the Rough Stuff Fellowship going on. Probably more pushing and the bikes and gear would have definitely been considerably heavier. For the most part, though, I imagine the general experience would have been pretty similar. I am thankful for modern tents and waterproofs that pack down super small!
Do you feel like you uncovered a better sense of who your grandfather was through this trip?
MAT: Yes, 100 percent! He always seemed very reserved around me, occasionally cracking a one-liner, and very much into his gardening. I don’t think I really understood him until this trip. The images from his 20s show a carefree, happy-go-lucky guy, which contrasts with the sensible, organised, and borderline stern adult I knew. I didn’t know he rode bikes or was into photography, either. I think he gave them up with the pressures of running his own business and looking after a growing family. He preferred to blend in with the background and not make a fuss. I feel though, that through this trip, I saw a glimpse of that young, slapstick man finding his way in the world, even experiencing it myself.
What strikes you as you watch this film nearly two years after shooting the original footage?
CLARE: That my riding technique is awful! I don’t think I left first gear at all, even on the flats or downhills, because I knew the next hill was just around the corner. I didn’t try too hard, obviously. I guess now I fight the hills in higher gears to build up those legs! How naive I was, but perhaps that’s what got me there. Sometimes, I guess it is that inner confidence that you can, and will, tackle something you’ve never done before and know you’ll be fine. But hey, two years later, I look back and see a woman who is about to reach 5,614m on the Annapurna Circuit on a bike! I guess we are capable of a lot more than we initially think.
Any words of wisdom for other couples who are considering a bikepacking trip like this one?
CLARE: Try not to take yourselves too seriously and try to enjoy every day. Talk about your insecurities, things you’re worried about and finding hard, things you’re enjoying, and have a day off here and there. I dragged Matty around 60-odd art galleries during our year of traveling. We felt like tourists and not stinky cyclists for even a few hours, seeing inspiring art from all corners of the world. Maybe take a few days off separately, depending on where you go. We used to have a day off here and there individually then come back together and chat about the day we had. It gave us a little more excitement to do our own thing.
MAT: Clare has hit the nail on the head there. It’s important to understand that you’re not always going to get along, that you will have arguments, but you need to be completely open with each other and have some empathy. It’s vital to make sure that there’s an equal level of control over the decision making, otherwise things could come unraveled pretty quickly. It’s pretty amazing to travel as a couple. We have so many funny memories and recollections that pop up on a daily basis. It cracks us up!
Lastly, what kind of projects have you two been doing during the pandemic, and what’s on the horizon?
MAT: I’ve been shooting much more film photography. I’m addicted! That and riding new local roads and routes. You still never quite realise what’s on your doorstep!
CLARE: I’m currently working with scientists for my PhD research, which is super enjoyable. It’s my passion, and I’m just on the rollercoaster of research at the minute, making performance artwork about air pollution. Hopefully, we get to travel again soon and can go bikepacking on the volcanic island of Lanzarote… and eventually get to Japan.
About Matty Waudby and Clare Nattress
Matty and Clare pedaled around Norway, Germany, Spain, Nepal, Australia, and New Zealand in 2018-19. They now live in York, UK, where since returning home and particularly during the pandemic, they’ve explored straight from their front door. The North Yorkshire countryside and North York Moors are their stomping grounds. As artists and creatives, they both enjoy documenting their experiences by bike and love to meet fellow adventure-inspired people.
You can find more from Matty at @getwildmatty and MattyWaudby.com and keep up with Clare at @thetouringartist and Clare-Nattress.com. Also, don’t miss Clare’s piece on Bumbling Through Bikepacking and Matty’s Rider’s Lens feature.