Skip to main content

Pedaling for LEO: Departure For The North Cape with Joffrey Maluski

Joffrey Maluski cycles on a road with loaded bike along a snowy coastline with a brown barn in the background.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your cycling background.​

My name is Joffrey Maluski. I am 29 years old and I’m from France. I’m passionate about outdoor activities (hiking, bivouac, climbing, highline, rope jump…), and I’ve been traveling for years, sharing my adventures through photography. In 2017, I started a three-year road trip from Canada to Guatemala. It was a very instructive journey that made me want to travel differently, in a more sustainable way. So I returned to France to prepare for a bicycle world tour. But the COVID-19 pandemic changed my plans. I took it as an opportunity to visit my own country, and did my first two bikepacking trips in the French Pyrenees and French Alps. As soon as the borders reopened last summer, I headed to Iceland for a three-month bikepacking trip across the country, from north to south and east to west by the highlands.

  • Joffrey kneels outside of his tent in the snow. He wears a puffy winter jacket and his bike is in the background.
  • Joffrey rides on a road dusted with snow. His bike is loaded with gear and he wears ski goggles.

​What made you decide to do this bikepacking trip?

I wanted to face the cold, experience the Lapland winter landscapes, and see the northern lights.

You partnered with Association Léo, which helps families and finances research on pediatric cancers. Can you tell us a little bit more about this organization, and why you decided to partner with them?

Association Léo is a non-profit created in April 2018. It was named Léo after the association’s president’s son, who joined the stars in 2017. He suffered from a rare cancer but fought like a lion. It was important to me to help the children and their families travel through my photos and videos so that they could experience the landscapes of Lapland and the northern lights to change their difficult daily life.

How did you choose the route?

My first idea was to cycle from Helsinki to the Nordkapp. But after introducing the project to Association Léo, I thought it would make more sense to start the challenge from home so I could share the ride all the way from France to the Nordkapp with the children.

How did you prepare for the trip?

I’m not used to training a lot at home, but I’m often travelling on my bike, hiking, climbing, and doing everything outside. I think the most important thing for this kind of trip is motivation and a good mindset.

I’ve optimized and organized my gear through the experiences of my past trips. If I can offer some tips, it’s important to not burden yourself with unnecessary things out of a fear of being uncomfortable. If your budget allows it, go for quality, lightweight equipment, but keep in mind that you will find what that suits you best as you go on adventures and gain experience!

  • Aerial view of Joffrey cycling on a winding road along the forested coastline.
  • Joffrey pulls his gear in a sled while on a pair of skis.

Tell us about your setup for the trip. What pieces of gear did you find to be most useful?

I have a Genesis Vagabond bike with 1 x 12 (10–51t) gearing and everything to be self-sufficient, such as a -30-degree sleeping bag, an expedition tent, a fuel stove, and studded tires for the ice (45NRTH Kahva 29). I really like to have lots of Fixplus straps with me, as they allow me to attach everything on the bike. I also loved my pogies and Wølfgar BOA boots with the removable wool liner. I didn’t have pogies on my bikepacking and ski touring trip in the French Alps last year, and this time I found them really useful for blocking the cold and keeping energy bars warm inside.​

  • Joffrey's bike is shown in the snow, fully loaded with gear and equipment.
  • A red tent is pitched in a barren snowy landscape. Skis and some camping gear are nearby.
  • Sun shines on the front rack of a bike with 45NRTH winter tires.
  • Joffrey puts on his 45NRTH winter cycling Wolfgar boots while sitting in the snow.
  • Joffrey crouches in the snow preparing camping provisions outside of his tent.

Is there anything you would want to add to (or remove from) your kit if you were to do a similar trip in the future?

Actually, no. I used everything I carried and didn’t feel like I missed anything.

What were the conditions like on your trip?

I had really good conditions from France to Germany, then it was rainy and windy in Denmark and Sweden. It got much colder in Finland, down to -20 degrees. This meant no more rain, which was really good. The humidity and headwinds were the most challenging! I didn’t have a big issue with the cold — I just tried to keep my breaks to less than 3–4-minutes to avoid getting cold.

  • Aerial view of a road covered in snow, running over a frozen creek and forrest.
  • A landscape view of the snowy hills. The sky is dark blue and the moon is bright.

What were some of the most challenging moments, and how did you push through those moments?

The north wind, which was blowing very hard at the end of the trip. Wind is the hardest mentally, I fought against it all day to make the minimum mileage I’d need to arrive at the North Cape on time. I listened to lots of music and podcasts to pass the time.

What were some of the highlights from the experience?

Watching the northern lights from the tent after a day of cycling 8-9 hours. It was a great reward.

A small tent in the foreground is illuminated from a lantern inside. The Northern Lights are vibrant in the sky.

What did you do to recover during the ride?

I didn’t take many days off. On the hardest days, I tried to stop myself earlier (around 4 p.m. instead of 6 p.m.) to pitch the tent, enjoy the sunset, cook something warm, and fall asleep early.

What did you learn from this experience?

Cycling against the wind, you learn a lot; it’s taxing on your motivation and mindset. It’s really exhausting, but you have to forget it and keep going. A friend texted me this when we were on the Iceland bikepacking trip: “Wind is like life, sometime you fight, sometime you fly!”

A single cyclist rides along a snow covered road along the wanterfront.

Do you have any advice for someone who might be interested in planning a similar ride?

Bicycle touring and bikepacking are not reserved for over-trained cyclists. Everyone can ride at their own pace; our bodies quickly adapt to the difficulties and the efforts required for touring. I also think that with good motivation and mindset, we can go very far! Just get started and you will see, it rolls almost by itself!

How can people donate to this cause?

My online fundraising page is still up here : https://lc.cx/cagnotte-pedaler-pour-leo. You can also give directly to Association Leo here: https://www.associationleo83.com.

What’s next for you?

I have lots of projects in mind! The next one will be sailing from Sweden to Portugal in May and June.

Joffrey poses for the camera with his bike in front of a tall globe statue along the waterfront.