The Darien Gap, the last adventure of Lucas Brunelle

For who doesn’t know who’s Lucas Brunelle and his Lucas show, we just leave you here some words from Lucas himself: “thelucasshow”. It means something’s unusual, risky, and lots of fun. No matter how outrageous it gets (bribing police, forging documents, riding in storm tunnels, etc.) people simply say “It’s the Lucas Show…”. Lucas with his crazy adventures and his amazing films create a new concept of cycling. We asked him some question just before the release of his last work at Bicycle Film Festival NYC.

1. How and when did the idea start about DARIEN JUNGLE? Who’s the main responsible of this huge bike adventure in the most dangerous jungles in the world?

In 2009 I went to Panama for a business meeting and as the plane flew in we flew over the jungle south of the airport and it looked amazing. I found out this was the Darien Gap and asked every tour guide and agency about it and they said don’t go. I asked the American embassy and they said don’t go. I’m the person responsible for this entire trip.

2. Can u tell us more about your team mates? 

My teammates are Chas Christiansen from San Francisco, Austin Horse from New York City and Manuel Velez of Puerto Rico. I have done many amazing trips with Chas and Austin. Chas is the only person I’ve ever met born with the same good luck that I have which can be a liability. He relates to anyone very well. Austin knows teamwork and had a sixth sense for changing a riding route for the better as you’ll see when I produce the film. Manuel is a photographer and helped me a great deal with the video and spoke perfect Spanish!. I chose this team because they’re 100% honest and reliable and I knew they could handle any physical challenge we’d encounter and I was right.

I was worried about our safety which is why I went in November and did a small part of the route as recon and then planned everything the following four months. I minimized the risks but knew anything could’ve happened.

3. Can you tell us the road/course you made through the Darien Jungle?

The route through the Darien started with single track riding at 20 mph. Then it just got more difficult and included traversing rivers, hiking 14 hours with our bikes and bags, and outright bushwhacking.

MOST DANGEROUS AND CRAZY SITUATION

We were staying at an Indian village and FARC came walking through with AK 47s and cocaine. Seeing FARC in the jungle was fucked and the entire village said we have to leave immediately. We also ran into human traffickers while hiking. We lost the path and picked up another path where we came across an encampment with a black tarp which was eerie. At another village we were awoken by music blasting at 5am on Saturday morning and the next morning a guy was walked down the center of town by police because he just killed someone. I could go on but it’ll be in the film.

BEST MOMENTS

Beginning the journey south with my best friends. We just kept heading south and the checkpoints got more serious and the jungle got thicker. The checkpoints and security disappeared when we illegally crossed the border into Colombia. All along the way we met the most amazing Kuna and Choco Indian tribes. What isolated these people from materialism and mainstream? Dangerous people and nature

And finally – emailing my parents from Medellin that I was ok.

WORST MOMENTS.

I was awake all night getting bit by mosquitos. Another night I awoke from a nightmare about the unspeakable. And another night we were running through the jungle just trying to keep up with the person in front of us so that we could survive and make it to the next village.

BEST PLACE

Too many to name – Cacarica the Indian village, the lily covered streams, the emerald prehistoric jungle itself. FARC, kidnappers, cartel, fugitives, and others were on the same routes we were which in a fucked up way protects this place from the elements I fear the most.

FEELING IN GENERAL

Holy Fuck I’m glad we made it. It was the most challenging trip I ever did. It would be easier to go to ANY other place on this earth.

4. What did you say to Antonio Colombo to convince him to sponsor your project of Darien Forest? What was his reaction?

I told both Antonio and Fabrizio at Interbike 2013 about this trip and they just laughed – “well of course you want to go THERE Lucas!” They understand me, very few people do.

5. Filming. Do you remember the first time your put a camera on your helmet to film? What has changed? Do you still have fun? More fun now?

This was in 2001 when a friend of mine had a shoulder cam at Critical Mass Boston. He got such great footage from this cam that I immediately had the vision that I would mount one on my helmet and film our messenger races. Nobody at that time knew how we wove through traffic and what skills we used.

I used to have nice hair, but I still feel like I’m 19 and have a blast! Yes, more fun because I meet thousands of people a year that I have influenced to take risks and ride!

6. Line of sight

Bicycle Film Festival (BFF) is what caused Line Of Sight to be seen by so many. Line Of Sight changed culture which is why I made it. I want people to live in their own accord and the bicycle is the ultimate expression of that. Mostertrack – these are the most skilled riders in the world and I am honored to have filmed them in the granddaddy of all alleycats. I never get tired of watching the video of Monstertrack.

7. What do you do when you’re not riding a bike or filming?

Other than obsessing about the next film? I’m trying to learn Spanish, spend time with my family, and run my IT company: Geek Choice.

8. Can you tell us about your future?

The film about the Darien Gap is my focus for the future. U-Lock-Mob has an awesome ride through Mexico countryside I will do to CMWC but the Darien is 100% focus right now.

9. Small phrase of your passion for cycling.

Live and Ride Fast

10. Thanks to…

All who take more risks.

More info on: www.lucasbrunelle.com