Arrival in Inuvik: The tropical North - Slightly North of Sanity - CycleBlaze

March 9, 2017

Arrival in Inuvik: The tropical North

Toes Remaining: 10

It was a chilly -38 C in Yellowknife this morning. The deal was if I cleaned weeks' worth of snow off my host's truck, there was an 80% chance he would drive me to the airport. The other 20% came from the possibility of the truck not starting.

But it started easily and, despite a continued lack of confidence in the truck's ability to make the 10-minute journey, I was soon saying goodbye and carting my luggage to the check-in counter.

The plane made a stop in Norman Wells, where the captain cheerily announced it was a beautiful day at -40 C.

When he later told us it was -20 C in Inuvik, the woman behind me exclaimed, "Oh, good!"

I was in a land where people were relieved to find out it's only -20. That's practically tropical for winter here, and I decided to go ahead and assemble my bike in the airport, thus saving taxi fare.

After hastily piling my luggage on the bike, including strapping a big duffel bag across the back, I tentatively pushed it a few hundred metres, then tried riding it.

I immediately veered to the left, straight off the road. I tried again; a bit better. But my luggage weight was so unbalanced--too high as well as too heavy on one side--that it was a sketchy ride to town.

Every large piece of gravel, every permafrost-caused dip in the pavement, every uneven crust of snow was a potential crash site.

Even so, I couldn't help but notice the frozen Mackenzie River off to my left, lined with coniferous trees, so serene. I smiled. It was going to be a fantastic tour.

I reached Inuvik (population 3200) and was greeted by two things: a freezing wind and news that the road to Tuk was still closed, as it had been for the past week. Minor detail.

The guy who wears shorts all winter then called ME crazy, and told me of a few other cyclists who had biked the ice road already this year.

"You mean they were here in January and February?" It's practically spring now that it's March. The depths of winter bring no daylight and extremely cold temperatures. It's an unbelievably harsh land.


"So that makes me less crazy than them."




He then told me there was another cyclist currently in Inuvik, waiting for the road to reopen.

I was happy to hear that for about five seconds--until I realized I couldn't tell anyone about him because it would negatively affect my crazy-badass status. People who were now seriously impressed would think way less of me.

And yes, that was my main concern the night before I left the security and warmth of Inuvik for the barren expanse of the Arctic.

Today's ride: 13 km (8 miles)
Total: 13 km (8 miles)

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