Epilogue: Where are they now? - Slightly North of Sanity - CycleBlaze

March 21, 2017

Epilogue: Where are they now?

The arrival of spring has brought a few days of warm weather: I think it was -15 C today. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure I haven't seen the last of -30 C, but it shouldn't be sustained cold. In another couple weeks I could probably bike the Dempster as slowly as I want and be okay with camping day after day. But I have a job here now, so the Dempster will have to wait until August, when I'll enjoy mud and grizzly bears. Yay.

On Wednesday afternoon I said I would take the job and could start as soon as I found some clothing, because I had nothing other than my biking clothes. On Thursday morning I had enough clothes that I could go to work, and had spent a whole dollar. For an additional $4, I now have enough for the summer.

On Saturday I got a text from my (female) contact in Tsiigehtchic:

Good morning! Guess who I'm having breakfast with...

It was Mark. I asked how fast he was going.

He says he got overtaken by a couple charming snails yesterday.

I pondered everyone's slowness, then:

Tell Mark I said good luck and enjoy the ride.

I told him, and that he'd inspired you. He smiled and blushed.

Ha! Lies!

Hahaha. It's pretty easy to make an English boy blush.

On Tuesday, a couple showed up at my place of work and asked to speak to me. They were Italian, had already spent two years biking the world, were very experienced campers, had recently arrived in Canada and flown to Inuvik, and made an attempt on the ice road. (They were also the cyclists I had waved to last Wednesday.)

They had made it 30 km in three hours, camped, took four hours to break camp in the morning, and returned to Inuvik.

They wanted my advice. I was flattered and a bit confused, but I had successfully biked to Tuk and halfway back, so I asked them what they were doing and provided suggestions.

The big thing was, being two people, they definitely should not have taken 4 hours to break camp, which was even longer than I took that first morning. I stressed the importance of coming up with a routine.

But I think my advice on food helped the most. They hadn't pre-portioned and packaged their food, whereas all I had to do was grab a freezer bag at dinner and breakfast and add water. No preparation or cleanup required.

After Tuk, they were hoping to bike to Aklavik and then take the road to McPherson from there. I was glad to hear they already knew it wasn't a government road and could be difficult-to-impassable. I think they'll be okay, it's just a matter of adapting to winter.

They had an update on Mark, who apparently hadn't managed to get his bike fixed: he had made it to Fort McPherson and had some decisions to make.

I don't know what happened to the snails who passed him. Hopefully they are making good progress.

So why is everyone so slow?

Winter conditions take everything that could possibly slow a cyclist down and throw them at you all at once.

Cold air is denser and harder to push through. Bulky, heavy clothing is less aerodynamic and also takes more energy simply to move around in. Caloric requirements are higher in the winter, so you're carrying more food weight in addition to the weight of winter gear. Road conditions make you slower. And to top it off, studded tires will knock another couple kilometres per hour off your speed.

A post-epilogue update:

The Italians, unfortunately, were unable to bike the entire ice road and didn't even attempt the Dempster. Mark successfully rode to Whitehorse. A few more cyclists passed through Inuvik, including an organized tour where cyclists got shuttled back to Inuvik each night. In late April, the road closed for the last time. The all-season road will open in November.

As for me, well, I still have to conquer the Dempster, but that's a topic for my next journal.

Rate this entry's writing Heart 1
Comment on this entry Comment 0