Boreal Forest Bikers
06 March 2018 | Northwest Territories, Canada
For many of my longer expeditions, I base my entire travel schedule around getting eight hours of sleep. On trips that can be weeks and months, cutting sleep at the start is not an option. For shorter trips like our ice road bike adventure, we could probably get by on less, but there is something about being in a sleeping bag that always seems to relax me. Besides, we're in the new Therm-A-Rest Polar Rangers which are so incredibly comfortable. At the risk of making Maria jealous, I will not divulge the exact amount of time we slept. Needless to say, we awoke well rested.
We have a flexible goal for our bike trip which means we're never really in a rush. Still, this is a unique opportunity for us to be biking here and one that we don't want to waste.
For extended Fat Bike travel in winter, there are a variety of ways to carry gear (which is significantly more than a summer trip). In 2012, I had extra large, lightweight panniers built by the team at Granite Gear. In 2016, I used a Thule Chariot 'arm' to pull a small sled. In races, I've used a more traditional bike packing set up. For this trip, we decided to use two options - panniers and sled. Both have advantages and disadvantages.
While I can carry more on the sled and float better in softer snow, the sled creates a significant amount of drag. To mitigate this drag, Adam took some of the heaviest gear in the panniers in exchange for some of the bulkier items. In this way, we were able to even our pace and effort.
We spent the day riding north in overcast skies and temperatures that hovered around 10 F. The 'road' if you can call it that alternates between land and lakes. We had been warned that the plow would be coming through by one passerby but then another said the truck had broken down. We talked about the weather and the road conditions. I asked his name before saying good bye.
'Eddie Chocolate,' was his smiling reply.
Adam and I continue to be impressed with the size and vastness of this land. Riding through spruce and tamarack, we wondered how much 'land' was land and how much was water. The terrain is rolling with a few ridge lines that intersect our route. This is the boreal forest, the world largest land ecosystem that circles the Earth through Canada, Alaska, Siberia and Scandinavia.
We pedaled steadily taking breaks every hour to snack on Skratch chews or bars. Half way through the day, we eat out soup from our Stanley food jars. I have been eating the same expedition menu for YEARS of my life and have yet to get tired of it.
Yesterday, we slogged through nearly thigh deep snow to find a suitable campsite, but tonight we were able to find a wide swath that had been cleared all the way to a small lake. It was covered in a foot of snow, but there was a hard base underneath and we were able to push our bikes relatively easily to the frozen lake. A picture perfect spot
And as if it were on cue, the sun set sending a shaft of blaze orange into the sky. It was breathtaking.