<![CDATA[And Then It Was Over]]> http://www.ericlarsenexplore.com/updates/journal/[xjMsgID]?xjMsgID=262205 <img src='http://www.x-journal.com/member/ericlars/images/b158_736597_scale.jpg'><br />We woke up on Marian Lake after another great night of sleep. Today, was our last day riding so we were able to cut a few corners of our morning routine and packed up quickly. Even though it felt warmer than the previous night (and morning) another ice fog settled over the lake reducing visibility significantly. We had pushed our bikes a couple hundred yards through the snow to camp, and now because of the near white out conditions, it seemed like we were in the middle of Antarctica<br /> <br /> A warm sun burned off most of the fog as we pedaled south toward Behcheko. Because of the cost of logistics here, we did an 'out and back' ride to Whati versus a point to point. I actually enjoyed riding back along the same route. We noticed a lot of lakes and features that we hadn't previously seen. Of course, we were equally impressed by the size of Marian Lake.<br /> <br /> The riding was fairly easy and in a few hours we were back in Behcheko where Davide from Borealis Bike Tours was waiting to shuttle us back to Yellowknife. Obviously, there is more to our whole trip and I hope to share more in the upcoming week, but now we are packing up bikes and drying gear for an early flight home.<br /> <br /> Image: Northern Lights&nbsp;(<a href='http://www.ericlarsenexplore.com/updates/journal/[xjMsgID]?xjMsgID=262205'>View Post...</a>) Eric Larsen Sat, 10 Mar 2018 00:55:03 -0600 http://www.ericlarsenexplore.com/updates/journal/[xjMsgID]?xjMsgID=262205 62.0076 -114.0062 <![CDATA[Audio Update - 08 Mar]]> http://www.ericlarsenexplore.com/updates/journal/[xjMsgID]?xjMsgID=262204 A new remote audio post has been added to the blog...&nbsp;(<a href='http://www.ericlarsenexplore.com/updates/journal/[xjMsgID]?xjMsgID=262204'>View Post...</a>) Thu, 08 Mar 2018 22:18:08 -0600 http://www.ericlarsenexplore.com/updates/journal/[xjMsgID]?xjMsgID=262204 <![CDATA[Boreal Forest Bikers]]> http://www.ericlarsenexplore.com/updates/journal/[xjMsgID]?xjMsgID=262203 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.<br /> <br /> 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. <br /> <br /> 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. <br /> <br /> 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.<br /> <br /> 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.<br /> <br /> 'Eddie Chocolate,' was his smiling reply.<br /> <br /> 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.<br /> <br /> 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.<br /> <br /> 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<br /> <br /> And as if it were on cue, the sun set sending a shaft of blaze orange into the sky. It was breathtaking.&nbsp;(<a href='http://www.ericlarsenexplore.com/updates/journal/[xjMsgID]?xjMsgID=262203'>View Post...</a>) Eric Larsen Tue, 06 Mar 2018 21:50:05 -0600 http://www.ericlarsenexplore.com/updates/journal/[xjMsgID]?xjMsgID=262203 63.0039 0 <![CDATA[Audio Update - 05 Mar]]> http://www.ericlarsenexplore.com/updates/journal/[xjMsgID]?xjMsgID=262202 A new remote audio post has been added to the blog...&nbsp;(<a href='http://www.ericlarsenexplore.com/updates/journal/[xjMsgID]?xjMsgID=262202'>View Post...</a>) Mon, 05 Mar 2018 21:48:08 -0600 http://www.ericlarsenexplore.com/updates/journal/[xjMsgID]?xjMsgID=262202 <![CDATA[Adventure Prep]]> http://www.ericlarsenexplore.com/updates/journal/[xjMsgID]?xjMsgID=262201 <img src='http://www.x-journal.com/member/ericlars/images/b158_275961_scale.jpg'><br />For better or worse, I'm interested in a variety of adventures. Most are well-planned epics that require months of planning and preparation. Then, there are the others, the smaller trips - a couple of weeks in Mongolia; a human powered border to border adventure across Colorado, a short Fat Bike trip to Yellowknife... These require less overall planning but still enough preparation to make time management a must.<br /> <br /> For these smaller trips, I generally enlist one or two friends from somewhere around the country. Most don't really know what they're getting into but come along regardless. It takes a special person to leave the comfort and convenience of normalcy and light out for the unknown. And trusting too. I'm a big picture guy, leaving some details to be sorted out later as need arises.<br /> <br /> The truth is I actually like the details too - pouring through gear to find the exact right piece of equipment, implementing systems to keep me safe, finding routes through remote wilderness. I could spend all day sifting through these small aspects of adventure planning. However, on any given day, I'm also dealing with a variety other expeditions (North Pole, Greenland, Alaska, Antarctica) and the hundreds other details associated those trips permits, logistics, gear and more.<br /> <br /> Which brings me to Adam. My short week adventure is his biggest continuous Fat Bike adventure. But he's no slouch on experience. Having grown up as a competitive biathlete, he's had his own fair share of kayaking, sailing, biking and climbing trips around the world. He's an accomplished fat biker as well having completed the Arrowhead 135 and a long list of other races. Today, he runs Dirty Candy Designs a mountain bike trail building company, but back when we lived in northern Minnesota together, we regularly raced against each other for fun. Sometimes I won, but mostly Adam won.<br /> <br /> There were no races today. Instead, we spent the day reassembling bikes and doing a final gear sort. Adam is just the guy for all this. He is is hard-working and focused. Not everyone can dive head-long into the myriad projects that are involved in prepping for a week of fat biking. It's tedious but each task is a critical part of traveling in extreme cold with not much of a safety net. He's a good mechanic, too and has that engineering mind-set that is so often useful for problem solving).<br /> <br /> After the bikes were together, we spent most of the afternoon riding around Yellowknife and enjoying the near spring-like conditions: 10 degrees Fahrenheit and no wind. Last night, we could barely keep our footing on the icy roads, but our studded Terrenne tires gripped the slick surface like it was dry pavement. Our first stop was the newly finished ice castle, then down the ice road (can you see a pattern here). Then, we snuck out on some snowmobile trails through the woods. It was incredible and we could barely contain our enthusiasm. I have had a life-long love affair with bikes and today's ride only reenforced the passion.<br /> <br /> Tomorrow, we will get a shuttle about 100 kilometers to Behchoko and begin pedaling in earnest.<br /> <br /> Image: Adam in riding in front of Yellowknife's Ice Castle&nbsp;(<a href='http://www.ericlarsenexplore.com/updates/journal/[xjMsgID]?xjMsgID=262201'>View Post...</a>) Eric Larsen Mon, 05 Mar 2018 00:05:03 -0600 http://www.ericlarsenexplore.com/updates/journal/[xjMsgID]?xjMsgID=262201 62.0076 -114.0062 <![CDATA[Ice Road Bikers]]> http://www.ericlarsenexplore.com/updates/journal/[xjMsgID]?xjMsgID=262200 <img src='http://www.x-journal.com/member/ericlars/images/b158_91757_scale.jpg'><br />In the spring of 1995, I was a brash (and very green) dog musher, finishing up a winter's work leading short dog sledding trips in northern Minnesota. The owner of the dogs, Arleigh, was heading to Arctic to lead a several week-long expeditions into the barren lands and wondered if I would be interested in helping out.<br /> <br /> I was, of course, and four or five days later, we were driving on the ice road across the MacKenzie River eventually stopping in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. On the shore of Great Slave Lake, we loaded all of our gear, food, harnesses and 34 sled dogs into a Twin Otter ski plane and flew 150 miles farther north to the mouth of the Hoar Frost River. The experience would prove to be one of the more defining moments of my life. With it's rich history of exploration, and it's proximity to the Arctic, Yellowknife has always epitomized true wilderness to me.<br /> <br /> Six years later, in 2001, I was lucky enough to pass through Yellowknife again. But it was only for a few hours - a connection en route farther north to Resolute and eventually Grise Fjord on Ellesmere Island. Still, it was enough time to firmly plant the location in my mind as a place I would need to come back to.<br /> <br /> It has been nearly two decades now since my last visit and I'm more than just a little excited to be back. A little space opened up in my schedule so I called my old friend from northern Minnesota, Adam, and asked if he wanted to join me on a Fat Bike adventure. He runs a mountain bike trail building business and was able to move a few projects around to join me.<br /> <br /> So here we are having just arrived in Yellowknife this evening after a day and a half of packing and getting gear ready. Our plan is to shuttle out to the start of a network of ice roads near Bechoko and ride north from there. It's not a complicated plan, but we don't have all the details totally worked out either. Of course, that's part of the adventure as well and we are looking forward to exploring more and seeing more of this wild land from our bikes.<br /> <br /> Tomorrow, we'll reassemble the bikes and do a test run on the ice road near Old Town where we are staying.<br /> <br /> Image: Adam, pulling one of our Fat Bikes through YZF in the Evoc travel bag.&nbsp;(<a href='http://www.ericlarsenexplore.com/updates/journal/[xjMsgID]?xjMsgID=262200'>View Post...</a>) Eric Larsen Sun, 04 Mar 2018 01:23:02 -0600 http://www.ericlarsenexplore.com/updates/journal/[xjMsgID]?xjMsgID=262200 62.0076 -114.0062