Breaking the Cycle Yukon

Mar 10

Arrived in Whitehorse

Published at 21:25
Dispatch created from email
The most memorable part of my 25 hour journey from Melbourne-Brisbane-Vancouver-
Whitehorse was the beautiful light and constantly changing cloud
formations over the vast Pacific Ocean. I entertained myself for at
least a couple of hours snapping many photos on my mobile phone
(see below).

I left Melbourne at 9am on Wednesday 8th and landed in Vancouver 6.30am
the same day, then on to Whitehorse, arriving mid-afternoon. Bob Daffe,
our guide for the expedition met me at the airport and I am staying at
his place until we are ready to set off on Monday. In Melbourne, the
temperatures hovered around the 30C mark in the week before I left;
arriving in Whitehorse, the maximum temperatures have been around -16C
for the first three days.

Steve Christini has made me a new bike - the third incarnation of his
patented all-wheel drive fatbike. The bike I trialled in Greenland last
year was pretty good and could have done the job here in Yukon, but as
there were a few small improvements that could be made, and because I
should take two bikes to Antarctica, it seemed like an opportune time to
test Mark III. There were a few worrying moments over the last couple of
weeks as to whether the bike would be ready and sent to Whitehorse in
time. However, it arrived just before me and we were able to collect it
on the way out of the airport - very exciting!

Yesterday was all about setting the bike up. I took it to the aptly
named Icycle bike store where it could be efficiently set up for the
extreme cold conditions. The bike needed to be 'winterized' meaning that
the hubs and bottom bracket had to be prepared with special grease that
does not freeze. Without changing the grease the hubs and bottom bracket
the bike could be rendered useless in the cold (The bottom bracket
connects the crankset and allows the pedals to be turned freely). I
watched and learned as Josh, the mechanic prepared the bike. By changing
the grease and then leaving it outside to cool down for half an hour
before testing, the friction when turning the pedals was reduced by
about half.

One of the main changes that Steve made was to the frame so it could
accept the widest tyre possible on the rear for maximum flotation. The
Snowshoe 2XL by VEE Tires is a whopping 5.05" or 13cm wide! The front
tyre is the same as before - 4.8" or 12cm in width - though I am
trialling the newest 'Avalanche' model with an improved silica compound
(that sheds snow better). It isn't possible to fit the 2XL tyre in the
front because of the carbon forks and how the AWD mechanics need to be
set up to work.

Secondly, Steve has made a small ski for the front. Josh had to enlarge
the slit for the tyre to fit through using an angle grinder. We now have
a unit that is worth a try. The ski has an adjustable height and is
removable. The idea is to trial it in the soft snow. Any extra flotation
could make the difference between cycling and pushing, but we won't know
how successful it will be until we give it a go.

I gave the bike it's first test, a short 5km ride into town to find
someone who could attach my wolf ruff to the hood of my outer shell
jacket. That was just on the road, but the bike is amazing - it looks
like a tractor but is surprisingly nimble. I have the tyres pumped up
for the hard surface, but on the snow I will have to do a lot of testing
to work out the best pressures to run it on. It will be a balance
between gaining enough traction and flotation over the snow and
minimising energy expenditure.

I've also given my first virtual presentations to school students here;
one update to classes in Victoria and today a presentation to students
in Canada and the USA via a great initiative called Exploring by the
Seat of Your Pants.

Temperature: -16C

Best regards

Dr. Kate Leeming

+61 (0)429 772222 (mobile)
Twitter: @Leeming_Kate
Skype: Kate.Leeming2
  • Name: Whitehorse
  • Elevation: 703 m
  • Latitude: 60° 4316North
  • Longitude: 135° 324West


  • Report as abuse...
    2017-03-11 12:15:25 Joel Sharp says: Very exciting to follow along on your adventure! Really enjoyed your virtual presentation on Friday. The students from New Liskeard Ontario say hello:)
  • Report as abuse...
    2017-03-10 23:20:48 Michael P says: Ready, set, go girl! XX
  • Report as abuse...
    2017-03-10 22:18:16 Andrew H says: Good to see you have arrived safely and plans are coming together. Adjusting from 30 degrees to -16 in 36 hours is a challenge in itself!
  • Report as abuse...
    2017-03-10 21:41:04 arel jay says: enjoy and good luck! Sounds like a great experience in itself and for things to come

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