Breaking the Cycle Yukon

Apr 06

The Final Push - Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk Ice Road

Published at 07:35
Dispatch created from email
The final push was a three day journey from Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk, the
most northerly town accessible by road in the Americas. The road is a
187km ice road that follows the East Channel of the Mackenzie River
Delta. The ice road has been made famous by the ?Ice Road Truckers?
programme (not that I?ve ever watched it). This year will be the last
time the winter road will be in use. From next season, the all-weather
Dempster Highway extension will be complete and ready for use. This was
a real opportunity to cycle the ice road before it melts in a couple of
months and flows out to sea via the East Channel. Many others have come
to drive, and a few to cycle, the ice road in it?s final season of
As we?d all had a massive day on 1st April (Claudio and I
driving/cycling from Aklavik, and Theresa and Bob driving back to Fort
McPherson to collect the bus, utility and gear and then driving along
the Dempster Highway to Inuvik), I decided to do a short session, about
50km to Reindeer Station for Day 1.

I left from Arctic Chalets, where we were staying, starting at kilometre
one. It was a little surreal cycling past all the boats and barges iced
in along the docks of the channel outside of Inuvik. It was lightly
snowing for much of the day, the snow blanketing the ice surface for
much of the way. After 30km I passed the turn off to the Aklavik ice
road, where I had stopped cycling the previous day. We camped on the
edge of the road, which is very wide, just outside the hamlet. We had
hoped that the 300-strong reindeer herd was within viewing distance from
here, but there was no one around and no reindeer to see nearby.

On Day 2 I scored almost perfect weather - no snow and even more
importantly no headwind which typically whips down from the northeast.
The road/channel was flanked to the east by a small treed escarpment; to
the west, the vast floodplain. As I headed north, the vegetation became
lower and lower and the escarpment dissipated. Overnight I had added two
rows of studs to my front tyre (a very laborious task), and that proved
to be a good move. I gripped the ice with more assurance, though I still
treated the surface with a lot of respect. I didn?t fancy any more heavy
falls on the rock hard ice.

It was a beautiful light for most of the day, but particularly in the
long twilight. The evening Arctic light has been a feature of this
journey, with each day longer by about 8 minutes. I ended up covering
88km, more than I had planned because I felt it important to make the
most of the calm conditions.

It was just as well I only set myself around 50km for the final day,
because overnight the wind picked up significantly. The ambient
temperature was around -13C but the wind chill made it closer to -30C.
Snow drifted across the ice making it appear as a steamy swamp. I was
given a new face mask to try and that proved to be very timely. Within
an hour of setting off I managed to ?grow? my best icicle (or
snotcicle), a double spiked ice beard, about 7cm long! It may have only
been a short day in distance, but the northeast headwind was brutal and
I quickly decided to approach the task as I would any other full day.
There?s always a sting in the tail!

Theresa is a keen mountain biker and so she decided to ride the spare
bike and did two significant sessions, one starting out from the bus,
and then again when she was a little closer to Tuk. There were also a
couple of others from Yellowknife riding the road. They?d taken 4
days and this too was their final day. They started about 16km ahead
of us and earlier as well, but we all reached the destination at a
similar time.

Tuk felt like the end of the world, the end of the road at least.
Claudio and I spent some time to record the moment and the remote town.
I?m sure with the new all-weather road soon in service, life will change
there. There will be little use for the barges that currently line the
docks outside Inuvik now that goods and services will be transported via
the new road all year round.
We headed back down the ice road a little way and camped before heading
back to Inuvik in time for Claudio to fly out tomorrow.
  • Name:
  • Elevation: 10 m
  • Latitude: 69° 270North
  • Longitude: 133° 40West


  • Report as abuse...
    2017-04-08 17:08:50 Robin Leeming-Martinez says: Great training expedition Kate and crew! Well done! Looking forward to seeing you in a couple of days. I must say that I'm a little nervous about how I will deal with the extreme cold
  • Report as abuse...
    2017-04-06 08:50:33 Gary Schultz says: Sounds awesome Kate, keep up the good work. Those Ice Truckers are a brave lot. I hope you don't encounter any, stay safe.
  • Report as abuse...
    2017-04-06 08:47:50 Greg Yeoman says: Kate - a successful end to a tough training trip. Well done to you and the team. And well done keeping up the blogging - you always seem to have the energy to tap away and produce good progress reports even after lots of miles on the bike. Looking forward to the next stage in your preparations. Greg
  • Report as abuse...
    2017-04-06 08:11:31 Philip Endersbee says: Hi Kate, All sounds / reads like you have had a great time. Trust all the gear has worked well & no frost bite !! I have watched the odd Ice Truckers on the box - hard way to make a $ !!! We have had a good run of warm weather here in Vic but our country cousins in Q'ld took a beating on the coast with Cyclone Debbie & the Fitzroy River is still peaking. Cheers,Phil

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