Do you recognise this thing?
You see or hear something and it won’t leave you alone?
It’s been month’s since I saw this youtube video and though:
Far out! That’s ridiculous! Who would do such a thing..?
I could never even attempt something like that!
It looks miserable.
And that’s pretty much how I suddenly find myself in the far far North of Canada. About to attempt to cycle an Ice Road before heading south.
It was a mission and a half to get here.
But let me take you back a little while.
Just after taking this picture;And getting all that terribly salty slush off my bicycle,
I decided it would be a good idea to go and surprise my lovely family in the Netherlands.
I didn’t tell them I was coming back so that was a bit of a shock. Lucky nobody minded all too much and it almost felt like a late christmas celebration. Getting the whole lot in one picture isn’t an easy task.
Three sisters, three brother-in-laws, six nephews & nieces and one set of grandparents! 🙂
(my parents didn’t make it in this time, but they were there!)
Another reason to get back is to fit in a few more weeks of work in Northern Ireland.
During this time my mind kept wandering back to snow and ice, and that little video.
Funny how quickly you forget that really freezing temperatures can be rather unpleasant at times.
And it’s not that I really thought I could ever really do what Iohan did.
The thing is I didn’t have a back-up plan, and I kept putting little steps in place to make it happen.
I got back to Vancouver (with a brand new 6 months to play with! ) where Ric had lovingly looked after my bicycle for two months.
The same day I found out about a rideshare website Kinjiji and found a guy headed to Calgary. He dropped me in Kamloops.
Ofcourse I could’ve taken a plane from Vancouver, but seeing that a single trip to Inuvik cost the same as two return flights to Europe I decided against it.
It would’ve been more practical had I not smashed my phone between the door and the car. I guess that’s the end of worrying when & where to charge it.
In the meantime I had messaged my friend Terry (remember Terry & Jake?) to ask if he knew any one headed north. Turn’s out he himself was! And took me from Kamloops to Williams Lake ( 300 km) where I prepared my bike for some more winter conditions and tried making myself believe this is really what I’m doing.
I didn’t believe me.
And decided to take a little spin up to Quesnel,where I caught up with Jim and found a pair of boots in a clearance sale that said they’ll keep you warm at -45 degrees.
I will not be in -45, but I got the boots and that was another little step in this direction. That night I saw my first northern lights in Canada! Apparently a huge solar storm caused for high activity and Northern & Southern light can be seen clearly. It was getting cloudy and I used Jim’s camera since my good dslr has finally given up and died.
Terry had mentioned he wanted to visit friends of his in Ford Saint John. That’s a big jump from Quesnel (557 km), and by this stage I was wondering if I could manage the hike all the way to Tuktoyaktuk.
But checking flights it seemed if I could make it to Whitehorse they weren’t too unreasonably priced. In fact for 334$ we decided that would be the best option.
By now I’ve made a little list. I’m normally not that organised, but if I’m to ride 900km on ice and snow I’ll better be at least half prepared.
It really surprised me when a few days later I ticked off every single thing on my list!
Terry’s friends Patsy & Gary in Taylor helped me out by giving me a huge bag that would be awesome to keep my stuff safe in the plane, and dry on the back of my bike.
Terry had to head back home, but he & dog Jake would not leave until he was 100% sure I was in safe hands and I would get to my destination without any problems.
And after a day-and-a-half of asking around at a fuel station we found me a ride all the way into Whitehorse! (1333km)
Loren got Terry’s stamp of approval.
I had seen his truck with an Alaskan address the previous day. But he had told me he wasn’t gonna move at least another 24 hours.
So when I noticed him the next day I kept bugging him until he gave in and took me on the 20-hour ride!
Loren has been driving trucks for 19 years.
He just got back on the road after an accident with a snowmobile nearly took his life. But with a renewed passion for life and faith in God he runs his truck from his hometown in Alaska up and down (or down & up, what ever way you look at it) to the States, in this instance carrying a huge oil-tank, a broken down vehicle and my bicycle.
Sadly, when the minute of departure after his 34-hour stop finally arrived at 0.30am the truck had different plans, sure enough we got on the road and we moved, but at an agonizingly slow pace. And whatever Loren tried, and no matter how many good idea’s I came up with, after 6.5 hours we had covered a meagre 75km and the truck stopped. So Loren had to take it back to town (it’s gonna take three days to fix) and I was were I started 3 days ago…
Minus a scarf (Loren, if you read this!…I had that scarf since I was 14….)
With now only 48 hours and 1400 km between me and my flight. I started to get a tiny bit nervous.
But there was Mike, he’s just been driving up from near Edmonton on his way to the oilfields, he couldn’t take me all the way but the next town (400 km) wasn’t a problem.
So we chatted about life and death and most things in between and cruised to Fort Nelson where I spotted three big trucks along the road.
It wasn’t hard to find the drivers, Mike, Mike & James were on their way up to the far north to move a goldmine.
I rudely interrupted their lunch and after discovering I wasn’t a druggie or had a bunch of friends outside who needed rides as well they agreed to haul me along to the next settlement. Watson Lake (650km)
The scenery changed, we got through the Rockies and the view, the weather and the temperatures were just spectacular!
When something happened to one of the trucks I started to think that maybe I was bad luck for truck drivers… But they got the show back on the road in no time and I was told if I didn’t mind making a little detour they could drop me off in Whitehorse around lunchtime the next day!
I know I don’t look all too excited in this picture,
But I was! I was pretty sure not to miss the flight but now I hadn’t slept properly a few days but the back of the truck is a pretty comfortable place to rest a while.
As they pulled over for the night at Teslin Lake I decided to sleep outside under the stars.
With about 1250 km this is the biggest distance I’ve ever covered on land in one day.
And luck would have it the Northern lights came out to play!
At times like these a tent would just be in your way.
Mike dropped me right in Whitehorse the next morning,
WIth a very dirty bicycle but enough time to push it through the car wash (yes, no shower this time) and a mission to find a box to pack her up.
I met up with Dan, who I had spoken to in Fort Saint John while looking for a ride, he couldn’t take me up but we caught up and spent a day running errands and eating Philippine food. As you do when in the Yukon..
He made sure I got to the airport bright and early where the people from Air North were super helpful and never charged me for the ridiculous amount of baggage I’m dragging around with me! I had expected a huge overcharge so that was a wonderful surprise 🙂
After two more stops we descended over the McKenzie river delta. It looked like a work of art!
I never believed I could make it this far.And in time to turn around and make it back to meet mum & dad. Who fly into Vancouver at the end of May. (I’m still not sure I’ll make that in time…)
At least I’m not the maddest person out here right now. I’ll have good company in the 6633 Ultra race, I came across one fella on my way into town from the airport, that is some serious running they do! and there’s two guys hiking 2000km with a sled. All this makes me feel much better…
So here I am!
With nothing else to do than get on that bike and paddle like a bloody mad woman.
If only I hadn’t left my 4-season tent in Europe….
31 thoughts on “Here we go”
Enjoy the Dempster. We cycled it in August a few years ago, an incredible trip, and one I recommend to everyone. I’m looking forward to reading more on your blog now that you are back on the road in Canada. Safe travels.
So excited to foloow you, I hope you can post updates often and that you have better weatner than Iohan did! How did you get the bike cleaned up so well?
Just awsome…. Keep going girl ……..
Looking forward to the epic ride South.
Wow ik volg je nu al heel lang en wow wat een avonturen! Ik ziie dat je nog steeds op een multicycle rijdt. Wij ook, maar tegenwoordig op een tandem. Want ik kan niet meer zelfstandig in t verkeer. Maar daarom geniet ik zo van jouw reizen. Geweldig. Net of ik een avonturenboek lees, met plaatjes 🙂
Wow. Thats impressive! I hope you will enjoy the ride.
Hoi! Ik heb weer genoten van je reisverslag. Prachtige beelden, mooie verhalen. Geniet van Vancouver!
Groeten en een veilige trip gewenst,
Geweldig..ik verheug me al op je verhalen en prachtige foto’s …heb je al een nieuwe camera? Hele goeie reis!
but that’s nothing new 😉
🙂 xxxx love ya,
GOOD LUCK Mirjam and stay safe.
Groeten uit St. Catharines.
Thanks for the blog, you have inspired me and some friends to go and ride the Kettle Valley rail trail in June.
Weer heel mooie verhalen en prachige foto´s! Wat fijn dat je weer je familie kon ontmoeten!
Heel goede en prettige tochten en vriendelijke groeten.
Hoi Mirjam! Mooi dat je toch op tijd was voor je vlucht :-). Weer een boel behulpzame mensen ontmoet… Succes met terugfietsen naar BC, we zullen zien of je op tijd bent als we daar aankomen (anders halen we je gewoon op 🙂 ) Maar voor die tijd gaan we nog een week wandelen op Sardinië, óók leuk. Liefs!
Now I’m sure. You must be crazy. Then I saw Iohan’s film. It’s not you that’s crazy, it’s me.
Have a good ride.
Oh! So happy to know you are safe and well, Mirjam. Welcome back to our beautiful, vast country! After meeting up with your parents will you go for the Divide Trail like Iohan? I know of him because our friend, Joe, whom we know personally, met him up there also cycling and he’s in Iohan video!
If I have not said it before you take the best photos and have the greatest adventures of all the cycle tourists I see on the web. Just brilliant!
I enjoy your news capsules, Mirjam, I really do! I am pleased to see the mini-reflector keeping you safe! Same one, or another? Happy trails, my friend!
You are amazing! Such grit and determination.
Wish you a good trip. Love your blog. Like all the wonderful people you meet.
Ik blijf onder de indruk, fantastisch wat je meemaakt!
Only lost a tent and scarf……so far. Impressive. Take care.
wow impressive! keep on riding girl. love your stories. still hate it i was travelling when you were on Vancouver Island.
Peddle faster so I can read more of your adventures. Wonderful.
Hallo Mirjam, Als je in Whitehorse komt van je van harte welkom in mijn fietsgekke huis. Wij wonen zo’n 20 km van het centrum van Whitehorse vandaan. Fiets lekker en veilig.
Als je komt zullen we stroopwafels voor je maken
So enjoyed reading your blog!!! I find it amazing that you are riding a regular bike in Northern Canada and Alaska!!! What an adventure, please keep safe..
What was the total weight of your staff? These panniers looks so huge!