Ice and the beauty of the North

For some reason everything turns out so wonderfully!Happy!

I was nervous and excited to be heading up the ice road on the MacKenzie river delta and the Arctic Ocean.

The plan was to catch a ride to Tuktoyaktuk and point my wheel south from there.
In luck I met a couple of guys headed that direction in the plane.
Until their driver told me it’s against company policy to take hitch hikers. With everybody else already gone I figured I best rig up my bike and head the 11km into town.

The timing couldn’t have been better. I was told Inuvik was just coming up to their annual spring festival, the Muskrat Jamboree is being held for the 54th time coming weekend.

I little cold I headed for the MacKenzie hotel for a warm cup of soup.

That was lucky! Because Natalie & Josh were working. Natalie hasn’t been up here very long, with parents from Colombia and France she’s gorgeous but refuses to have her picture taken. So you’ll just have to trust me on that one.

John is an Ozzie married to a Canadian lady, so lovely to hear that accent again! Natalie was happy to let me crash on her couch for a little while.

With clear and sunny weather I couldn’t resist checking out the Ice.great day for an ice ride

It’s pretty slippery I found as my (studded!) tyre slipped underneath me and I landed on my bum.
But I soon found my pace and with this glorious sun and temperature higher than expected (-10 / -15) I enjoyed the ride.Checking it out And now is the time to do it! As work has been underway and they’re expecting the all-weather road to be completed in 2017.
There will be no more ice road to Tuktoyaktuk then..Still open
I wasn’t planning to head up to Tuk ’till after the festival, but that changed.

I noticed a little dot on the horizon,How'd they know? as I drew closer I saw it was a guy pulling a sled. Than had just walked/ran 500km in less than a week! I’d seen him on my way in from the airport. He’s part of the 6633Ultra Marathon, probably the toughest race on the planet.Than
It was just about lunchtime and we’d just about reached Reindeer station so we had our lunch together and Than surprised me by casually lighting a cigarette before heading out on his mission to finish the race and raise money to build a library back in Thailand.Athelete

We both headed off at our own pace, and I ran into a few others racing too, The Irish

I go a little faster on my bicycle, but they go so much longer!  I ended up running into all of them the next day again.

The first time a big truck passed me on the ice I got a bit of a fright. Ice road truckerI could hear and feel the ice cracking under my tyres, but since the ice seemed strong enough to hold that big load I shouldn’t have anything to worry about.. right?

Nothing to worry about

The days are long now this far north. I love having lots of time to get where you want to go in going nowhere
I’ve been told about a small emergency shelter halfway up the river and I found it!Shelter It was a little bit of a push to get to it, Up hillbut with a stove and a gorgeous view it was more than worth it.Bike viewSunsetComfyI woke up in the night and noticed the mesmerizing lights dancing through the skies again.Love itPretty Northern Lights I felt a little sorry for them guys & girls out there in the cold on the ice all night. They only sleep 2 to 4 hours to get where they’re going in time!Blue BeautyNow, every time I’m a little cold, or a little tired I just think of what those guys have been doing and I realise I’m not that tough.Not so toughAlso, I sometimes have to remind myself that I am having fun, and this is what I most love doing… love it!It’s only a little hard to remember at times when your fingers are about to fall off… 😉really I'm fine!

Lucky that doesn’t happen very often.

After leisurely packing up and having my coffee in the morning I ran into all of them again.

Than was doing well,

Pic by 6633Ultra

Pic by 6633Ultra

he seemed rather cheerful and told me he was expecting to finish at 3am.

When my chain cracked I worried for an instant I might get there at 3 am too. oh crapBut it seemed possible to keep on riding the next 60km on half a link. I just couldn’t remember if I had a spare somewhere… I never needed it before.icy

(as it turned out I didn’t, but Trevor in Inuvik saved the day! )Trevor, my hero.

17 km before the town of Tuktoyaktuk I met Daithi.Catching up with Daihti

He’s an Irish Shaman and told me about the hallucinations he’s been having and the fact it’s rather a miracle he’s here and alive. We walked together until we reached the finish line.

He is the first Irishman ever to complete this race. And he was third overall. Finishing this 566km journey  is an extreme accomplishment. I’m pretty sure I couldn’t do it. And I don’t really feel like trying either. I really like my sleep at night… But I’m inspired and impressed by everybody who does!

And especially the shared number one, Sam and Natalie. That’s right, a lady from the UK won this time!

By now my camera battery died. That was a terrible shame as it had been a grey cloudy day all along but just at arriving in Tuk the sun shone on the town and it was all just perfect!
Lucky they had a camera and snapped a few pictures of our arrival. For all the pictures of their final day check out the facebook page

Pic By 6633Ultra

Pic By 6633Ultra

Than made it too! He finally came in together with Hendra from Indonesia at 4.30AM.

It was early the next morning we all headed back to Inuvik and while they moved on back home I stayed to have a look at this Jamboree.
Special thanks to Lynne and Paddy for leaving me with lot’s of their left over travel food!Lots of food! I’ll be sure to get across the Dempster without getting hungry:)

The Muskrat Jamboree is in its 54th year, a fair feat seeing the town of Inuvik is only officially established in 1958. But it has a strong first nations culture that reaches back centuries. It’s Canada’s northernmost town and means ‘place of man‘ in Inuvialuktun. (yes, I did read the tourist brochure..)

One of the highlights of the Jamboree is the reindeer crossing.Reindeer
Every spring the herd of reindeer that lives up there is herded to an island in the Arctic Ocean, their calving grounds, where they will stay all summer.The herdThe herder is actually a guy from Lapland, Reindeer herderand for this occasion there were reindeer herders visiting from the north of Scandinavia,Saami Saamiand Russia!love theseHerding It was quiet an event and I have to thank Gerry from Up North Tours for inviting me to tag along! (I met him on the ice road a few days earlier)At the herding

After the crossing we had a lunch at the Reindeer station. A beautiful rich reindeer soup was served Great Soup!and I don’t know how they do it, but there was no charge at all!

I love the dress of the ladies up here. Auntie FriedaThere are some beautiful people.

Super friendly and welcoming.Igloo

At night Natalie and I went to see a jigging contest. I had no idea what jigging is. In case you didn’t know either, here’s a little video.

Then there were lot’s of competitions, like dog sledding, snow shoeing, tea boiling,tea boiling competition muskrat skinning (except there were no muskrats so this one didn’t happen)

All in all a great and eventful weekend.Natalie & meThere were a few nights on the town as well…
Natalie and colleagues know how to live it up alright 😉 DancingSo I found myself sipping Martini’s in a hotel lobby… What a difference from a few nights ago!

(not worse or better though! Just different..)
Now I do have to mention that both Natalie & Ray kept picking up my tab and if it wasn’t them it was the boys from the fibre optic cables & Curt so a big thank you to all of them!

Cheers!But after one too many hilarious night’s with my wonderful new girlfriends I figured I better go ride my bicycle a bit.Leaving Inuvik

Heading out on the Dempster was interesting and a little daunting. OwlThe few days of sleep deprivation in Inuvik didn’t help all that much and I found myself almost falling asleep on my bike. My eyes actually closing at times!

But after roughly 70 km I started to wake up and by the time the 130th rolled around I was happy as larry and didn’t feel like stopping.
But I had met Lawrence on the road earlier,Lawrenceand he drove back out to tell me he’s got a place for me to stay if I made it to Tsiigehtchic.

He also made some great photo’s while he was out there!

Pic by Lawrence

Pic by Lawrence

Pic by Lawrence

Pic by Lawrence

Pic by Lawrence

Pic by Lawrence

Uncle Peter has welcomed wayward cyclist before and made sure I was warm, comfortable, well fed,Food!and rested before heading out on the ice again the next morning.

He had a beautiful book and told me stories about trappers and life back in the day.Uncle Peter

After the 133km that day I couldn’t keep my eyes open all too long so I had a great sleep!Leaving Tsiigehtchic

This Dempster highway reminds me a lot of the Great Central in Australia.

Except for the trees, the snow and the temperatures…

actually it’s nothing like it 😉

But there is the distance, the big skies and the endless horizons!

All of the things I love 🙂

That and my bicycle… they have that in common.

43 thoughts on “Ice and the beauty of the North

  1. Ontzettend mooie verhalen weer, en heel bijzondere dingen die je mee hebt gemaakt!
    Bedankt voor het delen weer, het is heel erg boeiend om de foto´s te zien en je teksten te lezen.
    Een heel goede reis verder, en groeten.

  2. That was wonderful, Mirjam! What a journey….and it was great to “be there” with you in the photos! You have lived more in the past 5 years than most in a lifetime…..Five lifetimes!

  3. What a beautiful post. IT sounds magical – and what intriguing people who live there – definitely want one of those colourful coats!

  4. I love seeing all your pictures and read about your trip!!!! Someone would say that you´re crazy to do this but I think you´re amazing!!!!! Hope your trip will keep on being wonderful, Greatings from Djúpivogur:)

  5. What a great journey…adventure after adventure !
    MultiCycle in Ulft heeft 2 mei Open House…
    Best Wishes from St. Catharines and keep safe.

  6. Beautiful photos and post, I really admire your spirit. I rode the Dempster in summer on my first bike tour so it holds a special place for me, would love to ride it in winter! Thank you for sharing

  7. En al weer van die geweldige foto’s, mooi daarginds hoor! En steeds opnieuw allemaal aardige, gastvrije en behulpzame mensen. Dat moet wel genieten zijn… Liefs van ons!

  8. awesome pictures and story. I am Raygan’s mom who lives down in Kelowna, B.C. She sent great pictures as well so feel the excitement of such a wonderful place. Travel safely.

  9. Mirjam, you are doing our beautiful country a great service by showing us all how resourceful and pollution-free one can be while exploring and still be happy!

  10. So what is your preferred cycling conditions? The heat and bull dust of central Australia or the cold and ice of north Canada?

  11. Thanks for sharing your adventure. Amazing!! Where was your starting line and how long did this trip take

  12. This blog and photos are as good as anything of a similar subject you would find in National Geographic Magazine, and its FREE!!!

  13. Such an inspirational blog. Just another one of many you’ve put together. Have always in the back of my mind hoped and planned to ride up north. But until now have always thought it would have to be in the summer months. I’ve scraped those thoughts. I wanna ride the ice road! Would love to follow in your footsteps. Well..tire tracks:)

  14. I hope you make a Series of your travels when you feel your heart is full of all the beauty the earth has shared with you or write a book or do both or li Doco movie. I would buy it

  15. Glad that you are having such a wonderful adventure. It was nice that you got to see my Fire Chief from Jasper, Alberta, too. Safe journeys!

  16. I am sitting here stunned, Thank you for the journey in the north, and the Amazing photos! You are truly remarkable, your talent goes far beyond the bike, I felt like I was there with you!

  17. Hey Mirjam…

    So awesome to see you on your way and making good progress. Fun is always the important part… Beautiful pictures….!!

  18. Mirjam ,
    It’s great to read all about your travels , keep the blog going , you are an inspiration to all of us vacation cyclists !

  19. Great pictures! Amazing trip and wonderful experiences. Especially the pictures with the boots and the ice crack underneath make me awe. Bikes can go everywhere!

  20. What a magnificent journey. Every shot of the ice cracking gave a sense of danger. Every scene of the Reindeer made me smile. And I wondered how many times you’d lost your footing on the bike. Thanks for all the images.

  21. That looks incredibly scary. I can hardly even walk on the ice. But I admire your — I forgot what the word was in the picture — the “desire for freedom.” I usually just sit in the same little space, doing whatevs. Hey — maybe I’ll buy a new bike! 🙂

  22. Oh so much to say! First, thank you for documenting everything so well. I am currently finishing ny first ever bike tour from Canada to Mexico City. Along the way I believe I stopped at a Casa de Ciclistas in Baja California. I believe I saw you left a comment on their guest book, so awesome! I am now contemplating cycling this road before it gets turned to pavement! Very inspiring and fun to read 🙂
    Safe cycles!

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