The Dempster Highway,
Canada’s only all-weather road to cross the Arctic circle, was officially opened in 1979.
That same year, in the Netherlands, a girl was born and decided to go cycle that road in winter one day.
Oh hold on….
I made my way up north and started riding.
When I cycled through Canadian winter last December/January I had hoped for clear blue skies, nice and cool, sunny days and crisp winter scenes.
Instead I got a dreary dark ride (nice and cool none-the-less!)
I cycled past uncle George’s and started heading up the road, just being amazed and in wonder by my luck in the weather. Sure I had heard there’s a blizzard coming my way but that wouldn’t be ’till after the pass.
And that was still many miles away.
The scene was great, the road was wonderfully quiet and the ride went well. With the temperature of about -20 it’s pretty cool but I noticed the sun trying hard to give me a little bit of warmth.
I arrived in the small town of Fort McPherson where the Hanthorns run the small church, being extremely warm and welcoming they invited me to stay in the building where I had access to a kitchen, shower and a warm place to spent the night!
I enjoyed the sunset and moonrise when going for a little walk about.
My preparations for this ride are of my usual high standard;
I thought I would get to James Creek road station no problem, as it was ‘only’ 77 km away.
I might have thought differently if I knew I would be climbing for about 65 of those. But at least that keeps you warm. I much prefer uphill over downhill in those conditions as I cool down to fast on the way down.
Again the road was gorgeous and the wind was good.
And crossing the ice bridge at Peel river I made two wonderful new friends, who were to accompany me all the way to James Creek!
Without complaining those beautiful dogs walked/ran with me for over 60km!
It surprised me to see almost no traffic at all the whole day.
But just at the end Paul, who’s one of the workers at James Creek, came up to let me know the road ahead is closed due to bad weather and snowdrifts.
That explained that.
By the time I made it to their humble abode I didn’t mind much at all,
So we had to sit around waiting for the workers on the other end to get their ass in gear and clear the roads (yes you, Ryan :p )
and the landscape opened up ahead of me
You can imagine my surprised to suddenly see a head bobbing up over the horizon,
We had a quick chat, but neither of us wanted to stand around too long as you do cool down rapidly.
It made me laugh to cycle as fast as I could into a snowdrift to see how far I could get in. That is not far at all, it’s good the road was closed cause a loud laughing Dutch girl up side down in the snow must make people wonder about my sanity.
I knew by now the 110km to Eagle Plains were out of reach.
Lucky for me a trucker had rolled his rig just at the Arctic circle and now it just stood there waiting to be dragged out. Making a perfect shelter for weary cyclists. Greg had told me he spent two nights holed up here in the Blizzard that came through just before me.
I found the key and made myself at home, just after I pulled off the road it must’ve opened as a horde of vehicles came blasting by. So it was a good thing I didn’t push on that evening.
and by the time I got to eagle plains they had closed the road again. By now the temperature was slightly higher, maybe only -10 but I still had to stop three times going down a big hill to make sure my hands didn’t freeze.
He also offered me food, socks and marriage.
When I met him out on the road the next morning he gave me sandwiches and said I should go meet his friend Ricky, he looks after the oil camp 40km down the road.
It had started to snow. And Ricky, originally from Old Crow, showed me around on his skidoo.
That horseshoe bend had me going!
The road winds all over the show and the one radio tower I passed 4 hours ago didn’t seem all too far back when I looked around.
The scene was still stunning and from this high viewpoint I got an excellent view.
Looking around at all the rolling hills with a stubble of trees I thought Canada looked like a big hairy chest you could just canoodle into.
Or am I just going crazy?
When it finally did I noticed a hut, but trying to reach it I buried myself to my armpits in snow. Here is where snowshoes might come in handy, I climbed out and cycled further along a river to find a good camp spot.
Later I found out this spot is called warm Creek.
Truck driver Renee, who I met at Eagle Plains, saw me pulled over and stopped to check if everything was alright. (I was fully dressed at this stage) Everything was, so leaving me with a bag of Moose Meat he headed off down the track.
There has been some wonderful help along the way. It’s not all that busy right now, in fact about 9 days the road has been closed so there was hardly any traffic at all.
I was slow.
And this day I was very tired and it cost me all my energy to push into Cache Creek where I was told there is a cabin.Not just a cabin! It was a wonderful well equipped home in the wilderness, including new friends. Dori, Jeremy, Denis and Phillipe on a Skidoo-trip.
There’s no amount of tiredness that can’t be fixed by a bottle of wine, so they argued, and kept pouring my glass full until it was after midnight and I really needed to get some shut-eye.
Or maybe the promise of a warm bed & a shower if and when I would make it to Dawson City.
I had to climb another rather large hill and by now the wind has truly turned against me, so a steady climb that wouldn’t mean much now became a struggle and a half. Just when I made it over the top it began to snow. And rather heavily too. I was happy I hadn’t seen any traffic, but just then a truck came up behind me. I moved out of the way and got myself bogged instantly. It has been warm and under the fresh snow the mud held on to my tires firmly. As it was colder now it froze and I was well and truly bogged. My luck had it I was only 500 meters from a road maintenance camp where I managed to wake up Steve who had been expecting my arrival.Apparently the truckers all speak about this mad woman on a bicycle so they all know where I am 🙂 My bike was clean in no time with their high pressure cleaner.
It seemed a clear sunny morning,
But don’t let that fool you!
and that was only 40km down the road with a tailwind.
Surely stopping in Dawson for a day (maybe two) wouldn’t harm me…
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