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Thread: Ice Road Biking

  1. #1
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    Ice Road Biking

    Hi all,
    I am new to the forums but joined up for one reason in particular. I've been planning a trip to bike from Inuvik, Northwest Territories (Canada) to Tuktoyaktuk, NT (Canada) in mid April on the ice road that is made on the Mackenzie River and Arctic Ocean. Winter biking is new to me but I do bike a lot in the summer. I've had a few friends do this trip but multi-days. I'm looking at doing completing it in one day and it will be a hard day at that.
    The distance is roughly 185 km all on ice. The dangers if any would be some wildlife, vehicles and of course the intensity of an arctic winter where the temps can get to -30 degrees at that time of year.
    This post is for anyone who would be interested in biking it with me and a co-worker or else share information or ideas of what I need to do to prepare for such a trek.

    Thanks and I'll keep this thread updated.
    Last edited by GwichinAthlete; 03-22-10 at 03:06 PM. Reason: didn't finish.

  2. #2
    Senior Member mudpuppy's Avatar
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    I don't know what road conditions you might encounter, but here's something to keep in mind: Solid ice is great to bike with studs; just as good as pavement. Put a small amount of snow on top, as little as 1/4" - 1/2", and your speed is drastically reduced. 185 km. with clean ice and favorable winds could be very doable in a day. With 1/4" of snow on the road, it could be a nightmare. Good luck!

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    Single-serving poster electrik's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GwichinAthlete View Post
    Hi all,
    I am new to the forums but joined up for one reason in particular. I've been planning a trip to bike from Inuvik, Northwest Territories (Canada) to Tuktoyaktuk, NT (Canada) in mid April on the ice road that is made on the Mackenzie River and Arctic Ocean. Winter biking is new to me but I do bike a lot in the summer. I've had a few friends do this trip but multi-days. I'm looking at doing completing it in one day and it will be a hard day at that.
    The distance is roughly 185 km all on ice. The dangers if any would be some wildlife, vehicles and of course the intensity of an arctic winter where the temps can get to -30 degrees at that time of year.
    This post is for anyone who would be interested in biking it with me and a co-worker or else share information or ideas of what I need to do to prepare for such a trek.

    Thanks and I'll keep this thread updated.
    You better be very sure what the conditions are, things are thawing out very early and spending weeks stuck in slush waiting for rescue might be ok in a truck cab... but i doubt you'd make it alone with only a bicycle's worth of supplies. You make it even more risky by travelling light and getting bogged down in melt.

    http://news.globaltv.com/story.html?id=2707415

    185k is a lot for a single day winter ride, if you encouter winds or snow drifts you'll be further delayed.
    Last edited by electrik; 03-22-10 at 07:27 PM.

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    Senior Member coldfeet's Avatar
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    <blink>

    Gotta give you points for nerve, let us know how it goes.

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    Thanks for the information and concern. I've talked with a good friend who is also a Canadian Ranger and who has done the bike trip. The ice road conditions should be fine at that time as it usually closes near the end of April. I believe we should be fine for April 17th when we are looking to do the trek. It will be the same time as Tuk's community jamboree so there will be a bit of traffic so lots of assistance if we need. We'll also have two vehicle supports with food and warm clothes as well a place to stay warm! If it doesn't go as planned, we may do it over a span of two days.

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    Single-serving poster electrik's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GwichinAthlete View Post
    Thanks for the information and concern. I've talked with a good friend who is also a Canadian Ranger and who has done the bike trip. The ice road conditions should be fine at that time as it usually closes near the end of April. I believe we should be fine for April 17th when we are looking to do the trek. It will be the same time as Tuk's community jamboree so there will be a bit of traffic so lots of assistance if we need. We'll also have two vehicle supports with food and warm clothes as well a place to stay warm! If it doesn't go as planned, we may do it over a span of two days.
    Try and get some pics!

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    Formerly Known as Newbie Juha's Avatar
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    Because of the two support vehicles, I don't think there are major hazards involved. Assuming of course you have some experience in winter biking or exercise at all (meaning "proper" winter, temps of -15C and below). You won't be hauling lots of stuff on bike, and you have a warm shelter in case of mechanical failure or bonking. The support vehicles also increase your visibility to other traffic. If you can, try to avoid excessive sweating, although this too is less critical as you have support. Wear wool close to skin, and something windproof (not waterproof) on top. I've found a Buff wool neck tube is a very versatile piece of gear when xc skiing for example. What's your plan regarding footwear and clipless pedals?

    How long is the day by then? Despite of support I would definitely want to have lights on bike too, reflecting vests etc. Wind will play a major role in determining your average speed, do you have any idea of prevailing wind direction in relation to your route? Make sure you have at least one warm meal in support vehicles. Eating hot soup in the middle of a cold exercise provides not just fuel but a boost to morale too.

    Go for it, and please bring pics!

    --J
    Last edited by Juha; 03-24-10 at 07:30 AM.
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  8. #8
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    I will be definitely posting photos as well as our experience on the ice road. The current idea is to go from Inuvik to Tuk so that near the end we get a good view of us heading onto the Arctic Ocean and the thrill of biking the Mackenzie all the way up to the Ocean.

  9. #9
    In the wind mercator's Avatar
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    Sounds like a great trip idea.
    I second the hot soup recommendation.
    Hopefully the wind will be favorable.
    Have fun!

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    Senior Member scoatw's Avatar
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    For clothing tips, general prepardness. Try this link for some advice. http://www.alaskaultrasport.com/alas...home_page.html

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    Senior member Dan Burkhart's Avatar
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    I spent one season trucking the Tibbit to Contwoyto ice road in the NWT. I found myself often wishing I'd brought a bike with me just to be able to say I'd done it.
    Every night, between 2 and 3 am, there was a guy who rode his bike down the Ingram trail into Yellowknife. It didn't matter how cold it got, he'd be out there without fail.
    I know, I know. Without pictures, it didn't happen. OK.
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    Update -- the weather this past weekend and this week has been exeptionally warm for this time of year. As a result, the ice road has been put on alert for shutdown. Reports from locals are saying it has been pretty slushy which will make the trip even more challenging. However with the nice weather, i was able to run my first half marathon of the year.
    We'll see how this weather turns out over this week and the bike trip could be a last minute decision whether to take it on or not. I have some friends driving it on Thursday so will get a better sense of how it is.

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