Into the Dark, Part II

It’s nearing the end of November and in a week I will once again be attempting to ride my bike to Tuktoyaktuk, this time a little wiser and with some small but important equipment changes…

One of the main problems derailing my ride last winter was frostbite on my toes. The extra thick socks and the felt insole I added made the boots a bit too snug and the resulting numbness hid frostbite that was developing. I decided to change from my hiking boots to a hefty pair of mountaineering boots, good for the cold temps and large enough to give my feet breathing room.  Unfortunately, getting size 49 boots was a challenge as no one in North America seemed to have any on hand.

Frostbite in Whitehorse

Mountaineering boots

Puss and boots

Despite the frostbite on my toes, it was actually the cold in my hands that posed the biggest ongoing challenge last winter. Theoretically, I was aware that my body would divert blood away from my extremities in an attempt to keep my core warm, but experiencing it was an eye opener. I was constantly frustrated at how long my hands would take to warm back up, after stopping on my bike for only a brief time.

The winds also added an extra bite.  For instance, the day I rode into Rancheria, I found my hands virtually useless when trying to eat something in gale force winds.  I would eat a portion of food, then jump up and down or run around, then take another bite, and repeat this until I had enough to stave off the hunger. As soon as I was done, I’d jump back on the bike and get going again. The problem was not so much a matter of equipment, as I have a number of mitts and gloves, but more about how I transitioned from bike to rest. For this trip I will use handle bar mitts, so that my hands will be protected from the winds and I can use lighter gloves while riding and avoid heating up and getting sweaty. When my hands are cold they will be inside the mitts, and when they are warm I can take them out, without having to stop.

I’ll test out a USB charger that replaces the top cap and is linked to the dynamo hub through the steer tube. A few other changes include a new -40 rated down sleeping bag (again difficult to find a long size)…

trying out the new sleeping bag

and a new rear rim.

Broken Rim

Broken Rim

New back rim

New back rim – said to be ‘bomb proof’

So, with all my equipment packed back up, I’ll be heading out on December 2nd. I will ride up Vancouver Island to Port Hardy and then take the ferries to Prince Rupert, Juneau and Skagway. From there I will bike over the infamous White Pass toward Whitehorse and pick back up where I left off last year in Jake’s Corner.

The staff at Cap’s Bicycle Shop in New Westminster will be joining me on the first two days. As well, anyone who would like to join in on any portion of the trip as we ride from Vancouver to the Tsawwassen Ferry and then from Victoria to Nanaimo, (with a hotel stay in Duncan), is invited to come along for the ride.

We are meeting on Sunday, December 2nd, at the Market Crossing Starbucks (Market Crossing & Marine Way, Burnaby) at 9:30am, to make the 1:00 ferry to Victoria.

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12 thoughts on “Into the Dark, Part II

  1. I hope the modifications are the missing puzzle pieces needed to complete your journey. I will enjoy following you to the end through your blog. Good Luck Brek !

  2. Enjoyed your talk tonight at the Burnaby Hub meeting. Hope you have an incredible and successful journey. I’m looking forward to following it.

  3. Thank you for this superdose of energy again! Such a treat to get to follow your adventure and be there with you on a level. I believe you will have the ride of your life! I rejoice over the space all this creates for you. Thank you giving this time to yourself – which is truly a gift to all.
    Love, Kirsti

  4. Glad to hear you are “back in the saddle”. I rode to Inuvik along the very route you are taking this year. It was summer and many of the issues you will face did not affect us. I wish you all the best – there are going to many challenges along the way – stay safe, stay warm and GOOD LUCK!!!!!

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