Canadian Arctic Winter Ride; Ice Roads and the Dempster Highway

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Northern Rob, Jan 10, 2009.

  1. Northern Rob

    Northern Rob Con Brio!

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    Let's stop and take a look at some of this ice and the cracks.

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    You can see all the way down.

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    Some of the cracks are tiny, some are motorbike tire sized, some are truck sized

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  2. thetourist

    thetourist Just passing thru

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    Good stuff. The ice pics are great. Somewhere, up there on a road, I was kicking the snow and I could see the gravel underneath. I was unable to tell if the ice was an inch or a foot thick.

    That river ice was really slippery. Not sure if the ice was more slick or because of the rough surface. At least one car, in our group, had a tire ripped off the rim, by a crack. Not sure of his speed, some rally folk were moving right along. :lol3

    Could you see the color difference, from river to ocean?
  3. Northern Rob

    Northern Rob Con Brio!

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    Tourist,

    I found the river ice to be slippier and clearer than the ocean ice. I had pretty good grip on the ocean ice. But the ocean ice had bigger cracks, heaves and buckles in it...

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    This is buckled up ocean ice.

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    To give you some sense of size, here's a shot of my buddy Benno getting a close up.

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    Also - well it isn't showing up in the picture very clearly - but the ocean ice had buckles in it that could send your vehicle airborne if you hit it too fast. We were going a bit too fast on the way back and hit one of these just around a curve and did a nice 360 with trailer down the road for a while. :eek1 Luckily nobody got hurt, but it sure did slow us down for the rest of the trip.
  4. Northern Rob

    Northern Rob Con Brio!

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    There were a few of these on the road, keeping it clear.

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    I saw a fox off to the side of the road.

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    About half an hour later, I saw another one.

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    He wasn't afraid of me. He took his time crossing the road - giving me a chance to pull out my camera.

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  5. Northern Rob

    Northern Rob Con Brio!

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    The little fella was smacking his lips, sniffing the air and moving with real purpose.

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    Off in the distance, I could see that there was something on the ice that he was aiming for. So I got off my bike to check it out.

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    Looks like sombody had a bad day.

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    Something had Moose sorbet for dinner and now the little critters were cleaning up the table scraps.
  6. Northern Rob

    Northern Rob Con Brio!

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    I didn't really expect to see wildlife out here, so that was a nice surprise.

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    The Ural was working flawlessly. I got that wind leak sealed around my glove and was nice and warm. This despite the fact that now that I was out on the sea ice, the temperature had dropped some more.

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    There was no getting around it, the range of the bike wasn't enough to avoid a mid trip fuel up.

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    Normally, I wouldn't mind the break, but at this temperature, its not a lot of fun handling cold steel with the big mitts off.

    One day, if I can find the time, I think I'll hook up some kind of auxiliary tank so I can go further without stopping.

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    We started the ride at -17, but now on the sea ice, it was -21. The bike and the suit were working fine at this temperature. I was comfortable. My only challenge was with the helmet which had iced up on the inside.
  7. Northern Rob

    Northern Rob Con Brio!

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    It's hard to see the white road from the white snow when the inside of your visor is iced over. :lol3 There's no way you're going to ride with the visor opened at -20. So I kept pulling over and scratching out a peek hole with my fingers.

    It wasn't until I was half way through the day's ride that I figured out a way to clear the ice off the frozen valves on the face mask. Then it worked great.

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    Wayne took advantage of the stop to stretch. We were originally going to goof around, lace up the skates and do some pickup hockey out here, but the cold was making us re-think how much fun that would actually be. Not fun enough.

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    So instead, Wayne did his famous Zorba dance for the ice gods

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    while I took in the show.

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    Onward!
  8. Northern Rob

    Northern Rob Con Brio!

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    This next bit is for Squonker and all the ice road truckers fans...

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  9. Northern Rob

    Northern Rob Con Brio!

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    This is how they do it on the sea ice.

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    Must be close to Santa's workshop or a nest or something. Saw several of these rigs hauling portable accomodation.
  10. Northern Rob

    Northern Rob Con Brio!

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    Speaking of ice road truckers...

    While I was riding, I was thinking about the shows I saw on TV about the ice roads and I was thinking "Is this really the same place I saw on TV?"

    I watched a bunch of the Ice Road Truckers shows before the trip, and when I came back, I eagerly awaited the release of "Jessie James Is a Dead Man's Arctic Bike Journey episode" which he shot on the same road a month or two before I came.

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    Here's the link to Jessie's ice roads show - you can watch it online for free
    http://www.spike.com/full-episode/arctic-bike-journey/32602

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    Here's a link to the Ice Road Trucker's series - you can watch some of that on-line for free too http://www.history.com/shows/ice-road-truckers

    I found the shows entertaining and enjoyed them, but I think they really overstated how difficult it is to ride these roads. I found the Dempster way easier to ride in the winter when the road is nice and frozen than in the summer when its filled with ruts and mud. And the ice road was a lot easier to ride than the Dempster. So where does that leave you with these hard core death defying stores? Many of you guys have already ridden the Dempster, so if you want to go, you just need to tweak your riding gear and have a strong backup plan in case kaka happens, and you're good to go. It's not technically challenging riding. It's about gear and sensible precautions when you're out in the remote cold.

    I realize that they're in the business of attracting eye balls and selling commercials, but when you see stuff like this...

    "
    Arctic Bike Journey


    From: Jesse James is a Dead Man
    July 14, 2009 - Jesse James attempts to do what no man has done before, ride a motorcycle 125 miles across Arctic ice, in the dead of winter to deliver medicine to a village cut off from civilization. "


    You've got to realize that it's entertainment and not real "National Geographic" or "60 Minutes" type journalism. So just take it with a grain of salt.

    Like the Jessie clip. First of all, several guys have done the ice road ride by motorbike before. One of them is "Justanotherrider" from ADV who's been doing it annually as a charity fundraiser for local schools. Secondy, this thing about Jessie needing to do this ride to get vital medicine to a guy in Tuk. Let's look at this for a second. Jessie had helicopters shooting his ice road ride for two days. Why not just drop the medicine off right away by helicopter? No point, because Tuk has a full service commercial airport and a medical centre, a military base (remember the Dew Line?) and an active oil and gas business community. It's a real community. I think it ticked off the locals that they were positioned like a bunch of primitive aboriginals. I know it would have ticked me off if I lived there.

    So all I'm saying is, treat reality entertainment shows for what they are, there's a bit of reality in there, but a lot of it (most of it?) is just a made up story to keep your eyeballs glued to the TV.


    Now, here on the other hand, is what I call a TRUE adventurer.

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    This is a fellow Merven Gruben found on the ice road. His name is Mauricio and he's from Italy. He was bicycling the ice road and sleeping in a tent on the side of the road. It was -27, and the night before the low hit -32.

    Now there's the real freakin deal!

    Thanks for the pic Merven.
  11. MTrider16

    MTrider16 Ridin' in MT

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    Yes, that was kinda my thought about the Haul Road to Deadhorse.

    Glad to see your still writing on this report.

    David
  12. IRideASlowBike

    IRideASlowBike Banned

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    Holy shit. :thumbup

    I wonder what kind of equipment he uses to camp out in those temperatures... :eek1
  13. Ze Red Baron

    Ze Red Baron Adventure seeker

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    He is probably using the same -40 sleeping bag used by the loonies climbing K2 and Everest. A brave soul indeed:eek1 :huh :D

    Absolutely fantastic report Rob and I've thoroughly enjoyed every page and post. Keep it going:clap

    Gero
  14. Northern Rob

    Northern Rob Con Brio!

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    Thanks very much everyone. It's great to know people are still hanging in and enjoying the pics. Yes, I will finish this thread. Actually, we're almost done.

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    The final push to Tuk

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    I like this shot. Wayne took this while driving next to me, which was a bit stressful, but he captured the car and the trailer in the mirror which I thought was a neat effect.

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    We drove past some big Pingos. You only see these hill formations in the arctic as they need permafrost to grow. They grow about 2 cm a year as groundwater under the formation freezes and pushes up the soil. I think of them as upside down frozen lakes , but that's not really accurate.

    They do a better job of explaining them here.
    >> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pingo

    The Tuktoyaktuk area is famous for having one of the highest concentration of Pingos in the world. They've got over 1300 of them, and some of them are massive.
  15. Northern Rob

    Northern Rob Con Brio!

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    Entering the Village of Tuktoyaktuk.
  16. izom

    izom Been here awhile

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    ...GREAT !!:clap tuk the top of the world :D

    -i like jesse james but in this tv series there are so many stupid comments (or is the translation in german bad- i dont know) :puke1
    - sometimes makes me laugh or sick- dont know....:wink:

    -like- "jesse has a custom racing exhaust on hes bmw so he is faster then...." !?:lol3
  17. IRideASlowBike

    IRideASlowBike Banned

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    I wanna do this too... :huh
  18. BOOGIEMAN

    BOOGIEMAN Been here awhile

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    I HAVE BEEN GLUED TO THIS REPORT FOR THE PAST WEEK. READ A COUPLE OF PAGES A NIGHT. A GREAT ADVENTURE INDEED. AFTER HAVIBG TWO BOUTS WITH THE BIG C , I TOO HAVE DECIDED THAT NOW IS THE TIME TO ENJOY LIFE MORE AND WORK LESS.
    THANKS FOR THE GOOD READ.:clap
  19. Northern Rob

    Northern Rob Con Brio!

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    Thanks Boogieman, if this thread had any motivational impact on your decision to "enjoy life more" now, then I consider it all worthwhile.

    Con Brio!

    Rob
  20. Northern Rob

    Northern Rob Con Brio!

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