Riding in the Arctic Circle
It's been 1yr and a few weeks since I relocated to 68 degrees North. Unless you are very familiar with degrees of latitude, let me just say, I'm 160km south of the Arctic Ocean, and 200km North of the Arctic Circle.
At first, the idea of riding a bike this far North sounded really exciting. When we flew in to the town of Inuvik, there were fresh water lakes for a far as the eye could see. I wondered how I could possibly ride anywhere, when one lake was sometimes mere meters from the next lake. But as we descended, you could see the layout of the town's roads. There aren't many of them, but there are a few, and we have only one traffic light. The more I got out to explore, the more I realized there are some very clear dangers up here if you're going to go out riding.
Getting lost is a very real thing here. Unless you're just staying close to the town and know your way back, it can be easy to get lost. If you venture 20km North of the town, you get above the tree line, and there is really nothing to use as a marker to navigate with. Over time, you obviously get a feel for the land. The Inuvialuit and Gwich'in have lived up here for thousands of years, and can read the land like the back of their hand. Me, not quite.
The landscape is surreal. It's incredibly diverse and varied, and exceptionally beautiful. That landscape can also kill you. Winter is colder than most people have experienced, and with the open land, the wind gets really bad. And not to mention the animals. Bears, wolves, lynx, and lots of other things to be on the lookout for.
I've ventured out quite a bit recently, exploring where I felt comfortable. There is a beautiful path circling a small lake just in town. It's called Boot Lake, with a gravel trail that goes half way around and then a wooden boardwalk for the other half. The boardwalk is my single most favourite part of this town. I've run that length so many times on repeat and ripping along it on a bike is just as fun.
In the summer here, it gets hotter than you'd think. It hit 30 degrees Celsius some days. My cycling attire is the same tried and tested stuff I've lived in around the world and it hasn't failed me here. The merino wool does the best job at regulating your body heat having worn it in +40C to -40C degree weather now. I never leave the house without the layering for those really cold days. This coming winter will be a first for me with my own bike here. Really excited to head out on the ice roads once the rivers freeze over.
If you want an adventure unlike anything you've ever done before, think about visiting Canada's real true North. Consider coming up to Inuvik and the Northwest Territories!