Last year, four cyclists made the journey from Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk at the start of summer.
Now, the Inuvik Cycling Club is turning the trip into a full-blown time trial.
Cycling club president Chris Bruckner told Inuvik Drum the plan is to shuttle down to Tuktoyaktuk at 7:30 in the morning June 19, with hopes of reaching the Arctic Ocean sign in Tuktoyaktuk by 9:30. From there, the cyclists will set out at 10 a.m. sharp and make their way south across the Inuvik-Tuktoyaktuk Highway for the 156 kilometre ride back to Inuvik.
So far, eight brave souls have signed up for the ride.
Having done the trip last year, Bruckner said he’s learned some valuable lessons and adjusted the plan this year accordingly. To make the event more accessible, a relay option has been added, allowing for teams to complete the full ride collectively. He’s also pushing the date a bit later into the year.
”We had nice weather leading up to the day,” said Bruckner. “June 13 was kind of an anomaly. It was like around zero and got up to five degrees and was kind of drizzly.
“This year, we’re hoping for for really nice weather. So that’s why we picked the events sort of around the solstice to kind of give us that nice Goldilocks zone.”
With the ride wrapping up across from the Western Arctic Visitors Centre, Bruckner has an added incentive for would-be riders: at the end of the ride he’s hosting a barbecue celebration for all involved.
Biking from Tuktoyaktuk to Inuvik can be a time consuming process. Bruckner said he expects to complete the ride in five to six hours, but noted for some it could take as long as 10 or 11 depending on the state of their bike and their fitness levels. But he said he would keep the barbecue fired up for everyone, no matter how long they take.
“It could go all night,” he said.
Helmets are mandatory and proper tires are highly recommended.
Bruckner noted riders should be prepared to do a lot of uphill as well. In fact, he said the ride involves an excess of 1300 metres of climbing.
“It’s gravel road and it tends to be really soupy on the Tuk side,” he said. “Especially if you don’t have wider tires, you really get sucked down and you start to sink, which obviously takes a toll on your your energy expenditure for the day.”
If getting from the Arctic coast to the south side of Inuvik on a bike alive isn’t a challenge enough for riders, Bruckner added there is also a running competition on who can make the best time on the trip.
A mobile phone app called Strava tracks best times between locations all around the world, including on the ITH. Cyclists can download the app, turn it on and track their time as they make the trip.
So far, Bruckner is the world champion in the time trial, with a July 25, 2020 time of five hours, 11 minutes and 10 seconds at an average speed of 27.9 kilometres an hour.
Noting he still needed volunteers to run support vehicles, Bruckner said anyone who wanted to get involved either as a participant or volunteer should email him at email@example.com or reach out to him on social media.
He also said anyone who needs help preparing for the ride should reach out to ensure they’ve got everything they need, since even in the summer the weather in the Arctic can be unpredictable.
“We’re hoping for you know, ideally a nice tail wind, 20 degrees and sunny but you never know what you’re gonna get out here.”