Mission

We did it! We reached the Arctic Ocean monday, August 27th after more than 3200 miles and 8 weeks of cycling. The last day has been challenging since the temperature was -6 degrees when we woke up and -4 when we started cycling.

The next days have been a bit more hectic. Since the shuttle which was supposed to bring us back to Fairbanks never came and since we didn’t want to fly back, we hitchhiked for two days before getting a ride from a truck driver on the 29th, at 7PM. The trip lasted 18 hours, during which we slept 5. We arrived in Fairbanks today, exhausted but very happy.

We’ll now take a rest day before heading towards Anchorage on September 1st.

We’ll give you more detailed news ASAP.

Jean and Nicolas.

Cercle

Hello,

Jean and Nicolas are now at the north of the polar circle. They spend the night from wednesday to thursday just sleeping on it. Today or tomorrow they should go by the Atigun pass (1415 m/4643 ft) and consequently have some nice rises to climb… But they seem to have a beautiful weather and the landscape are much wonderful than they expected. If they keep their rythm they should be in Prudhoe Bay by Sunday or Monday, before coming back to Fairbanks by hitchhiking. And they might not have any access to internet before beeing again at Fairbanks.

Here you can have an idea of their way from Fairbanks to Prudhoe Bay. The Atigun pass is (I suppose) where there is this “little” moutains chain quite white. (you can double click on the map to be “closer”)

To see a bigger map

Besides, once in Fairbanks they had the opportunity to weigh their cycles. So, considering they had all their equipment plus food for twelve days, what was the weight of Nicolas’s one. I have no idea myself and Nicolas has not determined yet what will win the one who’ll have the good answer (or at least will be the closest of the right weight), but do not hesitate to suggest your answer in the comments.

And at Last, because they won’t have internet before many days, I added myself three new drawings.

Chanda - Ecole enfant soleil

Elena - Ecole Stanislas

David - Ecole enfant soleil

Vous

Here are some answers to the questions asked by the chlidren of the schools. (And all these questions are available here.)

Where will you put your spare wheel?
We each have a foldable tire and a few spare spokes. Luckily, we haven’t had to use any of them so far.

How many clothes will you take with you?
We just bought some very warm clothes in case of arctic temperatures in Prudhoe Bay. All in all, we have approximately 5 tops, 2 pairs of pants and 4 pairs of underwear each.

How are you going to wash your clothes?
We use a multi-purpose cleaner and a foldable basin (see here).

What will you do if you meet a grizzly?
Well, what DID we do when we saw a grizzly? We stopped as soon as we saw it. Then, while walking back slowly and keeping an eye on it (but without looking at it in the eyes), we identified us as humans by calmly speaking and waving our hands. If it adopts an aggressive behaviour and there is an imminent assault, we each carry a bear spray to deter it.

How do the people help tackling climate change ?
Even if lots of people are aware of climate change, few actually do something about it and change their way of life.

How has the way of life of first Nations changed ?
The way of life of First Nations has deeply changed recently, independently of climate change. However, the most obvious effect of global warming on their way of life is the change of migratory routes which leads, as a consequence, to the disappearance of some settlements (see Climate Change post).

Changement

One of the aspects of this trip is to talk to people we meet on the way about their perception of climate change and the way it has changed their way of life. This summary of what we gathered so far is not scientific. First of all, Fairbanks experienced its warmest January and coldest February since the 20’s and there was still a lot of snow in late may (25 feet at sea level and 100 feet on the tops).

One of the consequences is the fact that bears became active late and are stillactively looking for food at this time of year, which is very unusual. That is the reason why people travelling in bear country (us, for example!) have to be particularly careful. Another consequence is the change of migratory routes: cariboos and salmons are the most obvious examples. This has a very strong impact on first nations settlements: they have been living for hundreds of years at locations where harvesting and hunting were possible. The fact that some species changed their migratory routes means they will have to move. Ice melting is one of the most known impact of climate change. Alaskan and Canadian polar bears strongly suffer from it. They eat mainly seals which live on ice. As ice is melting, bears have to swim longer distances before ice and therefore seals. Most of them die from starvation or exhaustion. What is less known suffer from the same symptoms. They hunt seals during winter using snowmobiles. They can’t travel anymore to their hunting spots as there is no ice and, once again, this means several first nations settlements will disappear.

Another impact of climate change is pine beetle disease. Pine beetles have been living in British Columbia for several years but larva used to die during cold winters. It’s not the case anymore with mild temperatures and, therefore, the pine beetle population is growing rapidly. They eat trees (a tree dies within 5 years once attacked) and we saw massive areas of forest destroyed when cycling across British Columbia.

We experienced the following records:

– the worst flooding in Vanderhoof of the last 30 years

– the most important rainfall since 1974 in Whitehorse.

Regarding general behaviors, we have been struck by the proportion of 4-wheel drive, pick-ups and, more surprisingly, massive personal buses (generally pulling a 4-wheel drive) on the road. However, we have also been impressed by the refund given to you when you bring bottles back: this is an old idea worth putting back in place in Europe.

Tip of the day: as already mentioned, Alayna gave us a wallet made out of fruit juice bottles: it is water-proof and very handy. Give a thought about it.

En

7/8: Whitehorse- Summer Camp on the Klondike, 65miles

All you can eat breakfast and we leave Whitehorse around noon. We have to cycle the Klondike highway first before reaching Dawson city and the beginning of the Top of the world highway. The Klondike highway is very very dull. We do not have very good legs, the landscapes are boring and there is no paved shoulder so we are overtaken by vehicles very closely. To add to this great menu, the rain joins the party…. we understand the way to Dawson city will be tough and as we say in French, we have the mood in the socks…..

We stop at the end of the day in an empty summer camp: that is brilliant spot and we play looking for an open boothy, welcome back 20 years earlier for imaginative manhunt!!! We are like children, we enjoy a good campfire, eat pasta and hop, we jump in the sleeping bags. Looking forward to cycling tomorrow…

8/8: Summer camp – Tetcha Creek, 65 miles km

Same day than the previous one: it is hilly, it is boring and still no legs… We stop in Carmacks “the dark one” as we call it, we strongly recommend the petrol station for a face to face dinner with the one you love…..

We finally reach the campsite, quick dinner and again, hop we are in our sleeping bags quicker than needed to blink. Ambience, ambience….

— Jean

9/8: Tetcha Creek – Stewart Crossing, 95 miles

We ride the first 50 miles like rockets before stopping for lunch. We think the rest of the day will be easy and… it is not exactly the case. We start with 2 miles uphill on gravel road in the mud: it is hard, very hard. Then, we have a good headwind and more hills, we fly at 7 miles/hour!!! If we keep cycling like that, we will be at the campsite at 11 pm. Nicolas decided then to take the lead and pulls me to the campsite where we arrive at 8 pm. There is a small restaurant: we are absolutely starving. I order a burger and I have 2 desserts and I am still starving!!! Nicolas who does not know how to put a spandex correctly has the bottom absolutely destroyed. Once again, tommorow is expected. — Jean

10/8: Stewart Crossing – Klondike River Lodge (Dempster Highway junction), 85 miles

As previously, it is boring. Wee excitement when we cross the junction of the Dempster highway which is the only alternative to the Arctic ocean compared to the way we will cycle from Fairbanks. Tomorrow, we will be in Dawson City, at last! — Jean

11/8: Klondike River Lodge – Dawson City, 25miles

Surprise when we wake up, it is minus 2 celsius in the middle of August!!! All the stuffs which stayed outside for the night are frozen. Nicolas fell in a very artistical way when trying to reach the toilets on the top of wooden stairs. We enjoy our first shower in a week (you do not know how we miss them when you can’t walk 5 meters from your bedroom anymore before having hot water!!!!) Before leaving, we see a couple from Vancouver Island we already saw on the cassiar Highway: they are just back from the Dempster highway and they tell us there has been a poalr bear sighting several days ago there, exactly what we needed to hear.
Copyright : http://nnsl.com/northern-news-services/stories/papers/aug13_07bear.html
But the authorities gave it a lift by helicopter and dropped it back into the ocean.

The 25 miles to Dawson are done very quickly and this town is a revelation: old houses western style, dust street and a great ambience. The spud (good mood) is back!!! We decide we will enjoy this town a little bit and we will only leave tomorrow afternoon. I enjoy a cariboo stew and Nicolas tries the salmon for the first time of this trip (I swallowed my stew so fast that the waiter embarrassed asks me if I want a second main meal. I only take a dessert, but once again, I am starving!!!!) We clean the bikes and go to bed.
— Jean

12/8: Dawson City – Clinton Road, 30miles

Slow motion morning and we leave at 3 pm. We cross the Yukon river on a ferry and we start the Top of the World highway: will it justify all the boring days spent on the Klondike highway? From the start, it is tough: 10 miles uphill on the gravel road, but we then reach the ridge and we enjoy an amazing ride with a great view on the valleys around. While I am reaching the top of a pass, I suddenly stop: there is a grizzly bear walking on the side of the road. Nicolas stops with me and we identify ourselves as humans, following the procedure: waving our arms, speaking not too loud and walking backwards. But the bear keeps walking in our direction looking at us persistently. A motorcyclist comes from nowhere and we ask for his help: he decides to scare the grizzly. As soon as he starts his engine on, the bear stands up and looks at us. Then the motorcyclist rides in its direction and beeps: the bear once again stands up and walks into the bushes, but it is actually to walk around the biker and it keeps walking towards us. We therefore ask the motorcyclist to come back what he does. We decide to ride all together next to the bear. When we do it, the bear stands up a last time still looking at us. We will be more careful now: that was our first encounter with a grizzly bear. We decide to keep cycling to avoid the presence of this bear (not too big to be honnest but still scary). We stop 10 miles later and set up the tent.– Jean

13/8: Clinton Road – first campsite after the border, 55 miles

There is a good shower during the night but no bear around. However, when we wake up, there is fog all around us. Wwe can’t see further than 50 meters away. When we finally start cycling, the fog slowly disappears. But the road is steep and as we approach the border, the wind comes and the rain decides to join all this gang! As we are on the ridge, we are not protected from the wind and we struggle to keep our bikes on the road: that is really tough. At last, we reach the border and we discover customs in a small hut in the middle of nowhere: this is the northest US-Canada border on land. We are so wet we ask to the customs to stay in their hut for lunch, what we do. We even have the right to use their toilets. The stamp they put on our passport is absolutely great: it is a cariboo!!! After a stop on a bar (the only house in town actually) in Bounday, we reach the campsite where our grizzly encounter story has soon reached every ear and hop, we are the heroes of the area, telling our story like old sailors. Anyway, we are in Alaska, we did it, we cycled all the way from Vancouver! There is still some way to cycle but we are already very proud of what we achieved so far.

Alaska,

Jean et Nicolas are now in Alaska since Wednesday (or tuesday, I’m not sure). They plan to be at Fairbanks tomorrow evening. They also saw their first grizzli. The good news is that they seem to be still alive, even if I don’t have the details about this meeting.
To celebrate all this news I added two new drawings.
And if you wish to have a better envisionning of their way from Vancouver to Whitehorse (I don’t have yet the details of their more recent adventures) you can do it here. By clicking on the yardsticks you can read the french version of their journal (sorry, I didn’t have time to do the english one yet) and see some photos related to the place.


Histoires

We thought that was useful to write a post on the bears to present you the kind of stories we heard and what happened when we met some.
It has been pretty hard for us to have an opinion on the real danger that bear can be. Some people will talk about htem like ferocious beasts able to eat all what they find and some other will explain to you that they are only cute little furry animals… It is also very hard to get any figure about the real number of accidents every year.
We had some very interesting discussion with people knowing waht they were talking about.
The first one, which is mentionned in the blog during hte first week of the trip has been with Trent who hunted bears for more htan 20 years. Basically, he was saying that the main risk is if you are between a mum and a cub and if the cub starts to cry, then you are in big trouble. For all the other situation, tehre is no risk as bears are more afraid of us than we can imagine.
Then, Nicolas had an interesting discussion with a couple from Fairbanks, Alaska we met in Jasper. They explained the only risk is with grizzlies and you are in trouble if you meet a grumpy one with bad teeth. if it is the case, there is nothing you can do except avoiding it as much as you can and if it attacks, you need to hit back.
The German couple we met in Kitwanga told us one of their friends was hiking with his partner when he stopped for lunch (a sandwich in a plastic box). A grizzly came from nowhere, attacked him and badly injured him. Impossible to know if grumpiness and bad teeth were the explanation.

We met 7 black bears so far. There has been 2 types of reactions: -the bear escapes as fast as it can, being obviously very scared to see these two weird animals pedalling on funny machines…
-the bear looks at us and keeps doing what it was achieving. in most cases, he is eating a branch or just having a seat on a hill and looking around.
we did not meet any grizzly so far (we are not particularly in a hurry to see one). people told us it is likely we will see some on the gravel road going to the Arctic ocean. We will see and let you know.

Dawson

Hi everyone,

Just a small post to tell you that we are in Dawson City, after 4 days on a boring road whose only interest was to lead us north. We saw the vegetation changing and it was -2 degrees this morning when we woke up. I even broke a peg of my tent just by stepping on it.

This afternoon will be spent in museums, saloons and walking on dusty streets till dusk, which is about midnight. We’ll discover the Top of the World Highway tomorrow, maybe even reaching the Yukon – Alaska border. — Nicolas

Encore

Hi everyone,

As said elsewhere, Jean et Nicolas overestimated the time available when taking a rest day. As a consequence, they posted fewer drawings than expected and wished. They’ll do everything to change that matter of fact but, given the regions will cross in the near future, they can’t promise you anything. They hope you will understand.

The drawings can be found in the Drawings subsection of the Photos section. They added some on their last connection and I added two today.

mumu

Nouvelles

Pictures of weeks 4 and 5 are available in the Photos section. New videos are also available on our Google Video page.