Lessons from a Subarc­tic Fat Bike Ex­pe­di­tion

From At­tawapiskat First Na­tion to Moosonee along James Bay’s coast, and then south dur­ing the cold of win­ter

Canadian Cycling Magazine - - CONTENTS - by Buck Miller

Four rid­ers with a range of abil­i­ties rode on the coast of the bay. They learned about the land, the peo­ple and just what they were ca­pa­ble of.

In early Fe­bru­ary 2019, Ted King, Eric Batty, Ryan Atkins and I – all for­mer road and moun­tain bike rac­ers – took on the James Bay De­scent (JBD): an un­sup­ported, 640-km, nine-day win­ter fat bike ex­pe­di­tion from At­tawapiskat First Na­tion to Moosonee along the bay’s coast, and then south to Smooth Rock Falls, Ont. One goal was to pedal to Akimiski Is­land, which lies 20 km from the main­land and is part of Nu­navut. We’d make the first ride from On­tario to the Nu­navut Ter­ri­tory on fat bikes.

The over­all goal was to raise $5,000 for the Moosonee of­fice of the Tim­mins Na­tive Friend­ship Cen­tre. Within the team, we had a long list of ac­com­plish­ments in sport and ad­ven­ture, in­clud­ing moun­taineer­ing, world cham­pi­onships, ul­tra­run­ning and even the Tour de France. This ex­pe­di­tion, how­ever, taught each of us some­thing new. In hind­sight, we should have seen some of th­ese lessons com­ing, but oth­ers were much less ob­vi­ous. If you are plan­ning an ex­pe­di­tion as tough at the James Bay De­scent or even some­thing a lit­tle less ar­du­ous, and I hope you are, take a look at the fol­low­ing bits of wis­dom from the trail.

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