Canadian Cycling Magazine

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

- 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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