This short essay sent in by Iohan Gueorguiev is the 3rd of 5 finalists picked for Road Holland's Cycling Shorts Essay Contest. All finalists and the grand prize winner will receive some incredible cycling gear! Enjoy.
“Best April fool’s ever,” I thought as rode onto the ice road from Tuktoyaktuk. On April first I flew from Toronto to The Yukon and hitchhiked with my bike for the last 1500 kilometers. There was no dipping of the wheels in the ocean, which is a good thing considering the road is on it for the first 40 kilometers and then another 380 on top of frozen rivers.
The ice highway, an extension of The Dempster, is built each winter to provide access to two remote villages in the Canadian Arctic. The goal today was to ride about 140km to the old reindeer herding station and take shelter in one of the abandoned buildings there.
Two large cracks ran alongside the road crisscrossing it and I had to go over them constantly. Falls were frequent even with the studded tires and each one was more painful than the previous. Almost all of the cars and trucks that passed stopped to offer me a ride, food or water. As the forecasted light snow and wind turned into a storm, I was lost in the white abyss with only the blue road to guide me. The wind became stronger and visibility worse. I wore all the clothes I had.
At 7pm, a highway maintenance pulled over:
“Are you okay? Do you need a ride?”
“How far is Reindeer station?” this was my only option for sleeping tonight. He pointed out the frostbite on my cheek, a small spot I left uncovered by a mistake.
“Its 45km. So that’s 6 hours for you.”
“I go faster than that.”
“Not with what you got coming ahead of you.”
Snowbanks. The whole road was snowed in. Luckily, there are some clear spots and I can get enough speed to pass the banks, my thin tires slice the fresh snow but every time I come out of a bank, I fall. Took a while to get a hang of it. It’s getting dark now and I still have no idea how far Reindeer station is.
All of a sudden a truck comes up behind me.
“Where do you come from?”
“Ontario but I’m going to Argentina”
“On a bike?”
“Oh man I love you!”
I ask if Jerry has some water and hop in his cab to chat for a bit. I am desperately scrubbing the ice from my goggles, as my breath froze on them earlier making it impossible to see and removing them was not an option. He told me that there are actual cabins at the Reindeer station and one is kept open for emergency, it would be okay to use it. I look at the time, it's 10:30pm.
We say our goodbyes and I ride on. The storm is subsiding and the moonlight is peeking through the clouds. At midnight I make out the clearing which would be the station. I wade through the deep snow and twist the door of the first cabin.
Comments will be approved before showing up.