Fatbike to the Arctic
This winter Kim and I are attempting our most ambitious winter fatbike trip to date. ‘Fatbike to the Arctic’ is what we have deemed our proposed route, which will start in Knik Alaska and follow the Historic Iditarod Trail to the village of Koyuk. From Koyuk we will veer off the Iditarod Trail and head north across the Seward Peninsula, into the arctic. Kotzebue will be our goal but we are keeping the door open to continuing on to Point Hope.
We have a few new concepts that we will be employing on this trip. Firstly, will be trying a modified philosophy regarding winter bicycle expeditions. We will leave with a goal and try to not let the clock or calendar be a determining factor. 'As long as it takes', will be our motto. That said, premature break-up and early spring melt could stop us early. Beyond having food sent ahead to village destinations we will also leave food boxes with friends to send to us, if we require more time on the trail.
Another novel improvement will be to employ a Titanium Goat wood stove in our floor-less shelter. The ability to dry gear, make water and food, and get good rest will be vastly improved with this simple and practical piece of equipment.
Lightweight snowshoes and packable, custom sleds will also be carried in the event that the conditions deteriorate.
Weight is always a huge factor when designing equipment for winter cycling expeditions. We are indeed adding weight but we have also lost weight in other areas. We will both be riding titanium fatbikes made by Carver. The wood stove and stovepipe is sub-one pound and we have negated the need to carry conventional fuel stove. Beyond these items we have also replaced much of our clothing and camping gear with lighter and warmer options. I believe that even with the extra weight of snowshoes and sleds we will be overall lighter than previous winter trips without the sledding option.
We plan to be well down the trail when the Iditarod Sled Dog Race happens in early March. We want to document the dogs and mushers and plan to include footage into our black and white documentary we plan to make about the expedition.
The focus of the documentary will be both about how-to winter fatbike in a self reliant way and a homage to the earliest winter cyclists of the late 19th century. The men who biked from Dawson to Nome set the stage for this kind of adventure and over 100 years later the tradition continues, here in Alaska. The æsthetic of the film plans to be in the style of the early ethnographic documentaries by Edward Curtus and Robert Flaherty, two personal heroes and role models of mine.
We are still months away from our departure date but have begun to prepare and train for the expedition. We will post updates here as the trip evolves.
Wish us luck.
-Bjørn and Kim