September 21, 2005

Canada: Back in Vancouver

So once you get to Inuvik by bicycle in the middle of a very short arctic fall, what do you do?


With luck on our side as well as the wind, we met Hank Pokiak on the Dempster Highway at the Ogilvy river lookout (km 256). Hank with much curiosity chatted with us while we all took in an amazing double rainbow overlooking the golden ribbon of birch trees that follow the floodplain of the river while the rest of the valley remained a rich dark evergreen.

Hank drove off and probably arrived in Inuvik that same evening, while it would take us another 6 days. When we arrived to a squall of snow we found out that Hank had left us a message. Hank runs a oil and gas supply and outfitting business and needed a truck to be delivered in Prince George... hmmm...would we be interested in taking it down for him?

It was an F350 turbo diesel crew cab pickup. Big enough to fit 6 touring bicycles and their riders. It was a fantastic opportunity, that would allow Mael to attempt to make it down to Vancouver in time for the beginning of university classes. Unfortunately this also meant that we would have to leave before classes started in Inuvik.
We had wanted to visit a few classrooms in Inuvik but apparently, on the first day of classes, the school was found to have structural problems. So classes started late, in temporary classrooms and in the recreation centre's hockey rink. This meant no lacross, no hockey, no ice skating. Thus visiting classrooms would have been delayed until later in the month.

On the drive down, we did manage to spend two days in Whitehorse to give presentations to a group of Grade 10, 11 and 12's at Porter Creek Secondary as well as Mrs. Burrell's enthusiastic Grade 6 class at Selkirk Elementary before we had to continue on to Prince George.

It was an eerie and altogether unnatural experience to retrace our steps in such a large and fast vehicle. In a day of driving we easily covered 10 days worth of riding. The drive also demonstrated very clearly to me why I thoroughly enjoyed doing the whole journey by bicycle. We had seen so much more from the seat of the saddle than when we were in the truck grasping to catch glimpses of important landmarks of our adventure on the way up.


I promised a few statistics for the trip. - So here they are!
After setting out on January 22nd 2004 I finished in Inuvik 587 days later on August 31st 2005 with Tania, Armel, Mael, Maria and Marcel. An average of 41 kilometers a day. But this doesn't tell the whole story. Of those 587 days only 333 days were actual riding days. Therefore the true average number of kilometers per day was 72.26. I do however believe that both stats are important when calculating what are reasonable distances to cover on a cycling trip. On the whole, I think we kept a decent pace that allowed us to do many other activities and deal with many major mechanical and physical breakdowns. That means I spent about 1665 hours on the saddle... (boy am I glad it was comfortable)


While in northern Mexico on a particularly hilly week we pushed just a little harder, logging more km in a month than ever before, because we knew I was keeping track of our food intake. The result was a caloric intake of more than 5500 calories per day. By comparison, the average base caloric burn of someone my age, not doing much excersise, is about 2500 calories.
I don't think we always ate so much, some in the group expressed that they never felt full at times while in the States and in Northern Canada, but in Mexico the opportunities to eat well and inexpensively were so frequent that we could not help but indulge.

It has now been a week since, under the cover of darkness, we have snuck back into Vancouver. Feigning a desire to get our personal stuff in order (see two years of unfiled tax returns) we did not call anyone. After a week of living as a recluse in my mother's home I realize that I am definitely going through a small bout of reverse culture shock with a good dose of the end of the road blues.
Alright! So we are now officially home and winding down the adventure... not quite.
I am sitting on 60 hours of video footage that I do not want to let go to waste. I bloody carried the 10 pounds of filming equipment the whole time so, I am going to make a movie! If anybody has some good leads on people who could help me produce it -please let me know.

Both Tania and I are currently entertaining the idea of looking for work. My bank account reflects almost two years without employment. That said, we calculated that our daily expenditures were about $9.60 CAD per person (Tania and Gwendal) for the past year (excluding flights, and initial bicycle and equipment purchases). That number still blows me away. Cycle touring truly makes travelling amazingly affordable!
For those who are not satisfied with just the website. We have plans to prepare a few slide show events of the expedition. Additionally we are also working on making good on our goal of bringing geography and adventure into the classroom by visiting schools and giving presentations this fall/winter; interested teachers please give us a call. Certainly in the lower mainland and if we can find some funding, we will go beyond as well.

Our phone number where we can be reached is: 604-787-9577







Thank you for letting us share this adventure with you!
The pictures on this entry are of all the cyclists who have participated in the expedition.

Posted by gwendal at 09:40 PM | Comments (1)

September 02, 2005

Canada: The end of the Road

We have arrived in Inuvik!!!!!
Wednesday August 31st 2005
Lat (DMS) 68 20' 60N Long (DMS) 133 41' 60W

I am totally euphoric and elated! The best birthday present.
It is hard to believe that the line I drew on the map over two years ago has now been under my wheels!
Under the cover of a nice little northern storm with chilly northerly winds we fought our way up the last 94 kilometres of the adventure one at a time for 5km in front. Fittingly just as we arrived past the Inuvik airport where the dirt and mud give way to smooth pavement, it started to snow! Inuvik's first real snow of the fall.
We could not have arrived at more fitting a time!!!

Deborah Bisson whom I had been in touch with throughout the expedition was there with her friend Sue and her two dogs Jessie and Willow to greet us.

As it was already 8:30pm when we arrived, we were happily lead to Deb's home for a very very sound night's sleep. The next morning we rode the last 2km to the MacKenzie river shorline for a little ceremonial celebration.

Those present were:
Marcel Gjissen: mostly on the bike and on all continents except antartica in the last 5 years
Maria Josenhans: Since 2003 she has been cycling in Europe, Morocco and most of the Americas.
Mael Castellan: Has joined the expedition in Vancouver and completed 3600km
Armel Castellan: Was with the expedition from Ecuador to Vancouver and he rejoined in Whitehorse for the finall push to Inuvik.
Tania Lo: has logged over 16000km since La Paz in Bolivia.
Gwendal Castellan: Has been on the saddle since Ushuaia. Departing on January 22 2004 and cycling 24 072km + 6000km of alternate transportation (Boats, trains and busses) for a total of 30 072km to arrive in Inuvik.

The sun sets at 10:30pm and twilight still lasts until midnight.
I saw the Aurora Borealis again last night.
It was my birthday on September 1st so I am now 29 and very happy about it because according to Maria it is the only age I will ever have... forever in my twenties.

Wooo Hooo!!! We made it accross the Dempster.

This will not be our last entry! we are only half the way up the Cassiar Highway in our stories of the trip. So I promise to finish posting all of these as well.
It has been a real pleasure to share my stories and thoughts during the last 18 months. It is going to be weird to stay put for a while. Beleive me I have been thinking about it. You can't help but let your mind wander while on the road and often it is living in the moment and other times it is wondering... what next?

Who know for sure but I am excited!

Posted by gwendal at 10:28 PM | Comments (6)