Monday, January 28, 2008

The Dempster Highway

Riding the Dempster Highway will be an interesting way to start my summer bike tour. I'm not sure if starting in Inuvik and riding south will make things easier or harder. On the positive side I'll get the hardest part of the tour done first and have access to a bike shop in Whitehorse if my bike takes a beating on the Dempster. On the negative side I'll be going from downtown Calgary to the middle of nowhere in about 5hrs by plane. The culture shock will be pretty extreme.

Looking at the map above there is a "road" to Tuktoyaktuk, but I think it is a winter ice road and is not passable in summer. I'll have to verify that because if it is a passable road I might want to ride to Tuk first while I am in the neighbourhood.

Update: the road to Tuk is a winter only road so the farthest north I'll be going is Inuvik.


runawayscreaming said...

"Update: the road to Tuk is a winter only road so the farthest north I'll be going is Inuvik."

Ha ha, I was going to mention that. As far as I know, nobody has cycled the Dempster highway in the winter. I have thought about it but it's probably a good way to become a cyclo-popsicle and a real vacation-ruiner. I could not think of any good ways to handle the condensation. Perhaps it could be done in a velomobile. The temperature in Inuvik today is a balmy -32 but in winter it usually gets colder the further away you get from the beach (it's -40 in Fort Liard at the moment).

I think you should be able to make it back to cowtown without having to worry about bike shops. Just take wheels that are not worn out, extra spokes and two sets of tires (one set for asphalt and a second, puffy set for the rougher parts of the Dempster, especially if it gets a bit muddy and pot-holey if it rains).

It should be a fantastic trip!

Mr. Drew said...


I drove to Inuvik in 1996. The Dempster Highway is paved in shale. It's hell on tires. I'd bring lots.

The mosquitoes are horrendous. Half the vehicles on the road are RVs.

This should be a great trip.

Doug said...

I'd like to hear more of our plans. When is this ride happening? What kind of distances? What bike?

Vik said...

Hey Doug,

My tentative dates are 15 July to 20 Aug 2008. I'll probably book a flight to Inuvik in March/Apr so I'll have to finalize my plans by then.

I'll be riding my Thorn Sherpa DF touring bike - 26" wheels with 2.0" Marathon XR tires.

I'll be camping as much as possible along the way with daily distances averaging out to 120kms riding 6 days a week with one rest day to do laundry and such.

If you are interested in the trip at all let me know I am more than happy to be a bit flexible [route, daily mileage, accommodations, rest days, etc....] to have some company for all or part of the ride. The stretch from Inuvik to Whitehorse [1200kms] will be the most remote/exotic and you could fly in and out from those cities if you only had a shorter available time for riding.

BTW - it will be 24hr daylight during that time in the Arctic - that should be a cool experience.

Vik said...

Thanks for the tire tips guys. I was planning on using brand new Marathon XRs 26 x 2.0" and carrying a spare.

I have a friend who lives in Whitehorse who suggested the bugs wouldn't be as bad [relatively speaking] in later part of July. I'll bring a bug shirt and long pants/shirts to deal with the situation.

Doug said...

Vik, It's very,very tempting. Sounds like a great ride. However, I have somewhat limited vacation time, so I have to ration my fun times away from work. This years vacation time is already planned out.

Funny, I just realized I wrote "our plans". Sorry...I meant "your plans". I don't make it a habit to invite myself on other peoples rides...Honest! I need to proof read my comments.