Posted by Miles Arbour
Photos by Eric Batty
After catching wind of four daring, potentially crazy cyclists planning to ride 600km through Northern Ontario’s harsh polar bear country, we reached out to the group to get some more details on their upcoming adventure, dubbed The James Bay Descent. The group of four includes Ted King, a pro bike racer and Cannondale factory rider; Ryan Atkins, former national team rider and professional OCR racer; Eric Batty, former national team member and photographer; and Buck Miller, a former pro bike racer and father of two.
In 2013, Buck had been living in the remote town of Moosonee, Ontario, and was quick to stud up a rigid Kona to get around the icy roads. It’s not out of the ordinary to see temperatures as low as -22°F (-30°C) through January and February in these parts of Ontario. The James Bay Winter Road is a seasonal ice road that connects the communities of Attawapiskat, Fort Albany, and Kashechewan to Moosonee. The 193-mile (312km) road opens up annually to light traffic mid-January, after a pretty extensive water flooding and maintenance regiment. In 2013, Andre Riopel and Greg Prodan rode 300km from Attawapiskat to Moosonee, completing the feat in just two days. Buck’s group is excited to tackle the same route, and more, completely unsupported.
After moving away from the area, Buck kept the idea of riding the entire length from Attawapiskat all the way to Smooth Rock Falls close by. After connecting with Eric, an old friend, the two knocked out a warm up trip by cross-country skiing across Algonquin Park with Ryan Atkins. The James Bay Descent was next on the radar. This will be a first. No one has ever ridden a bike from Ontario to Nunavut, and the group is planning to take it one step further by riding down the bay on the sea ice.
James Bay Descent Details
- James Bay Descent: A 600km winter fat bike expedition through Ontario’s Polar Bear Country for charity.
- All funds raised from our GoFundMe page go towards the Timmins Native Friendship Center’s Moosonee Office.
- Starting in the Attawapiskat First Nation on the shore of James Bay, February 4th, self-supported.
- Riding to Akamiski Island, in James Bay, part of the Qikiqtaaluk Region of Nunavut, and back.
- Attempting to ride 250km down the length of the James Bay Coast to the towns of Moosonee and Moose Factory.
- If it’s impassable, the team will ride the 300km ice road section to Moosonee/Moose Factory.
- After Moosonee/Moose Factory ride the Wetum Winter Road, a seasonal ice road over muskeg to the remote hydroelectric site of Otter Rapids, then take a forest access road and finish on the Trans Canada Highway at Smooth Rock Falls
- 12 gauge shotgun for polar bear defense, as well as bear bangers that team members will have with them.
- 2x 2019 Cannondale Fat Caad 1 with Lefty Olaf.
- 2x 2019 Cannondale Fat Caad 2.
- Blackburn Outpost Elite frame, handlebar, panniers, rack, seat, top tube bags and cargo cages. Total liters of packable space: 70.
- 45NRTH Cobrafist Pogies gloves and Wolfgar boots with clipless pedals (opted out of platforms, hoping for hard conditions).
- Seek Outside 12-person tent with XL titanium wood stove.
- Cooking with wood, no gas stove.
- Dehydrated food and melting snow for water.
- Sleeping bags: Timmermade custom down bags, ultralight, rated for -25°C/-13°F but using overbag to add R-value.
- Exped Down Mat 9s all around
To make a donation to the Timmins Native Friendship Center, check out the James Bay Descent GoFundMe page. We wish the group a safe travels and look forward to sharing more details after their trip!