The James Bay Descent (Video)
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Last winter we reported on four cyclists planning to fat bike 600km through Northern Ontario’s polar bear country, from the Attawapiskat First Nation to Smooth Rock Falls. Well, they made it happen and put together a video of their trip. Watch the full video here, followed by a stunning gallery of photos…
We’ve been anxiously waiting to hear more about The James Bay Descent, a 600km winter fat bike expedition through Northern Ontario to raise money for the Timmins Native Friendship Center. The group, consisting of Ted King, Ryan Atkins, Eric Batty, and Buck Miller, are back and ready to share their story. The vast majority of what the group was attempting had never been done on a bike, navigating sections of James Bay and the area’s ice roads in arctic temperatures—and raising almost $8,000 along the way. Watch the full video below, followed by a beautiful selection of photos by Eric and a little background on the trip.
After catching wind of four daring—and potentially crazy—cyclists’ plan to ride 600km through Northern Ontario’s harsh polar bear country, we had to find out more. The group of four included 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.
Back in 2013, Buck lived in the remote town of Moosonee, Ontario, and often studded up hiss rigid Kona to explore the icy roads nearby. The James Bay Winter Road is one such road, a seasonal ice road that connects the communities of Attawapiskat, Fort Albany, and Kashechewan to Moosonee. The 193-mile (312km) track opens up mid-January every year to light traffic (after a pretty extensive flooding and maintenance regiment). In 2013, Andre Riopel and Greg Prodan pedaled 300km from Attawapiskat to Moosonee, completing the feat in just two days. Buck’s group was excited to tackle the same route, and more, completely unsupported. It’s worth adding that normal temperatures in these parts are as low as -22°F (-30°C) through January and February (and lower, as you saw in the video).
After moving away from the area, Buck held on to the idea of riding the entire length from Attawapiskat all the way to Smooth Rock Falls. After connecting with hiss old friend Eric Batty, the two knocked out a warm up trip by cross-country skiing across Algonquin Park with Ryan Atkins. A bigger trip was next on their radar. This would 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 sea ice.
The James Bay Descent was born. And as per the plan, all funds raised from a pre-trip the GoFundMe page went towards the Timmins Native Friendship Center’s Moosonee Office. The self-supported trip started in the Attawapiskat First Nation on the shore of James Bay on February 4th. The group would attempt to ride to Akamiski Island in James Bay, part of the Qikiqtaaluk Region of Nunavut, and back. Then, 250km down the length of the James Bay Coast to the towns of Moosonee and Moose Factory. If it was impassable, the team would ride the 300km ice road section to Moosonee/Moose Factory. After Moosonee/Moose Factory they rode 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.
All told, the team completed the trip and raised over $8,000 for the Timmins Native Friendship Center. Well done, guys! We look forward to seeing what you get up to next…
The team’s gear list, as planned prior to the trip:
- 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
- 12 gauge shotgun for polar bear defense, as well as bear bangers that team members will have with them.