Bike

BIKEPACKING INTO BAFFIN ISLAND’S BEYOND

Downtown Qikiqtarjuaq.

It was exactly zero degrees Fahrenheit on a bright, sunny and clear day. This was a day to start an expedition. As we rolled around town picking up last-minute supplies, we stopped at the small gas station to buy some white gas for cooking and melting snow during the next nine days.

A local utility worker, driving a pickup truck with a snowplow, pulled up to the one-pump station and rolled down his window. He looked at me and took in my boldly uncamouflaged neon orange, blue and purple Gore-Tex snowsuit.

Then he looked over at my fatbike with its voluptuous 5-inch tires and frame loaded with gear, and then back at me. His look said a lot, like: What the fuck are you doing here riding a bicycle? Are you fucking crazy? I agreed with him before he uttered a word.

And then, looking directly at my diminutive bike saddle and speaking in the slow staccato that Inuit locals speak when using their non-native English, he said: “I. Think. You. Are. Going. To. Freeze. Your. Balls. On. That. Seat.”

I wholeheartedly agreed.

“Might. Want. To. Add. Some. Seal. Fur.”

We both laughed.

Just five people had crossed this are a by bike in winter. If I was being honest with myself, the pictures I had seen on line made their journeys look miserable and not worth repeating.

Maybe I wasn’t so much worried about freezing my balls, but freezing my fingers and toes? No doubt. His skepticism and concern for my bodily harm echoed my own. Temperatures would definitely plunge far below

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