Brek returns to northern trek

Brek Boughton, a Cap’s Bicycles employee, is heading back up north to continue a journey he started in 2011, to reach the Arctic Ocean.  - Photo contributed
Brek Boughton, a Cap’s Bicycles employee, is heading back up north to continue a journey he started in 2011, to reach the Arctic Ocean.
— image credit: Photo contributed

His knees no longer creaking and his toes free of frostbite, Brek Boughton will hop on his bike and resume his winter trek to Tuktoyaktuk on the edge of the Beaufort Sea in the Arctic Ocean on Sunday.

“A little bit anxious, a little bit nervous about getting up there,” said Boughton about resuming his frigid expedition.

Last winter, the Cap’s Bicycles employee attempted to ride a bicycle in winter to the outpost in the Northwest Territories. It followed on the heels of him cycling from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic in 2010. The Saskatchewan native used to bike all winter when he attended university in Saskatoon, so the idea of adding a third ocean to his accomplishments, and proving it could be done in the winter, appealed to him.

After leaving the Sapperton store on his bike in November 2011, Boughton headed up the Coquihalla Highway and points north into Alberta’s Peace River country before joining up the Alaska Highway. But eventually the pain from his creaking knees and frostbite on three of his toes forced him to call it quits south of Whitehorse at Jake’s Corner.

“It was definitely bittersweet. It was two months, and nearly 3,000 kilometres of being cold every day pedaling a bike. It was disappointing to be off of it, but in some ways it was relief,” said Boughton of adjourning his journey.

However, he vowed not to abandon the idea, and vowed to return to where he stopped to complete his northern excursion.

It’s something he’s now better prepared to do. This time he’s taking a better sleeping bag, better boots and more equipment.

“I think I’m more ready for it this time around,” said Boughton. “The toes are good. They’re a little sensitive. Other than I got frostbite, my fingers were more of a concern.”

To solve that issue he got help from his mother.

She’s sewn him a pair of mitts that attach to the handlebars. Last year his hands would get sweaty from all the work his body was doing, so he’d have to stop to change from mitts to gloves. Even if it only took a few minutes and his hands were still warm, the core of his body would cool down from the extreme temperatures.

Mom’s mitts have fleece on the inside and windbreaker nylon on the outside and are big enough he can wear a pair of gloves inside of them so when his hands get warm he can just pull them out without stopping.

He’ll begin part two of his trek to ‘Tuk’ from the Market Crossing Starbucks near Marine Way and Byrne Road in Burnaby on Sunday at 9:30 a.m. He plans to meet several colleagues and friends there who will accompany him to Tsawwassen to take the ferry to Victoria. Some will ride to Nanaimo with him, stopping overnight in Duncan, before coming home while he continues up Vancouver Island to Port Hardy. He’ll catch a ferry there to Prince Rupert and then take the Alaska government ferry to Skagway.

Then it’s back on his bike riding over the White Pass—like the Klondike gold miners—and into the Yukon where he’ll return to where he left off. By the time he reaches his destination, Boughtons figure he’ll have put on another 2,100 km.

Although last year he planned to return all the way by bike via Highway 37, the Yellowhead and the Cariboo, he’s decided once he gets to Tuktoyaktuk he’ll try and catch a ride back to Whitehorse and fly home from there.

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