Ice Bikers Complete Expedition Down Frozen Yukon

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Rapidly changing weather was a constant concern for the cyclists. For much of their journey, the trio battled frigid temperatures that rarely reached 0° Fahrenheit (minus 17° Celsius) and dropped at night to minus 40° Fahrenheit (minus 40° Celsius). Near the end of their journey, however, the team experienced just the opposite problem. Temperatures reached 45° to 50° Fahrenheit (7° to 10° Celsius), threatening river and coastal sea ice.

"It was sometimes so warm you could honestly be in a t-shirt, with the sun reflecting off the snow," said Vallely.

Rain also posed problems. At times trails across river and sea ice were transformed into shin-deep slush which forced the team to dismount and push their bicycles. Their pace slowed from 30 to 50 miles (50 to 80 kilometers) a day to 15 miles (24 kilometers) a day.

Rising temperatures created not only drudgery but also danger. River ice began to break up, creating open water areas and overflow, which made progress difficult and treacherous.

Despite the challenges, the team estimates that they pedaled three-fourths of the route, while walking and pushing their gear-laden bicycles only 25 percent of the time.

The onset of spring also brought the emergence of the region's dominant animal inhabitant—the grizzly. "We started seeing big, fresh grizzly prints and we were shaking our heads and saying, 'It's spring I guess,'" said Vallely.

Reflecting on his own modern-day adventure and that of his gold rush-era predecessors, Vallely noted their fundamental differences. "They were living an adventure. So they did something like this out of necessity," he said. "They didn't need to go in search of adventure."

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