The James Bay Descent: Gearing up for a 600-km unsupported fat bike quest

Ted King and Eric Batty are part of a four-person crew taking on an epic journey this February

January 20th, 2019 by | Posted in MTB, Rides+Events | Tags: ,

What does it take to traverse 600 km of ice roads and forest service roads by fat bike across remote parts of Northern Canada? What does it take to make that journey unsupported in February, during the depths of a harsh Canadian winter?

James Bay Descent - Eric Batty
Image: Eric Batty / James Bay Descent

That’s exactly what the four retired pro riders making up the James Bay Descent crew are planning on doing. Former WorldTour pro Ted King is joining Canadians Eric Batty, Buck Miller and Ryan Atkins for the epic quest. On Feb. 4, they will start in Attawapiskat First Nation and ride over the frozen James Bay to Akamiski Island, which is part of Nunavut. They will then ride to Moosonee/Moose Factory, their halfway point. Then it’s down to Smooth Rock Falls, which is about 100 km north of Timmins. The goal, along with finishing the daunting route safely, is to raise $5,000 for the Moosonee office of the Timmins Native Friendship Centre.

The four recently got their first test of what they might face when they land on Akimiski Island in early February. Meeting at Atkins’ place in the Adirondacks to test gear and practise being very cold together, they headed out for a five-hour fat bike ride. The team then slept outside on Whiteface Mountain. The Adirondacks might not be Nunavut, but it doesn’t look like it was particularly tropical, either.

From Akamiski Island, the team plans to ride on sea ice towards Moosonee if the conditions are right. The alternative is the James Bay Winter Road. At the mouth of the Moose River, they’ll stop at the Moosonee Public School before continuing southward.

Should all go to plan, the riders are planning on finishing the 600 km unsupported trip roughly 10 days. They will become the first group to ride between Ontario and Nunavut.

The recent day trip in the Adirondacks isn’t the only preparation the four have put in. In February 2018, the trio of Batty, Miller and Atkins completed a 10-day trip across Ontario’s Algonquin Provincial Park. You can watch Batty’s film about the 165-km unsupported trip, Crossing Algonquin, below.

About the crew:

Ted King

Retired World Tour racer from Richmond, Vt., King raced the 2013 Tour de France, and remains a rider for Cannondale along with his podcasting career.

Eric Batty

Former Canadian national team mountain biker, and brother of two-time Canadian Olympian Emily Batty, Eric left racing to become a college professor and professional photographer. Living in Brooklin, Ont., Batty has worked with Red Bull and his photography has been published in print and online in various magazines.

James Bay Descent
The James Bay Descent route runs from Northeastern Ontario to Nunavut and back through Ontario’s far northeast.
Ryan Atkins

Former pro mountain bike racer turned professional obstacle course racer. Along with four World’s Toughest Mudder titles and two world OCR championships, Atkins is a two-time world unicycle trials champion and ice climber. He currently splits his time between Caledon, Ont., and Keene in the Adirondacks of New York.

Buck Miller

Having spent five years living on James Bay, the former Canadian national team road cyclist has the most local knowledge of the four. Miller grew up in Northern Ontario and was the driving force and organizer behind the James Bay Descent and 2018 Crossing Algonquin expedition.

Follow the James Bay Descent

On Facebook

On Instagram

Donate through the group’s GoFundMe page.