Japanese cyclist braves winter ride to N.W.T.'s Mackenzie Valley
Kenji Kurachi is cycling from Yellowknife to Norman Wells
Kenji Kurachi of Osaka, Japan, is cycling to the Mackenzie Valley from Yellowknife and aims to finish his journey by biking between Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk.
"I want to cycle on the Arctic Ocean," he says. "This is my dream. I want to challenge myself."
He’s previously taken bike trips around the world.
Kurachi, 32, arrived in Yellowknife mid-January. Kurachi has a tent, a stove and a generous supply of Ichiban noodles. He plans to eat three packages of those a day.
He's already done his first leg, spending seven days cycling to Fort Providence. He rode from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. but the nights were long.
“Very, very difficult and too cold. I stayed in my tent almost but I can’t sleep,” he says.
He had just passed Behchoko when what he thought was a cute dog came within a few feet of his bike.
"Big dog chase me. Run away. I thought 'Oh, very cute.' But it was a wolf. Very scary."
Kurachi managed to snap a photo of the animal and has been documenting his journey.
He says many drivers on the highway have stopped to check on him. He says he appreciates the kindness of Canadians he's met so far.
N.W.T. roads haven't been as kind. He's already had to make several tire repairs, and backtracked to Yellowknife last week to stock up on supplies.
"He had an unusual request," says David Stephens who's the bike manager at Overlander Sports in Yellowknife. "He asked me for 14 spare bike tubes for his bicycle."
A cycling enthusiast and former resident of Japan himself, Stevens speaks the language and understands Kurachi's will to see his dream through.
"It takes great courage, and to have done other trips successfully in the winter, I admire him for that.
"Some people think we are crazy or he is crazy, but we both agree we think people are crazy if they just sit in their house and watch TV all winter. It's a waste of a life."
Stephens plans to give Kurachi a place to stay at the end of his trip.
Kurachi has passed Fort Providence and is now continuing on to Wrigley. He expects to reach Tuktoyaktuk in April.