Testing out the new gallery feature! I like it!
Riding bikes is not the only addiction I have….Leslie that is…there is my LOVE for wildlife! Each year up in Churchill, Manitoba beginning in October the Polar Bears come out waiting for the Hudson Bay to freeze over so they can go out and hunt. Polar Bears are very hungry after the summer and hang out on the shore patiently waiting for the temperatures to drop.
The BLOG Polar Bear Alley is one I read every year to keep up with what is going on with the Bears. They used to broadcast a live cam from one of the Tundra Buggy’s but National Geographic cried poverty and withdrew the streaming. I have asked folks up in Churchill to see if they can at least make HD videos and post them and they are thinking about it. Nothing like seeing Polar Bears in their natural habitat. This is for sure one thing I need to do before I die! Get up to Churchill.
Polar Bears of Churchill – Waiting for the Ice
By mid-October, cooler temperatures bring a change in the bears. Restless, sensing a change in the season, many return to Churchill and gather along the coast in eager anticipation of the coming ice. Once here, some pace along the coast, roll around the willows, graze on some kelp or spar with a friend.
Most, however, pass the time in a ‘day bed’. A ‘day bed’ is simply a good resting spot, comfortable and sheltered. Preferred locations include willow thickets along the shallow tundra ponds and the deep kelp beds on the coast. There are certain ‘day beds’ along Cape Churchill that are used day after day, often year after year.
Resting is not without its complications. Larger, or simply more aggressive bears, often approach and displace sleeping bears. Once ‘victorious’, however, they may occupy the bed for only a short time.
Many times, the displaced bear will return, after walking a large, cautionary circle back to its original resting area. Once here, it is again, time to rest and wait.
Waiting pays off. With each succeeding tide, a little more ice clings to the shore. Each day, the ice reaches out a little further into the bay. And each day, the bears test the ice more and more.
Though considered a marine mammal, bears still prefer not to get wet in cold temperatures. Walking on newly formed ice, polar bears often spread all four legs further and further apart until their belly almost touches the ice. Their large paws distribute their weight very effectively, allowing them to walk on ice that would
not support the weight of a person…and especially not the weight of a tundra vehicle.
Alternately, they may test the strength of the new ice as they progress, giving a little pump with their front paws. As the shore ice builds so does the bears’ anticipation. By season’s end, many bears will be seen wandering along the ice’s edge, far out onto the bay.
Polar Bears of Churchill – How the Ice Forms
Salt water becomes heavier as it freezes. This leaves a greasy soup of ice washing in and out with the tide, each wave leaving just a little more ice clinging to the shore. In Churchill, high tide returns every 12.5 hours and it does not take long for the shore ice to extend well out into the tidal zone.
As well, Hudson Bay’s watershed extends west to the Canadian Rockies and south to Minnesota. This means that a tremendous amount of fresh water pours into the bay from several northern rivers. This inflow results in brackish water (a mix of salt and
fresh water) along the coast and surface of Hudson Bay. Since freshwater begins to freeze at a higher temperature than salt water, this further contributes to the speed of freeze up.
All the while, the ice builds along the northwestern coast of Hudson Bay. Soon, the ‘grease ice’ forms into little ice floes called pancake ice. A strong north wind and consistently cold temperatures of -20C (-4F) or lower will push this ice together and
pack it onto the coast of Cape Churchill.
Once these sheets have frozen together, it signals the bears’ departure. They will venture out to hunt seals even with only a few kilometres of ice. As winter progresses, the ice continues to encroach eastward until the bay is completely frozen, usually occurring in early December.
Almost every year, initial freeze up occurs around mid-November. However, in both 1991 and 2002, conditions prevailed for an early freeze. The freeze up was so sudden in 1991 that the bears departed near Halloween night. In other years, winter takes its time – 1999 and 2003 saw the bears remain ashore well into December. While a late freezeup is not as critical to the bears’ health as an early breakup, it does result in an extreme increase in polar bear occurrences within the community of Churchill.
These are rough routes of some of our possible 2012 trips. Would be from middle of May to June. We would most likely go through Alberta more heading back from Flagstaff, Arizona. Please post any MUST ride DS roads anywhere along this route. We will maybe have 24 days. All depends as usual with work.
Truly an amazing Story!
Occasionally a truly inspirational story challenges people to question their own boundaries.
This is one such case as Cathy Birchall set out on a yearlong motorcycle adventure to circle the world with her companion Bernard Smith. However, what makes this event truly extraordinary is the fact that Cathy Birchall is completely blind.
The journey aimed to challenge the perception of blindness…
In their subsequent voyage of learning and self-discovery, you will find the story heart warming, humorous, and emotionally honest. Ranging across the people they met on the road, motorcycles, and Cathy’s disability itself, you will find yourself drawn into a world never before written about. It is a fact many commentators considered this journey too dangerous to undertake while others even questioned their very sanity, thinking it madness to contemplate due to her blindness. With ominous alarm resounding in their ears, they set off alone on an eighteen-year-old motorcycle.
Despite these dire warnings, what they soon discovered was a world full of wonderful people who opened up to Cathy’s blindness; often in quite unexpected ways. Making you laugh and cry in equal measure, it is an account of the excitement, wonder, and fear stretching across their miles together as only they appreciated a simple fact.
Sometimes you need a little madness to find answers to questions you have carried with you throughout your whole life.
Watch out for the publication of this remarkable story.
Sometimes life presents you with an opportunity. They may be few and far between but they are always there at some point and you should grab them with both hands when they appear. Never be frightened by the change they represent and so make the decision to take these opportunities as you never know where they will lead nor when the next one will come along. You may not end up in a foreign land on the back of a motorbike but the world can be a truly wonderful place; life can be so rich if you have the courage to go out and grab it.
Over the years it seems we have been trying to find ourselves when it comes to the type of bikes we would really LOVE. If we had the space and money we would probably own one of each model, make etc….in any case, we have spent too much money in searching but worth it that we finally found our “TYPE” of bikes. The “BIG” bike Dual Sport has found its home with us at least during this phase of our lives. Although this search has been about trial and error, you live and learn. In the end I am sort of happy the Triumph deal did not go through at the end of the trip. Leslie that is. Although Cheryl did not mind the manual button dash I did. For the amount of money these bikes cost these days I also look for convenience.
I have been accused of being a bit of a spoiled brat wanting an easy on/off ABS button, the ability to see my odometer all the time and ambient temperature gauge on the Tigers. I still stand by my criticism of the Triumph bike. After riding our Beemers I love the fact that you can toggle through the informatics by pushing a button, I like to know the temperature and most importantly the ease of the ABS on the BMW is just smart. So, maybe this will change on the Triumph Tiger 800′s maybe not. I am just one rider.
Our very first bike together. Single cylinder and a great intro to riding. After 1/2 hour Cheryl all ready out grew the bike. I grew up riding, Cheryl did not. But it was a piece of cake for Cheryl to learn the mechanics of riding and we really thought this 500 would be around for awhile. Only lasted a few months until we bought the Suzuki SV 650′s.
The SV650 not a bad little bike at all
We both give the CBF 1000 a thumbs up. Nice weight, great on the track, enough power, comfortable for the most part and really fun to ride.
Cheryl’s 2009 HD Street Bob.
That was a nice Harley but man did we impulsively buy two expensive Harley’s only to keep them for about 4 months. This is the only real regret I feel we made when it comes to buying bikes. If we had the money I think we would have kept the Street Bob but in the end these are really not the bikes for us. I see Harley’s as show pieces and really one-dimensional. I rarely see any HD riders in the rain but that is the beauty of all different makes of bikes. What ever floats your boat I say.
So, here we are in the present and after taking the Triumph Tiger 800XC’s out for a jaunt we are still satisfied with our 2010 BMW F650GS bikes but will be seeing what is out there in the next year. As we get more experience with DS riding we are now going to be looking for a bit more HP in our next bikes, street comfort since we ride on the street 90% for work and a bike that can handle the back country roads.
Will our next bike be a Triumph? Will BMW revise the F800GS? Time will tell and it is exciting to see other companies trying to get into the ADV bike business. Competition is good to have and will only make all companies strive to develop the best bike they can.
** WARNING -The addiction to riding can be severe. Anyone out there contemplating getting into riding in general but more specifically ADV riding, BEWARE! It is almost all we think about….planning the next trip, saving money, figuring out how we can get a lot of time away from work…you get the point. Addicting and just so much fun!
Last year October 2010 we decided the last minute to take a ride to Winthrop, WA. Left late in the day and got caught in the dark. My video using my old Contour 1080p HD camera.