7,000 Miles, 7 River Crossings, No Fuel: An Epic "Fatbikerafting" Journey

by  Blane Bachelor | Feb 23, 2012
Fatbike / ivandan/iStock

Ever heard of fatbikerafting? I hadn't either, until I recently read about Andrew Badenoch. But if this former marketing pro-turned-Arctic explorer has anything to do with it, the tongue-twister-ish term – which basically means getting from Point A to B using a fatbike (the newest iteration of mountain bikes, featuring wider tires) and a packable raft – might one day be the preferred mode of transport for adventurers who prefer to leave as light a footprint as possible.

In about a month, Badenoch, who has called a boat home since 2008, will travel from Bellingham, Wa., through Canada up to the southern Arctic Ocean, through Alaska and back to Bellingham, connecting the land and water routes via fatbike, raft, and foot. He’ll log some 7,000 miles and cross seven rivers using zero fossil fuels during his expedition, which he estimates will take 6-8 months.

Badenoch will document his journey using ultra-light camera gear and video equipment and, once he's back, turn the footage into a documentary film. Funding for this extraordinary trip came from a Kickstarter campaign (it's now officially over, but you can still contribute to the expedition here). Badenoch's clever model for donations: promising benefactors such goods as an expedition guide, a producer credit in his film or the supremely enticing offering at the $100 Adventure Life level: Badenoch's "in-depth how-to guide answering the question I get asked most frequently: "Hey Andrew, how do you stay funemployed and live an adventure lifestyle without a trust fund or criminal enterprise?".

Badenoch's Arctic trip, his first major expedition, is part of his larger "77Zero" mission to cross all seven continents and seven seas using zero fuel. Of course, he's certainly not the first adventure-minded soul in this day and age to abandon a 9-to-5 existence for an expedition in search of personal enlightenment, fame, or global awareness of an issue (remember The Plastiki, a raft made entirely out of plastic bottles?). But while he acknowledges the element of bravado in any such undertaking, Badenoch is also smartly focused on getting out a simple message: that humans don't need huge sums of cash or fuel-sucking itineraries to get more adventure into their lives.

fatbikerafting Andrew Badenoch / Andrew Badenoch

"I want to show how it's actually, despite the extra money because of the documentation of this project, reasonable to put on a mega expedition like this," he explains in his Kickstarter video, while walking through some snowy wilderness and wearing – seriously – a kilt. "The bike is not more than the mountain bikes that most people have in their garage, and pack rafting is a few hundred dollar investment. Put that together, and you're most of the way there. . . . The same type of thing could be employed at a much smaller level, and I encourage everybody out there to get out and do the same."

(Indeed – just try to watch his video without wanting to embark on adventure of your own.)

In the last few weeks leading up to his expedition, Badenoch, who's inspired by early polar explorers, is focused on "just training and planning and training and planning." Presumably, he won't be packing too much stuff – not surprisingly, his beloved kilts, which reflect his Scottish heritage and are "actually pretty warm in relatively cold temperatures," will stay home.

"They're uncomfortable for sitting in a raft half-filled with water and don't fit under a dry suit, and they're not great for cycling, as one might imagine with the wind involved," Badenoch said in a recent an e-mail, adding a smiley emoticon.

Hard not to smile back at this guy and his incredible upcoming journey. Best of luck, Andrew.

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