Epic Xmas

EricLarsen1
There are a flurry of expeditions being launched this Christmas in an attempt at the most epic Xmas Epic. – Yes, we are talking about extreme Fat Biking to the South Pole.

At ~1000 km from the closest coastal point to the South Pole, it’s a fairly standard Xmas Epic distance-wise. But no-one has done it. Basically because of Katabatic wind.
800px-Katabatic-wind_hg(It’s Greek for “strong, constant, sole-destroying headwind”)

Let look at the previous history and current attempts.

In 2003, Doug Stoup attempted an Antarctic expedition with an especially designed Hanebrink bike, but halted his expedition after “too many days of bad weather and unworkable wind”.
invicebike
Time article here.

Ultramarathoner, tightrope walker and television presenter, Helen Skelton, became the first person to cycle to the South Pole in 2012.
Helen-Skelton-summ_2090702b

However, she started only 165 km away as the last leg of an Antarctic triathlon, the first two being Kite-ski and cross-country skiing.
showbiz_helen_skelton_south_pole_1Details here.

Eric Larsen gave it a go over Christmas last year. Here he is on day 1.

An experienced cold climate traveler, in 2009 he did a “Save the Poles” series and became the first person to do Everest, North and South Poles within the one year. Twitter, blog, web, video, charities, podcasts, etc, here. Poles saved, another first beckoned: to be the first person to cycle to the South Pole.

It didn’t quite work out, and prudently turned back after 10 days when it became clear, after slow progress, that he wasn’t going to make with the amount of food he had. But the 280 km was enough to give him the current Record for longest bike ride in Antarctica.

The hardware, a Surly Moonlander:
fatBike1
“When most people look at a fat bike, they get it right away.” —Eric Larsen
(That’s after you think: “Where are the pedals?”)

Australian Kate Leeming is also giving it a go Christmas 2013. Her hardware is more exotic: an All-Wheel-Drive-Fat-Tyre (AWDFT) bike. Engineered by Christini Technologies (who specialise in AWD motocross motorbikes).

Power taken off the back wheel:
rear-wheel-drive-mechanism-300x225
a shaft up through the straight frame,
Zach-with-the-bike-300x225
and down the fork to drive the front wheel:
front-wheel-drive-bevel-gears-300x225

The team includes Claudio von Planta, the documentary filmmaker of “Long Way Round” and “Long Way Down” of Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman fame. Kate has no previous polar experience, but is currently testing equipment in Spitsbergen.

The purpose is to fight AIDS and HIV related diseases. The “media opportunities” and “sponsorship alignment” can be viewed in their brochure here.KateLeeming
A closer look at the star of the expedition (bike not people):

Also in the race is the South Pole Epic team, Daniel Burton and Todd Tueller of Utah (and Epic Biking) Their budget is only a fraction of Kate Leeming’s, but so far they have only raised 3% of their Kickstarter funds.
But I kind of like them – If you pledge $200 or more you will get a snowman made from snow from the South Pole
photo-11
together with a certificate of authenticity:
SnowCertificate

They will also be using Surly Moonlanders
fatbikes

Finally from Spain, Juan Menendez Granados, is also in the hunt and plans to tow a 90 kg sled with his bike:
Juan
I love the website. And the Juan sin Miedo (“Juan without fear”) blog here.

So that’s at least 3 attempts to made all at Christmas 2013, all probably starting from roughly the same place (Hercules Inlet). They are all likely to be extremely Epic and will experience a fair share of misery that’s been likened to living inside a frozen ping-pong ball. An informed commentary here.

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