Sunday, May 19, 2013

A Race to the South Pole -- by Bicycle

Three Expeditions are Striving to be the First to Bike to the South Pole

A race reminiscent of the historic Amundsen-Scott race to the South Pole is coming. In mid February an American team headed up by Daniel Burton announced their planned expedition, The South Pole Epic, from the edge of Antarctica to the South Pole and back by bicycle. Then in late April, Kate Leeming of Australia announced her expedition, Breaking the Cycle South Pole, that closely resembled the plans announced earlier by the American team. Finally, in early May Spaniard Juan Menendez Granados announced that he, too, intends to bike to the South Pole. All three expeditions are planned for this coming Antarctic summer.

The American team is planning on producing a documentary and TV series chronicling the 1,400 mile expedition as it braves strong katabatic headwinds, dangerous crevasses, and -40F temperatures on its journey to the South Pole. 

Everyone is invited to get involved in helping the American team win the race by contributing to the team's Kickstarter project The project has some unique rewards for those who pledge money to fund the expedition. By getting support from the general public and corporate sponsors, The South Pole Epic team will be able to have the equipment to be competitive in the race to the South Pole.

Nobody has yet been able to complete a bicycle journey across Antarctica to the South Pole. Burton says, "In 2012 a polar explorer, Eric Larsen, attempted to be the first to bike to the South Pole. While his expedition failed to reach the bottom of the world, it did prove that fat tired bikes work in the Antarctic conditions." The American team will be using "fat bikes" that have tires which exceed 4 inches in width that are designed for travel in snow and sand. "These bikes," Burton says, "allow people to ride a bike in places never before possible, and have set the stage for the ultimate bicycle race."

Burton has also created a facebook page and blog to keep everyone up to speed on the project. 

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