(By Correne Coetzer) Fearless, resilience, fight, adversity, constancy, perseverance, concentration, determination, are some of the words that Juan Menendez Granados repeats in his head while doing two jobs to get money to pursue his adventure dreams.
At sixteen Juan did his first cycle trip and, at the time, what was at first a hobby, became his way of life. To date he has cycled more than 25,800 km and is preparing for "the greatest challenge of it all", to cycle solo to the South Pole, that is without any help (no resupplies and no support vehicles traveling with.)
The preparation is a challenge in itself. In less than two weeks, Juan will be joining Norwegian guide Bengt Rotmo and a team on an east-west (Isortoq - Kangerlussuaq) Greenland crossing. Juan will be pulling his sled with his fatbike.
ExplorersWeb: You are from Spain and as we know, financially things are tight in your country; therefore you have decided to go to Norway and take up two jobs to pay for your expeditions. Tell us about your jobs please.
Juan: I am working in Norway in summer time since 6 years ago. As I don’t have many economic help from sponsors, I have to come here and work really hard to save some money. I work in a fish market, selling smoked fish, and I do some “extra hours”, 3-4 days per week in a night club as a waiter.
I don’t have any days off in all the summer, and I work 10-12 hours per day, and 17-19 when I have the two jobs. Summers are really tough for me.
ExplorersWeb: Working those long hours, when do you get time to practice and prepare? How do you practice?
Juan: I do my training between the two jobs, and when I don’t have to sleep after the long weekend (usually I sleep 4h in the 48h of the weekend). I work out 2h per day, 5-6 days per week. Constancy is important, even if the training is not so much intense. I usually pull tires on asphalt carrying a backpack full of bottles of water.
ExplorersWeb: You are going to Greenland this autumn season. Who will be your guide and team mates? What route will you take? Will you be on your bike and the others on skis?
Juan: I am used to go solo in my expeditions, but in Greenland it is not allowed. I decided to join to a group. As Norwegians are probably the best polar explorers, I found interesting the idea to learn from them the small details which make the difference.
The leader is going to be Bengt Rotmo, with all Norwegians mates. We are going to do Isortoq - Kangerlussuaq. They are going to be on skis, and myself the only one on a bicycle. My goal is to do as much testing as possible.
ExplorersWeb: Who are your mentors?
Juan: Borge Ousland, Lars Ebbesen, and Bengt Rotmo. They have a lot of experience. Borge is considered the best polar explorer in our times. Lars is called by the Norwegians, “the father of the Norwegians guides”, and Bengt is one of the best polar guides in the world.
ExplorersWeb: What are the top 2 or 3 top tips they have given you?
Juan: They are improving my routines, teaching me to travel lighter, and to choose the right equipment.
ExplorersWeb: How much gear/food will you take with? Will you pull a sled behind your bicycle?
Juan: Yes, I will pull a sled behind me with everything that I need for the expedition. I would like to carry more than 56-58kg.
ExplorersWeb: Have you made special changes to your fatbike for the snow travel?
Juan: Not really. Just the tires. I will focus on cycling with heavy loads, and in bad weather, bad snow, uphill… I need to find the answers to some important questions.
ExplorersWeb: What are your favorite gear and clothes?
Juan: We live a lucky time, with a lot of good brands doing a great job with gear and clothing. Nowadays, Brynje is supporting me and I am really happy with their clothes and philosophy. They are polar explorers, and the know a lot. I am looking for more sponsors, specially gear and clothes.
ExplorersWeb: You have been traveling for many years with a bicycle on snow and ice now. Two lessons that you have learned with your bike in these conditions?
Juan: 1. Be wise and don’t try to cycle 100%. Sometimes is better to cycle 90% instead to get injuries.
2. Routine, Decisions amd traveling light are extremely important in polar environments.
Some of Juan's cycle expeditions:
1000 km in Scotland
1400 km across the High Atlas in Morocco
6458 km across the Amazon
4000+ km in Ural Mountains
Scandinavia in winter
5000+ km across Australia
Polar conditions: Canadian Arctic, Lake Baikal, and Greenland.
Nobody has ever cycled from the coast of Antarctic to the South Pole (90°S). Juan told ExplorersWeb that he does not feel he is in a race with the cyclists who plan to attempt the feat with skidoo support as they are in two different categories.
The Cycle Race for the South Pole: Spain's Juan Menendez Granados
ExWeb interview with Eric Philips, three decades of polar experience
ExWeb South Pole 2013 interview with Geoff Wilson, "my mind I feel will be the greatest maze of all"
The Cycle Race for the South Pole: Girl power, Kate Leeming
Arctic, Antarctica, Greenland and Baikal icebiking: Make your own
ExWeb South Pole kick-off interview: Daniel Burton, return cycle journey
A Photo Book - Cycling alone across the frozen Lake Baikal
#polar #JuanMenendezGranados #cyclesouthpole #cyclegreenland #solocycle