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Cycle South Pole update: testing and innovation

Posted: Sep 23, 2013 11:10 am EDT

(By Correne Coetzer) As no-one has ever cycled a full route to the South Pole, a lot of thinking, planning, testing and innovation are at the order of the day.


American Daniel Burton has  shot over his latest plans for the upcoming South Pole season. Spaniard Juan Menendez Granados completed his Greenland crossing with a Norwegian group. Kate Leeming writes about her preparation plans for her South Pole cycle attempt. All of them testing and developing new custom made polar cycle clothes and gear.


Daniel Burton


Earlier this year Daniel told ExplorersWeb that he plans to have a cycle team mate and an ANI guide on skidoo who will accompany him from Hercules Inlet to the Geographic South Pole. He has changed his plan now and will have no team mate cycling with and no skidoo driving along, although he will  have three resupplies, placed by ALE Twin Otter or car along the 1130 km route. 


If possible, Daniel plans do a return journey. He is booked on ALE’s November 23rd Ilyushin flight from Punta Arenas (Chile) to Antarctica. 


Juan Menendez Granados


Juan has just finished a Greenland crossing from east to west on the standard route from Isortoq to Point 660. He has tried and tested a fatbike during the expedition. It was a perfect training for Antarctica, he says on his Facebook, “I learned a lot of things, and I could do many tests with the bike.”


Juan plans to do a solo, which implies no resupplies, he told ExplorersWeb in an interview.


Kate Leeming 


As Kate’s mentor, Eric Philips, told ExplorersWeb, Kate has postponed her cycle attempt to the 2014-15 season. 


In a blog update Kate writes she feels that there are too many aspects of the project to effectively pull together the expedition before this November. The equipment needs further development and she would benefit from more time to train.


Her all-wheel drive system performed well during her training on Spitsbergen. “I think it may be possible to use the bike as it is, but I believe it would markedly increase my chance of success if we can improve the current set up. Steve Christini is working on Eric’s and my idea to add a broad bikeboard ski with a slit cut in for the wheels. The ski (donated by Slope Cycles, LA) will have an adjustable height so that it would only come in to play once the wheel sinks to a certain depth (a bit like the concept of a paddle steamer). I think it is worth a try.”


Kate is also working on a special pair of boots, using special thermal materials to keep her feet warm enough, but are less bulky so that she can pedal more efficiently. They will have a firm sole and inbuilt gaiters to keep out the cold, she explains. Furthermore some special solar powered handlebar mitts are in development. 


As for physical training she plans a Greenland crossing next year April. In June/July she is looking to cycle along the Finke River and across the Simpson Desert in Central Australia “to develop more strength and endurance.” In August/September her plan is to ride up the Manali Road to Leh, Ladakh in northern India with and average altitude of 4000m.


She added, “In Antarctica it won’t matter if I am ‘good for my age’ or ‘have good physical capacity for a woman’, the extreme conditions won’t differentiate these categories – I just have to be good and ready, with the best strength to weight ratio possible.”


Nobody has ever cycled a full route (that is, from a coastal start point) to the Geographic South Pole (90 degrees South).


Gateway port Punta Arenas, Chile, South America: 

To ALE/ANI base camp, Union Glacier 

(79° 45'S, 083° 14'W).

Hercules Inlet is located at 80°S not far from Union Glacier.

Gateway port Cape Town, South Africa: 

To ALCI base camp Novolazarevskaya / Novo 

(70° 46’37”S, 011° 49’26”E). 


A "solo" ski requires unassisted status (therefore no resupplies carried by pilots or car drivers, or anything received from any person) and no following of vehicle tracks (vehicle drivers navigating the way). 




ExWeb South Pole kick-off interview: Daniel Burton, return cycle journey


ExWeb interview with Juan Menendez Granados: the greatest challenge


Married couple for South Pole 2013-14


Australian Mawson Centenary Expedition update


Michele Pontrandolfo turning his compass South 


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


Polar Adventure Rules and Definitions


Adventure Network International (ANI)

Antarctic Logistics and Expeditions (ALE)

Antarctic Logistics Centre International (ALCI)


#polar  #danielburton #JuanMenendezGranados #kateleeming #cyclesouthpole #cyclegreenland #solocycle #southpole2013





Juan Menendez Granados on his fatbike during his resent Greenland crossing.
courtesy Bengt Rotmo, SOURCE
Kate Leeming on her bicycle practicing on Svalbard, "There is quite a difference in efficiency between Eric [Philips] skiing and me on the bike. Its not hard to see how much harder I have to work in icecap conditions."
courtesy Kate Leeming, SOURCE
Daniel Burton,"The Heatflex Hand Guards have a great way of attaching to the handlebar to keep them in the right place. These add a lot of warm protection for the hands. They also have a stem handlebar pack that will be great for the GPS."
courtesy Daniel Burton, SOURCE