Back in 2010 we closely followed explorer Eric Larsen as he became the first person to visit both the North and South Pole, as well as the summit of Everest, in a single 365 day period. That was an epic undertaking which he used to help raise awareness of the dangers of climate change to the cold places of our planet. Last Friday, Larsen announced his next expedition and it should come as no surprise that he is returning to the Antarctic. This time around however, he intends to make the journey to the South Pole in a completely different fashion.
In December of this year, Larsen plans on becoming the first person to ride a bike from Hercules Inlet to the South Pole, and possibly back again. If he does the entire route, he’ll cover approximately 1500 miles (2414 km) through snow and ice. He’ll also face sub-zero temperatures, whiteout conditions and strong winds on this expedition which he is calling “Cycle South.”
While in the Antarctic Eric will be riding a specially built Moonlander bike from Surly that features 5-inch wide tires. Those fat wheels will allow him to gently roll over ice, snow, sastrugi and other obstacles. And while they are designed for polar travel, they weren’t meant for speed or ease of pedaling. I had the opportunity to inspect the bike at the Summer Outdoor Retailer show in August and I can assure you I’ve never seen anything like it. The Moonlander certainly looks like it is ready to take on the demanding Antarctic terrain.
I also had the opportunity to talk shop about this expedition with Eric while at OR and I can tell you that he is excited for the undertaking. While out on the trail, he intends to use his website, Facebook page and Twitter feed to keep the rest of us well informed about his journey. Eric hopes to release daily audio dispatches, text alerts and even videos to show us what it is like in the Antarctic. He’ll even use a DeLorme inReach satellite communicator, which I just reviewed here, to keep us informed of his location at all times.
You can bet that once he is underway, I’ll be following his progress very closely and posting regular updates here. Until then, if you’d like to get a sense of what riding a bike in the Antarctic will be like, check out the video below.