Brazilian Adventurer Plans to Cross Antarctica on a Bike

The start of the 2018-2019 Antarctic season is still quite a long way off, but we’re already starting to get a hint at some of the expeditions we can expect to follow later this year. Among them will be Leandro Martins, a Brazilian native who now teaches kindergarten in Shanghai, who intendeds to cross the frozen continent on a bike.

Martins says that he plans to begin his ride on the Ross Ice Shelf, pedal up to the Antarctic Plateau, travel to the South Pole, and end his journey at Hercules Inlet. If successful, he’ll be the first person to travel Antarctica by bike, covering some 1800 km (1118 miles) in the process. He expect that it will take him 50-60 days to complete the journey, riding somewhere between 8-12 hours per day.

The use of fat bikes to cross snow and ice has become increasingly popular in the Antarctic in recent years, but a number of riders who have attempted to pedal to the South Pole have come up short. It turns out, this is an incredibly difficult way to cross Antarctica, with surface conditions not always being very conducive to riding. Massive sastrugi can slow cyclists down too and they still have to carry the same amount of equipment as skiers, meaning the bike tends to be very heavy.

Still, such a ride isn’t without precedent. American Daniel Burton successful made the journey from Hercules Inlet to the South Pole back in 2013, becoming the first person to complete that journey. He rode for 1243 km (775 miles), which is considerably less than what Martins plans. It should also be noted that polar explorer Eric Larsen made an attempt to ride to the South Pole back in 2012 and abandoned his expedition about a quarter of the way in.

That isn’t deterring Martins one bit however. He expects to embark on his journey later this year. Of course, we’ll be following along closely when he does.

Kraig Becker