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Cycle South Expedition 2012

Check out the latest Cycle South Expedition News

Cycle South ExpeditionCycle South will be a world-first bicycle journey across the Antarctic continent to the South Pole. Covering nearly 750 miles, the route will traverse from Hercules Inlet to the Geographic South Pole, and if conditions permit, 750 miles back to the coast again. In the past explorers have famously quipped, 'because it's there.' However, the goal of the Cycle South expedition is to combine adventure and advocacy to demonstrate the many ways in which people can use a bicycle to protect our environment as well as improve the quality of our lives.

Using skis and sled dogs, Roald Amundsen was the first to traverse the snow and ice of Antarctica to successfully reach the South Pole. Since that time however, only a handful of expeditions have reached the Pole. In the race to the South Pole, expeditions have employed tractors, snowmobiles, trucks and more, but never has a traverse been completed on a bicycle. Learn more about Eric's modified bike.

According to Eric, "modern expeditions are less about geographic firsts and more about story telling." The Cycle South expedition will use the a bicycle expedition to the Geographic South Pole to achieve the following objectives:

  • Complete the first-ever bicycle expedition to the Geographic South Pole (and return should conditions prove favorable)
  • Engage a global audience through daily updates, podcasts, videos, real-time tracking, and more 
  • Produce a documentary film and book 
  • Raise money for several bicycle-themed advocacy groups (Parkinson's Disease, Climate Change, Bicycle Accessibility and Developing Nation Bicycle Donations) 
  • Develop a post expedition multimedia lecture series
Cycle South Expedition MapRoute

The route will span from the edge of the Antarctic continent at Hercules Inlet to the Geographic South Pole a distance of 600 nautical miles (roughly 750 statute miles). Should conditions be favorable, Larsen will then cycle back the entire distance to Hercules Inlet. In 2009, he completed the same traverse on skis over the course of 51 days, so he is quite familiar with the route. (View Eric's current location by clicking on map)

Eric's Gear for the Cycle South ExpeditionEquipment
While bicycles have been around for nearly two centuries, the technology allowing efficient winter travel is relatively new. Therefore, cycling in Antarctica requires a wide variety of custom modifications to be able traverse such a varied terrain while carrying several weeks provisions, gear and supplies. Eric will pedal the Surly Moonlander which uses nearly five inch wide low-pressure tires to provide float and traction over the snow and ice. He will be carrying his gear in specially designed panniers and food and fuel will be pared down to the bare minimum. (Image: Eric's gear includes an EvoGrip S557 Swiss Army Knife, RangerGrip 90 Swiss Army Knife and a Clava camping lighter). The RangerGrip 90 Swiss Army Knife is easily the sharpest blade I've ever used! The cable cutters on the pliers are equally as tough and the pliers themselves are sturdy enough for all the torquing I seem to put them through. Equally important for me, is the ability to use screwdriver bits. I can't decide if I use this knife more getting ready for an expedition or on it. Either way it's a well-designed tool that is never out of arm's reach.

Eric sporting his Sea Force 0641.102 Swiss watchObstacles
Surprisingly, the terrain in Antarctica is relatively conducive to snow bike travel as the snow is dense and compact. That said, storms can deposit large quantities snow which can create debilitating pockets of soft powder. Crevasses, whiteouts and sastrugi also pose formidable obstacles. (Image: Eric sporting his Sea Force 0641.102 Swiss watch)

Travel Schedule

The Cycle South expedition will follow a very regimented travel schedule:

  • 0600 - wake up, snow melt, breakfast
  • 0730 - strike camp
  • 0800 - first biking shift
  • 0930 - break
  • 0940 - second biking shift
  • 1100 - break
  • 1110 - third biking shift
  • 1230 - break
  • 1240 - fourth biking shift
  • 1400 - lunch
  • 1500 - fifth biking shift
  • 1630 - break
  • 1640 - sixth biking shift
  • 1800 - break
  • 1810 - seventh biking shift
  • 1930 - camp set up
  • 2000 - dinner snow melt, web update, gear repair, check navigation
  • 2200 - sleep

Project timeline

Current - Training, gear testing and general expedition preparations.

  • 12.13 Depart Colorado for Punta Arenas, Chile
  • 12.17 Depart for Antarctica via Antarctic Logistics and Expeditions Ilyushin -- weather permitting
  • 12.20 Depart Union Glacier Base Camp for Hercules Inlet (edge of Antarctic continent) via ALE Twin Otter
  • 12.21-01.12.13 Bicycle 750 miles to the Geographic South Pole
  • 01.13-01.25 weather permitting return bicycle journey to Hercules Inlet
  • 01.27 return ALE Ilyushin flight to Punta Arenas, Chile.
Eric in action during the Cycle South Expedition (January 2013)

Training: Churchill, Manitoba (March 2012)

Training/Evaluation: Arrowhead 135 Ultra Marathon (February 2011)

Cycle South Expedition News
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