So you want to ride a fat bike across Antarctica? First of all: What? And secondly: How? We’ve been following Kate Leeming’s quest to conquer various inhospitable environments on her custom made Christini all-wheel-drive fat bike for some time and she’s just back from her latest foray into the unknown with a report that will have you chomping at the bit to get out and have your own adventure – just perhaps without so much weight loss!
Ready For Antarctica – Kate Leeming
I am writing the final post for Breaking the Cycle Yukon from Vancouver airport, waiting to board the plane for Brisbane and then on to Melbourne.
My sister Robin, who lives in Sacramento, California came up to Whitehorse and we spent three days staying at the magical Boreale Ranch, about 40 minutes drive from the capital, and visiting some of the local sites. It is rare these days that we get to spend some quality sister time together and we were both able to relax.
Overall I’m very happy with the expedition. I was able to spend an extended time in conditions that will be as cold as I will expect to find in the Antarctic summer. In addition, at times we were facing a serious arctic wind chill. I didn’t have all the clothing systems right, but got to try several combinations of gear made from different materials and now know what works for me.
I am confident the all-wheel drive Christini fatbike (mark III) is right for the task. The extra flotation gained from using the 13cm wide rear tyre (the widest available) is beneficial in the soft conditions and the all-wheel drive system is engaging smoothly and efficiently. Having spoken to other fatbikers in Whitehorse who are experienced at cycling in similar conditions, I know that I was able to cycle more of the bad surfaces than others have managed (often in the kind of snow conditions
that I faced, riders have to walk their bikes much more, even days at a time because they could not get enough traction). My bike is no miracle though, I still have to battle extremely hard much of the time just to move forwards, but I have more chance of pedalling because of the technology.
It was a tough expedition and I lost a lot of weight, especially in the first 3 weeks. Towards the end, when I was just riding the ice roads, the energy requirements are not so great (more like normal cycling except the cold burns more calories), and my weight seemed to normalise.
I learned a lot also from Bob and Theresa, who have been facing such conditions for many decades – dealing with the extreme cold is second nature to them.
All of these experiences from this expedition, and the previous two in Svalbard and Northeast Greenland, have gone into the mix and I now believe I am ready and have the team to traverse the Antarctic continent – just add the right funding and we’ll be there this coming December/January.
Claudio has made a short video using stills from the stunning footage that he’s taken on this journey.
Learn more about Kate’s traverse of the Antarctic continent here: http://www.kateleeming.com/ and at http://www.expenews.com/en/expeditions/464/dispatches/6725