An Icy Cycle
Kate Leeming: Cycling Antarctica
We chatted with Kate Leeming, an explorer who plans to be the first person in the world to cycle across the entire Antarctic continent via the South Pole. Yes, that’s right we said cycle! Having always enjoyed cycling for fitness and already completing other gruelling cycling challenges in Russia and Africa, Kate has now set Antarctica as her next destination to cycle.
Crossing the Antarctic is obviously not an easy task; working alongside a dietitian, Kate will be using up to 8000 calories a day and needs to ensure her protein levels are high so that she can speedily recover each night from the gruelling cycling she faces during the day. With a distinct lack of civilisation on the continent there’s definitely no no opportunity to pop down to the local supermarket, Kate’s food for the journey will need to be brought onto the continent and carried along the route. Her diet will consist of freeze dried meals, fortified porridge and a constant supply of snacks and fluids to keep energy levels up.
As virtually all wildlife is situated on the shoreline, Kate will not encounter many animals along her journey, unless she completes her ultimate route, crossing the Ross Ice Shelf (the largest ice shelf in Antarctica) where she will end at the shoreline and have the opportunity to encounter Emperor penguins and other birdlife. Undertaking the supported expedition means that for the most part it will just be Kate and 3 others in her team riding along with little other human or animal interaction.
Although other continents of the world have many challenges for cyclists, Antarctica is by far the hardest and most unique. The obvious difference when cycling in Antarctica will be that there is no local culture to explore, as well as cycling in conditions of variable soft snow with unpredictably soft snow where keeping your balance with every turn of the pedal is crucial. Kate will be riding on the first all-wheel drive fat-bike with 12cm wheels which has been custom made by Christini to have the features and capabilities needed to navigate the thick snow and ice sheets of the Antarctic.
Kate recognises that her biggest hurdle will be the climate. Having grown up in Western Australia she is used to hot weather and prefers cycling in heat where it is easier to cover up find shade protecting herself from the UV rays and consuming plenty of fluids. In the extreme sub zero weather of the Antarctic, there will be no escape from the cold and managing her body temperature will be difficult. Therefore, getting the right combination of clothing is essential, Kate will even have to regulate her body temperature to ensure she doesn’t sweat because when she stops moving, any moisture on her body will freeze (Crikey!)