American explorer attempts bicycle journey to the South Pole

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December might not seem to be the ideal time to embark on a bicycle touring adventure, unless your destination is the South Pole where summer arrives Dec. 21.

Eric Larsen riding bike in Antarctica

That’s where Boulder-based adventurer Eric Larsen is headed on his 750-mile Cycle South expedition.

The 41-year-old is riding and carrying his provisions — about 100 pounds — aboard a Surly Moonlander that bumps across the snow and ice on low-pressure 5-inch wide tires.

He set off from the Hercules Inlet on the coast of Antarctica on Dec. 20 and hopes to arrive at the South Pole on Jan. 12.

He spent Christmas Day riding 22 miles across the snowy landscape. Technology being what it is, he was able to post a photo and short blog entry at the end of the day:

“Just a quick note to say Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone. If you didn’t have a white Christmas, you can borrow mine. … Going to sleep now with visions of sugar plums in my head… and a big holiday feast and maybe a chair (is that too much to ask?).”

Larsen will make the return trip by bike as well, weather permitting.

Larsen is no stranger to this route. as he did a similar expedition by skis in 2009. This adventure would be the first journey across the Antarctic continent to the South Pole by bicycle.

The posts at his blog show why no one has ever tried this before. He writes about the cold and steady elevation gains. Strong winds make the bicycle difficult to control and create nearly impenetrable snowdrifts.

He usually rides for about an hour, then takes a break to fuel up. Some days he’ll pitch his tent just to take a midday break away from the elements.

At his website, Larsen says he wants to show how bicycles can improve our quality of life as well as protect the environment. He’s advocating for Climate Change, World Bike, Parkinson’s Disease, Winter Wildlands, and Bikes Belong.

Larsen has certainly undertaken a difficult journey and we wish him luck and success in reaching his goal. We also hope he gets to return to Boulder safe and sound to reunite with his partner and their son, who was born in October.

You can follow Larsen’s expedition through blog entries, audio updates, and photos at his Cycle South blog. Also, a chart of Antarctica shows his current position.

Photo above from the Cycle South website.


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