“Can you build me a trike so I can cycle to the South Pole?” That was the improbable challenge given by adventurer Maria Leijerstam earlier this year.
Maria is determined to become the first person to cycle to the South Pole from the edge of the Antarctic continent. She will be racing against two men who will be riding standard winter bikes called Fat Bikes. After two years research Maria has taken a radical new approach of riding a recumbent trike that could help win her the title and re-define the future of polar expeditions.
Maria starts her world record attempt a few days before Christmas 2013. She will be carrying all her food and equipment on a custom-made recumbent trike built by Inspired Cycle Engineering (ICE Trikes). The trike is stable and aerodynamic, with oversize tyres and super-easy gearing; essential qualities when cycling into 50 mile an hour headwinds, through snowstorms and up glaciers.
After her final training expedition in Iceland, Maria brought the trike to the ICE workshops for a full service in preparation for Antarctica. Watch this time-lapse video which shows the trike being re-built, with Chris Parker, who designed and built the trike, mechanic Matt Evans, and Maria Leijerstam.
After flying to Cape Town, South Africa, Maria flew on to the Novolazarevskaya Airbase in Antarctica where she is currently waiting for a good weather window to start her epic adventure to the South Pole.
"The first five days will be tough, but I am well prepared. Then it will be the hardest climb of my life up the Leverett glacier that rises almost 2,500 metres above sea level which will slow my progress down considerably, especially as the weather conditions are so unpredictable. The weight of my kit will be approximately 45kg on top of the weight of the Polar cycle and my body weight which I have to be able to peddle up the glacier,” said Maria.
After two years of intensive training and trials in Siberia, Norway and Iceland, Maria, 35, from Wales is determined to beat the competition for the title from Spaniard Juan Mendez and American Daniel Burton. Even though they have set off two weeks prior to Maria, Maria's cycle choice, route choice and expedition planning means her journey could be achieved by January 7.