Editor’s note: Another story that makes me jealous. The first human-powered, tricycle ride to the South Pole.
Maria brings home two World Records for Britain
South Pole double world record holder Maria Leijerstam arrived at Heathrow today to a crowd of welcome supporters. The other two challengers to cycle to the Pole, American Daniel Burton and Spaniard Juan Menendez Granados are still cycling.
Maria was suffering from chronic knee pain when she arrived, but having become the first person in the world to cycle to the South Pole in the record-breaking time of 10 days,14 hours and 56 minutes, her delight overshadowed the pain.
“I was adamant to peddle every metre of the way,” said Maria, 35, from the Vale of Glamorgan. “Even in areas of deep snowdrift and sastrugi, I was able to propel myself forward with the assistance of my hands on the wheels and shifting my weight in order to gain traction.”
Maria cycled a unique polar cycle, built by Inspired Cycle Engineering of Cornwall with three wheels to give her stability and allow her to sit in a recumbent position to optimize aerodynamics in the katabatic Antarctica winds.
Maria’s route took her from the edge of the Ross Ice Shelf up the Leverett Glacier which has been virtually unexplored by adventurers.
Against the stunning backdrop of mountains, she spent 26 cycling hours climbing 2,941 metres up the Leverett Glacier at an incline of over 20% at times.
“My mind is constantly busy as I try to calculate the best way forward with every revolution of the wheel. In order to maintain a steady speed, I had to focus hard on avoiding deep snowdrifts and sastrugi which ultimately stopped me in my tracks.”
Maria’s knee became increasingly painful after climbing the glacier with her 55kg of kit. She had to resort to strong painkillers to relieve her dislodged kneecap. A constant battle against frostbite was also at the forefront of her mind.
Update: December 23, 2013.
With the wonders of technology, we can follow a bicycle race to the South Pole live on the internet. The last I heard the British adventurer Maria Leijerstam is in the lead on her fat tire tricycle.
Editor’s note: It is just the first few days of summer way down under. I’ve been dreaming of cycling Antarctica for a long time. In fact, once I started the application process to work in the warehouse on McMurdo Station, a U.S. Antarctic research center located on Ross Island in Antarctica. But I didn’t think I could cope with being alone for another 8 months. Well, like I always say, it’s never too late until you’re dead.
Back in Wales, she is planning another full season of Burn Series multisport events which introduces people to adventurous sports. www.burnseries.co.uk
Follow the story on her website: whiteicecycle.com