Shortly before Christmas, we heard about 35 year-old British adventurer Maria Leijerstam’s planned attempt to ride to the South Pole on a recumbent fat-tired tricycle. On December 27th at 1am GMT, she achieved that goal, becoming the first person to ever successfully cycle from the edge of the Antarctic continent to the Pole.
Leijerstam used a modified version of the commercially-available Sprint trike, made by recumbent tricycle manufacturer Inspired Cycle Engineering (ICE). She chose to go with a recumbent trike because it would allow her to maintain stability in the often very-high winds. This allowed her to concentrate simply on moving forward, instead of having to waste time and effort keeping her balance.
The strategy paid off, as she not only made it, but also beat two other cyclists who had set out for the Pole on two-wheelers, days before her Dec. 17th start date. Her victory wasn’t just due to the fact that she could move faster, but also because the stability of her trike allowed her to take a different route that was shorter but technically more challenging.
That “shorter” route was nonetheless approximately 644 km long, stretching from the edge of the Ross Ice Shelf, up over Leverett Glacier, and onward to the South Pole.
Bravo! Difficult enough to develop, plan and build the whole process of a challenge like this. That took two years of training in Siberia, Norway and Iceland.
Having the courage, stamina and complete physical skill to win a first like this one – is worth worldwide recognition.