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World's first cycle to the South Pole achieved


December 27, 2013

Maria Leijerstam with her White ICE Cycle

Maria Leijerstam with her White ICE Cycle

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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 400 miles (644 km) long, stretching from the edge of the Ross Ice Shelf, up over Leverett Glacier, and onward to the South Pole.

Source: Inspired Cycle Engineering

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

When I saw the attempt announced on Gizmag, I thought it would be a big fail, without even reading much of the article. I am astounded.

Dave B13

She's nuts!


I wish that sometime in my life I had felt good enough to try a silly stunt like that.




Excellent. It might be a good idea to install the body. Anyway, I wish you good luck.


Two guys beat by a girl on a tricycle! Girl Power! Recumbent Power!

Bob Shock

Bravo! Bravo! Once again the recumbent shows its ability to out-perform the upright diamond-frame bicycle. Snow. Ice. Winds. Glaciers. Or just a quiet ride on an old tow path. Recumbents are, truly, the cycle design of this century. Congratulations to all involved. The rider, obviously, but also the designers and builders at ICE. Bravo!!


Hurray for Maria and for recumbents. Trikes have become light weight and fast and they enable cyclists with handicaps or balance issues (e.g. from multiple sclerosis) to keep riding. However, the most interesting technical advance for recumbents comes from a design that moves the bottom bracket and drive train to the front wheel. This does away with recumbents' huge disadvantage when going uphill. Maria Parker at age 48 (!!) broke a number of records and won RAAM on her Cruzbike Vendetta. Convinced me to ditch my 18lb carbon recumbent for this new design - and it's working!


The south pole on an ICE machine. Perfect !



Jeffrey Penso

Well done Maria!

Having recently bought my first recumbent, I have experienced the superior comfort and ease of riding. But I don't think I'll ever be up to a journey this long or under such conditions! ;-)

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