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Solo Explorer Begins Bicycle Journey To South Pole

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the things-i-really-don't-want-to-ever-do dept.

Transportation 144

Hugh Pickens writes "Helen Skelton, the first person to solo kayak the length of the Amazon, has set for herself another difficult task — to travel up to 14 hours a day battling 80mph winds and -50C temperatures 800km across Antarctica in an attempt to reach the South Pole by bicycle. It's no average ride, and Skelton, 28, is not using your average bike. Her specially-built Hanebrink 'ice bike' took designers in Los Angeles three months to finish. It features a seamless frame made of aluminium aircraft tubing, heat-treated to withstand harsh environments, and fat, tubeless, rubber tires designed to bulge over the rim to provide maximum stability and traction. The bike is designed to be as minimalist as possible, to make it aerodynamic and very low maintenance. 'The bike is designed specifically to cycle in soft snow or sand,' says polar guide Doug Stoup. 'We trained together in the desert this past summer. It helps because the temperatures are so cold the snow has little moisture and has a sand-like consistency.' Explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes commends Skelton for taking on 'incredibly tough and grueling challenge.' 'Like Captain Scott, Helen is attempting something that has never been tried before and I applaud her pioneering efforts.'"

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Follow-Up (1, Offtopic)

DC2088 (2343764) | more than 2 years ago | (#38614356)

Solo Explorer Cannot Tell You What It Was She Saw, It Was Too Horrible, Cannot Describe, Just Keep Flying Damn It

Re:Follow-Up (1)

jgagnon (1663075) | more than 2 years ago | (#38614456)

She's not saying it was aliens... but it was aliens?

Re:Follow-Up (2)

DC2088 (2343764) | more than 2 years ago | (#38614466)

Solo Explorer Suddenly Terrified of Barrels, Penguins

Re:Follow-Up (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38614498)

Re:Follow-Up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38615096)

I love it when these get modded down. It tells me that I got at least one person. (o;

Re:Follow-Up (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38617608)

RickRolling is a bit like Goatse, first you get used to it, then you learn to appreciate it.
Have noticed that white fluff in the bottom left corner, what is it?

Re:Follow-Up (2)

laejoh (648921) | more than 2 years ago | (#38614570)

Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li!

I for one would use a Dornier Wal instead of a bike!

Re:Follow-Up (2)

P-niiice (1703362) | more than 2 years ago | (#38614826)

They were infamous, nightmare sculptures even when telling of age-old, bygone things; for Shoggoths and their work ought not to be seen by human beings or portrayed by any beings.

A bike to the South Pole? (3, Insightful)

grub (11606) | more than 2 years ago | (#38614366)


'Like Captain Scott, Helen is attempting something that has never been tried before and I applaud her pioneering efforts.'"

I bet that won't be the only similarity between her and Scott...

Re:A bike to the South Pole? (1)

durrr (1316311) | more than 2 years ago | (#38614416)

Unforunately she'll be mummified and buried in ice so her last name is inappropriate.

Re:A bike to the South Pole? (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38614862)

Unforunately she'll be mummified and buried in ice so her last name is inappropriate.

Enough windburn and she'll be a red Skelton.

I'm certainly put off by the wind - when it hits about 20 knots it's some real work to go in. In the winds she'll be facing I can't imagine doing other than trying to simply stay in once place, without my bike being blown away - and these winds can go for more than 24 hours.

Re:A bike to the South Pole? (1)

MarkvW (1037596) | more than 2 years ago | (#38614530)

I'd compare her to Amundsen, rather than Scott, but that's just me.

Re:A bike to the South Pole? (1)

tokul (682258) | more than 2 years ago | (#38614874)

I'd compare her to Amundsen, rather than Scott, but that's just me.

Amundsen went low tec to South Pole. It was Scott's (or Shackleton's) f.... idea to use ponies and motor sledges. I don't think that Helen's bike is edible.

Re:A bike to the South Pole? (2)

MarkvW (1037596) | more than 2 years ago | (#38615258)

Amundsen lived. Scott died. Shackleton required extraordinary skill and courage to overcome disaster.

I wish the woman Amundsen's luck!

Re:A bike to the South Pole? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38614926)

I don't think so, she's going solo, so she won't be able to eat any dogs on the way back.

Re:A bike to the South Pole? (2)

macraig (621737) | more than 2 years ago | (#38615142)

And she can't even justify her odd choice of a bicycle by merely quoting Edmund Hillary, either, because the bike wasn't there until she commissioned it to be built.

I am mystified by people who do things just to be different and get attention, as opposed to solving a problem or serving a practical purpose.

Re:A bike to the South Pole? (2)

timeOday (582209) | more than 2 years ago | (#38617916)

Yeah, "pioneering" ain't what it used to be. There's a big difference between being the first to go somewhere, vs. being the first to do so on a pogo stick. It's too bad space didn't turn out to be more useful.

Re:A bike to the South Pole? (2)

macraig (621737) | more than 2 years ago | (#38618216)

Space isn't useful, but the stuff that punctuates it certainly can be. It's just that space is BIG and there's no places to make pit stops... stop and build a fire and catch a wabbit or two for dinner. Crossing the oceans was once pretty hard because those pit stops were rare, but they still had air to breath, a magnetosphere and ozone layer overhead, and the medium itself wasn't immediately deadly. Space as a medium is just a wee bit more hostile. It's still necessary and worth it, but we'll need more desperation or vision to do it.

Re:A bike to the South Pole? (1)

jlarocco (851450) | more than 2 years ago | (#38618524)

Have you considered she might enjoy doing it? Seems like a good enough reason to me.

Re:A bike to the South Pole? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38615248)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roald_Amundsen It looks like scott attempted something 33 days after it already happened. booooooooooom

Design (4, Insightful)

Dan East (318230) | more than 2 years ago | (#38614368)

Just a casual look at the picture of the bike makes me really wonder about the chain and sprockets on the back. They are totally exposed, and very low to the ground. Seems like they would be damaged on a chunk of ice pretty quickly.

Re:Design (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38614432)

I'd fully trust their design, what with all the snow and ice in LA

I'd say this is going to be a trip through Helen back.

Re:Design (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38614444)

http://surlybikes.com/bikes/pugsley No need to make a custom bike when an off the shelf model will do.

Re:Design (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38614472)

The new, even more over the top Moonlander might be more appropriate.

http://surlybikes.com/bikes/moonlander

4.7" wide tires. I'd give my first born to be able to justify owning one.

Re:Design (2)

SleazyRidr (1563649) | more than 2 years ago | (#38614744)

I came here to suggest the Moonlander, but you beat me to it. Surly is a good company that makes really good bikes.

Re:Design (1)

AshtangiMan (684031) | more than 2 years ago | (#38615508)

Agreed. I had a bike stolen, and replaced it with a Surly pacer with a Sram group on it. The thing kicks ass, by far the most versatile and comfortable road bike Ive ever ridden. I keep up with the racers and can ride a century plus with no lingering pains. I think my next bike will be the Karate Monkey.

Re:Design (1)

Corf (145778) | more than 2 years ago | (#38614484)

The bike industry has had ample experience making stuff that holds up to getting bashed around. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EqYgAX6D43Q [youtube.com]

Re:Design (3, Informative)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | more than 2 years ago | (#38614716)

Obviously you don't have much experience at 50 below zero (and no, I don't count the 'with the windchill' bullshit... try working at 50 below BEFORE factoring in the wind). Even metal parts break a lot easier if they aren't purpose built for the cold. So experience going down a hill at anything above zero Celsius does not prove anything about suitability at the temperatures she is going to encounter. I have worked in Manitoba with equipment designed and built in the southern half of the U.S. that was supposed to be suitable for arctic winters. I guess a lot of people down there don't get it. We had to do a bunch of modifications after we received the equipment (a gas analyzer shed) so that it wouldn't freeze up and quit. And Antarctica can make the arctic look like a trip to Cancun (ok a little hyperbole, but it is way harsher down south).

Re:Design (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38615226)

Here here! I'm from Manitoba, and have spent much time not particularly close to the USA border. Clothing in particular annoys me. If it wasn't designed specifically BY people in these temperatures, you can just about guarantee it'll be just about as useful as a wet tshirt. I'm sorry, your "polar" jacket or toque allows the wind to cut right through it like it wasn't even there. This is not a good design or make.

Also, anything involving plastic. Unless it's damn well engineered specifically for this, you can absolutely guarantee it'll shatter like an egg if even slightly flexed. I'm looking at you, plastic decorative things on jackets or whatnot. You will crack and crumble away as if you were made of sugar.

When I recently bought some snowshoes, after several tests I opted to go for the newer aluminum style ones. I had the options of getting cheaper ones made in the USA or China, or ones made in Canada. Guess which ones I got, and guess which ones haven't had even the slightest problem, even when snowshoeing for hours in -40 weather. I can't say for certain whether the USA or China ones would survive as well, but I figured I had a significantly better chance with the Canadian ones. The single only blemish on them so far is a warble in the plastic material between the aluminum tubing, where a branch slipped through there and snagged. Wrenching that thing around trying to get it un-caught at about -30 didn't leave even the slightest crack, or even discolour the pattern on the surface surprisingly. I had figured for sure I would have done serious damage. GV brand snowshoes... I may not be familiar with many other brands, but this is a brand I now trust to last.

Long story short, you want something to last in -40 or below, you need it to be designed by people living and experiencing -40 and below.

Re:Design (3, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 2 years ago | (#38617212)

I've only been to Canada twice. One time it was bastard cold, the other it was fucking freezing. And I originate from Yorkshire, so I'm not soft like them London twats who shut up shop if an inch of sodding snow falls, and then it's all over the news that the country has ground to a halt. Shandy drinking ponces.

Where were we? Oh yes:

What does a Canadian do when it gets to -30? He starts to shiver a bit.

What does a Canadian do when it gets to -40? He thinks about putting a sweater on.

Re:Design (2)

Corf (145778) | more than 2 years ago | (#38615228)

I sure don't. My comment was just as much an excuse to post that video as to contribute relevant discourse. But I put in a number of years in the bicycle industry. The better component manufacturers [lhthomson.com] also do things for the aerospace industry; conditions fluctuating between sea level and a few dozen thousand feet probably do a number on equipment as well. The stuff is also likely a mite simpler and easier to re-engineer (if necessary) than a gas analyzer shed.

Have a look at some of the photos [facebook.com] that Hanebrink has posted. Seems to me like they know a thing or two about testing. It's in a wind tunnel, presumably a refrigerated one.

If I had to guess, I'd figure the trickiest bit would be coming up with chain lube and bearing grease that weren't completely useless... and replacing a broken chain while wearing heavily insulated gloves.

Re:Design (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38615600)

If I had to guess, I'd figure the trickiest bit would be coming up with chain lube and bearing grease that weren't completely useless... and replacing a broken chain while wearing heavily insulated gloves.

http://www.carbondrivesystems.com/

Re:Design (1)

CaptSlaq (1491233) | more than 2 years ago | (#38614958)

Unrelated, but damn that kid can bomb.

Re:Design (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38614510)

I'd also question the assertion that the frame has no seams, unless it is cast or MIM or the like. If so, I can't figure how that would be an advantage over a traditional butted or welded Al frame.

"Simple brakes" is also an hilarious callout, to describe what are likely off the shelf cable pulled calipers not significantly different in design from every bike in stock at Wal-Mart.

Re:Design (1)

yodleboy (982200) | more than 2 years ago | (#38614970)

if you click "simple brakes" in the image, it explains they are used instead of hydraulic brakes (yes they do make them for mountain bikes) which might have issues w/ fluid freezing. So, yes they are "simple" in comparison to alternatives. Maybe they should have said mechanical. I wonder if they could have just gotten some antifreeze to the right viscosity and used it as a brake fluid.

Re:Design (1)

M. Baranczak (726671) | more than 2 years ago | (#38615168)

I'd also question the assertion that the frame has no seams, unless it is cast or MIM or the like. If so, I can't figure how that would be an advantage over a traditional butted or welded Al frame.

I think they're talking about the tubes that the frame is made from. See under "seamless": http://sheldonbrown.com/gloss_sa-o.html [sheldonbrown.com]

"Simple brakes" is also an hilarious callout, to describe what are likely off the shelf cable pulled calipers not significantly different in design from every bike in stock at Wal-Mart.

Well, yeah. That's the point. Cable-actuated brakes are reliable, and when they do break, they're much easier to fix in the field than hydraulic brakes. They don't have quite as much stopping power as hydraulics, but for a mostly flat ride, that won't be a problem.

Re:Design (5, Insightful)

jpapon (1877296) | more than 2 years ago | (#38614524)

I imagine she'll have several chains and gears. Besides, I doubt ice will do much damage at the speeds she'll be going. Not to mention that chain and sprockets can actually be very strong (see chainsaws). The cold might make them brittle, but I imagine they've chosen appropriate materials.

Re:Design (1)

idji (984038) | more than 2 years ago | (#38614912)

she has 24 gears.

Re:Design (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 2 years ago | (#38617946)

The problem isn't with pieces breaking, but with being fouled by ice. Ride a mountain bike in the mud and you will have such problems.

Re:Design (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38615046)

Not the first people to winterise a mountain bike. Look up the Iditabike [google.com] race.

Re:Design (2)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#38615266)

Just a casual look at the picture of the bike makes me really wonder about the chain and sprockets on the back. They are totally exposed, and very low to the ground. Seems like they would be damaged on a chunk of ice pretty quickly.

Sometimes ease of accessibility trumps protection. Once on a bike tour, my riding partner snapped her chain and the loose chain got hung up in her chain guard. Normally a broken chain would be a 5 minute fix, we had a chain tool and some spare links. But it turns out that her chain cover screws were completely rusted tight - we stripped the screw heads trying to get them off.

Fortunately, a passing motorist had a hacksaw so we just cut off the chain guard mounts, then it was an easy fix after that.

For the snow bike, they may have decided that the extra weight and complexity of a chain guard that could cover a derailleur shifted chain wasn't worth it, and valued quick access to the chain over protection. It's already a 40lb bike.

Well done BBC (1)

martin (1336) | more than 2 years ago | (#38614492)

For keeping childrens TV interesting and alive and keeping the spirit of this long live tv programme going for over 53 years!

this is a prime children's tv program doing a challenge to raise money for a charity called sport relief

Well done and we wish Helen God speed

Re:Well done BBC (1)

dadioflex (854298) | more than 2 years ago | (#38614650)

We? As in you and the mouse in your pocket?

Seamless? (3, Informative)

Sez Zero (586611) | more than 2 years ago | (#38614504)

The frame isn't seamless, the tubing that makes up the frame is seamless. The tubes join in distinct seams.

After reading about and looking at it, it just looks like bike with fat tires.

Re:Seamless? (3, Informative)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#38614588)

Actually it looks like an old Tote Goat [wikipedia.org] . (I can't believe there is a Wikipedia entry for those things....)

Re:Seamless? (1)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | more than 2 years ago | (#38615276)

(I can't believe there is a Wikipedia entry for those things....)

This is the internet; one man's lack of interest (or even disgust) is another man's fetish ;-)

Re:Seamless? (1)

SockPuppetOfTheWeek (1910282) | more than 2 years ago | (#38614590)

Well, it was a special deal - the tubes themselves were guaranteed to be seamless, and if she let them put just a few seams where the tubes joined, it was like getting 1/4 of the bike for free.

solo? (1)

spidercoz (947220) | more than 2 years ago | (#38614528)

she's gonna die

Re:solo? (3, Informative)

digitig (1056110) | more than 2 years ago | (#38614766)

Not solo. The summary doesn't say she's doing it solo, and the article tells you that she's one of a pair doing it.

Re:solo? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38614770)

One thing I've learned from cyclists is that they know so much more than we do. That's why, for instance, in Oregon there was a large effort to pass a law making it so that cyclists don't have to obey traffic stops -- their judgment about if they need to stop at intersections render stop lights and signs superfluous for them, and waste their time. I am quite sure she'll not only succeed, but have many great lessons to teach the people at stations near the south pole before they strap her to an iceberg and push her out to sea.

Re:solo? (3, Interesting)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#38615352)

One thing I've learned from cyclists is that they know so much more than we do. That's why, for instance, in Oregon there was a large effort to pass a law making it so that cyclists don't have to obey traffic stops -- their judgment about if they need to stop at intersections render stop lights and signs superfluous for them, and waste their time. I am quite sure she'll not only succeed, but have many great lessons to teach the people at stations near the south pole before they strap her to an iceberg and push her out to sea.

Really? I hadn't heard about that, that sounds like an excellent law.

You trust car drivers, who are in a closed, partially sound proof box with large vertical obstructions in their field of view to be able to make that judgement when their car hood keeps them 4 - 5 feet behind the intersection, but you don't trust a cyclist who has a clear field of view and sense of hearing who is 18" from the intersection when he approaches to make the same decision?

Often when I'm biking to an intersection, a car will pass me in the last 5 or 10 feet to the intersection, slow down, and proceed through the intersection before I even reach the stopping point. Did that driver really look carefully to decide if it was safe to go? If he did, then why do you think that I couldn't make that same decision in the same amount of time,even if I don't come to a complete stop? Plus, by not coming to a complete stop and unclipping from my pedals, I get through the intersection faster, so the approaching car from the side doesn't need to wait as long for me to clear it.

A bike loses significant momentum when he comes to a full stop, and loses further time when he has to clip in again to proceed, *and* he has much more to lose if he makes the wrong judgement - if a car pulls out in front of a cyclist, the worst he'll face is some scratched paint. If a cyclist misjudges and pulls out in front of a car, he risks serious injury or death.

Re:solo? (3, Insightful)

LordLimecat (1103839) | more than 2 years ago | (#38617970)

Rule of driving: Never assume that the other person will act in a safe manner. Because one of these days during the next 50 years of your driving life, they wont, and you will come out much better if you are prepared.

Re:solo? (1)

Convector (897502) | more than 2 years ago | (#38615608)

I feel certain that nobody at the south pole will be pushing anything out to sea, since it's over 1000 km away.

Re:solo? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38616566)

It's worth the effort.

Does anyone else find this pointless and idiotic? (0)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 2 years ago | (#38614572)

Or is it just me? I guess if she fails, she can go back to teaching tap dancing.... Oh, wait. We're back to that pointless thing again.

Remind me again how this person merits any newsworthiness?

Re:Does anyone else find this pointless and idioti (1)

scharkalvin (72228) | more than 2 years ago | (#38614632)

Not any more silly than the team that wanted to ski down Mt. Everest.

Re:Does anyone else find this pointless and idioti (2)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38614708)

Maybe, but this is also much, much less awesome.

Re:Does anyone else find this pointless and idioti (1)

Tyrannosaur (2485772) | more than 2 years ago | (#38616956)

That's *awesome!!* *I* want to ski down Mt. Everest!

Re:Does anyone else find this pointless and idioti (2)

cptdondo (59460) | more than 2 years ago | (#38614688)

Huh?! "Because it's there."

Don't you ever want to know anything about the world outside of your mom's basement?

I'm doing the Bataan Death March http://www.bataanmarch.com/ [bataanmarch.com] - me and a few thousand other people doing something utterly pointless. Just because we want to.

Re:Does anyone else find this pointless and idioti (1)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 2 years ago | (#38617154)

I'm the first one on board the "Because it's there!" trip, but in this case, I'm less impressed. What's next - first trip to the South Pole in a Unicycle? Walking backwards? While doing a three-legged race?

Do it because you want to, not because you want to get your name in a record book by altering some small part of the original record.

Yes it is idiotic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38614788)

I spent quite a few years working in the arctic. Every year we would have 'adventurers' trying to get to the North Pole. Usually they didn't make it. Sometimes they had to be rescued at great expense to the taxpayer.

The only group we had much respect for were a group of Norse (iirc) who tried to ski from Greenland to Resolute. They did just about everything right except that they got lost on Ellesmere Island. Lucky for them they ran into the first RCMP patrol in thirty years; otherwise they were in big trouble.

The person on the bicycle probably won't be as lucky.

Re:Yes it is idiotic (1)

cptdondo (59460) | more than 2 years ago | (#38614884)

Without knowing her preparations and physical ability, and the equipment she has with her it's hard to assess if it's "idiotic" or "inspiring".

However, given that she's starting with a significant amount of resources she may be OK. We'll see in 20 days. Best of luck to her.

Re:Does anyone else find this pointless and idioti (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38614864)

Slashdot regularly reports on the annual Darwin Awards, this seems to be a good attempt...

I salute her other achievement though, kayaking the length of the Amazon is a feat of endurance, and a kayyak is an appropriate means of travel on a river..

However traveling in the Antartic on bicycle is just stupid. How does she expect to cross crevasses, or carry enough food?

Right time of the year but... (3, Funny)

It doesn't come easy (695416) | more than 2 years ago | (#38614608)

Doubt it will catch on as a summer vacation thing to do.

Re:Right time of the year but... (1)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#38616594)

It is summer there.

FAKE (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38614614)

This is a fake.

And remember, if she makes it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38614696)

Who cares?!?

Why has no one else spotted this... (1)

g0bshiTe (596213) | more than 2 years ago | (#38614698)

FTFA

The Blue Peter presenter Helen Skelton

I thought she was female. How is it she has a blue peter?

Re:Why has no one else spotted this... (2)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 2 years ago | (#38614758)

She just presents the blue peter, it's not actually hers.

rule 30 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38614850)

hey, she's cute...

Re:Why has no one else spotted this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38616572)

er...

"Blue Peter" is a UK childrens television programme.... (The world's longest running childrens television programme if wikipedia is to be believed - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_peter)

So basically she's a children's TV presenter, and the expedition is pretty much supported by the BBC.

Solo??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38614720)

Uh, there's a dude with her.

Hey Helen... (2)

htomc42 (2547444) | more than 2 years ago | (#38614748)

If you happen to come across any ammo cans out there, would you please sign my id to the paper log inside? thanks!

Why Compare her to Scott? (2)

samoht (101985) | more than 2 years ago | (#38614752)

Do they expect that she won't make it?

If it's a well planned, modern thinking, expedition, would seem to make more sense to compare her to Amundsen [wikipedia.org] ...

Scott appears to have been very brave, but he also seems to have been stuck in the century old Royal Navy mindset of the nobility of man hauling during polar exploration. Amundsen seems to have studied the problem of polar exploration from a very young age and put this knowledge gained into designing a successful solution. He got there first, got there faster, and didn't lose a single man.

--
Terra Nova - a play about the race to the South Pole [genesiantheatre.com.au]

Explorer? (3, Insightful)

Dyinobal (1427207) | more than 2 years ago | (#38614762)

I dunno when I think explorer I don't think of these stunts. Sure they are difficult to accomplish but I don't see much actual exploration in them. Exploration would be charting some previously uncharted caves, exploring space (star trek style) or something else. This solo bike ride, is more stunt worthy, record book worthy but I don't think she will be remembered as an explorer.

Re:Explorer? (2)

quietwalker (969769) | more than 2 years ago | (#38614986)

Gotta agree here. Not that what she's attempting isn't tough, but it's not being an explorer. If that was the case, then I'm an explorer, the first time I drove my pickup from my new home to work. That trek had never been made before, in that vehicle.

It reminds me of the art scene where the quality of a painting is less important than whether or not it was made with saliva and blood, or framed on a toilet seat lid.

At least it's all for charity.

Not biking the whole way (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38614786)

The article doesn't say she is biking the whole way, only part of the way. She's also skiing and sail-skiing.

Rescue costs? (2)

PetiePooo (606423) | more than 2 years ago | (#38614822)

And who will be footing the costs of the rescue effort when things inevitably go pear-shared on this misguided publicity-hound?

I'm just sayin'... be mindful of where your donations go.

Re:Rescue costs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38615152)

If that is the first thing you think of, you are the one with problems.

There probably won't be a rescue, some people are ok with that risk.

There are other researchers down there, she can walk or ski for miles, there is plenty of fresh water everywhere, people can survive for days with rationing a little food (although it is harder in the cold)... it is cool, but I think she will be prepared for a lot of different scenarios.

Re:Rescue costs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38616302)

there is plenty of fresh water everywhere

As long as you have a heat source to melt it. There have been situations in Antarctic expeditions before where fuel shortages or poor rationing of fuel lead to dehydration.

Hanebrink ice bikes (3, Informative)

smellsofbikes (890263) | more than 2 years ago | (#38614832)

Hanebrink's been building these bikes for almost two decades, although I've only seen one in person. These days Dan's making an electric-assist version [fortunehanebrink.com] of the bike. They have a bare minimum of plastic parts, which break in the cold. I don't know what he's using for tires these days but his first run were apparently done using knobby ATV tires that he'd ground the knobs off, which he described as a fairly unpleasant process. They also have a somewhat complex geartrain to give reasonable heel clearance from the chain, as well as reasonable speeds across a wide terrain profile.

Re:Hanebrink ice bikes (1)

pz (113803) | more than 2 years ago | (#38616328)

Not sure about ATV tires per se, but shaving the top few mm of tread off of auto tires for racing purposes is standard stuff. There are machines specifically built for it that are not unlike large lathes. I can't imagine that ATV tires would be that different, so if someone describes it as an unpleasant process, they might not be using the right tools for the job.

What's the point? (2)

Lucas123 (935744) | more than 2 years ago | (#38614858)

I don't mean to come off as too cynical, but I mean, I can see being the first person to hike to the South Pole, fly to the South Pole -- heck even snowmobile to the to the Pole. But, what the heck is the purpose of biking to the Pole -- simply because it's yet another form of transportation? Maybe it's just me. I don't get it.

Re:What's the point? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38615366)

I agree. Now, if she was pogo-sticking or space-hoppering, that'd be a different kettle of fish.

Re:What's the point? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38615450)

It's Blue Peter and it's for charity?

I don't understand these stunts (2)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 2 years ago | (#38614876)

I can understand doing something really difficult with a lot of preparation. Bike across America? Cool. Walk across America? Cool. Crawl across America? Moonwalk across America? Walk on your hands across America? That goes beyond an interesting challenge to just bizarre.

I can understand sailing across an ocean. I can even understand doing it solo. But trying to set a record for smallest boat or rowing? That just seems like trying to push beyond difficult to stupidly dangerous.

I understand doing something for the challenge but there has to be a screw loose to do it for notoriety. Yeah, yeah, nobody will remember my name after I'm dead and she'll get her name in the history books whether she survives or not. In fact, she'll probably be remembered better if she does fail. Amelia Earhart surely owes a good deal of her current name recognition to not just how she lived but how she died. I guess if fame's that important to you, have at it.

Well it is summer down there (1)

Tangential (266113) | more than 2 years ago | (#38614972)

I'm waiting for the follow-on where she does it in the winter.

Skiing would be easier (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38614988)

She should stick with the tried and proven method of cross country skiing. Biking is a lot less energy efficient especially given all of the friction caused by the dry powdery snow. This is a big deal because exerting more energy burns more calories and creates more sweat. All that dampness unless vented properly will make a person miserable. More food and water will be needed than normal. Biking into the wind is also a lot harder than skiing would be, plus it's uphill all the way. If it was packed snow and ice most of the way she might be okay. I've mountain biked through the mountains before in the middle of winter mostly on snowmobile tracks. Even with fat tires there will be some sinking which amounts to a lot of wasted energy. Skis also provide more protection from falling into a crevasse at least the ones with smaller openings. Unless she's tried something like the Admundsen Scott Southpole Trek before she's in an unfamiliar and very hostile environment. I don't think she knows what she's getting herself into.

How does the bike taste . . . ? (2)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 2 years ago | (#38614992)

I mean, usually when these quests go wrong, the adventurers eat the sled dogs. So is she going to eat her bike?

Gears need a redesign (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38615214)

I've smashed several rear derailleurs when mountain biking. In many ways they are great. They are easy to maintain and easy to swap if they break but they are totally exposed and originally designed for cycling on roads. I wouldn't use them on a trip to the south pole. (If I really had to go there I would use dogs but that's another issue.)

Re:Gears need a redesign (1)

unimacs (597299) | more than 2 years ago | (#38616236)

Internal gearing has become more and more popular for offroad use but in this case I think simplicity is more important. It's easy to replace a broken derailleur and I don't think she's going to be pedaling through rock gardens or doing monster drops.

What's this going to cost us if she fails? (1)

trikster2 (23745) | more than 2 years ago | (#38615298)

When/if things go wrong....

Who pays for the rescue (or body recovery) effort?

Helen Skelton (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38615338)

This is an amazing name. That is all.

Who Really Foots the Bill? (1)

Lawrence_Bird (67278) | more than 2 years ago | (#38615752)

So.. who is paying for her rescue? And are they volunteers who are willing to risk their life to save some chick out on a whim?

Re:Who Really Foots the Bill? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38616616)

So.. who is paying for her rescue? And are they volunteers who are willing to risk their life to save some chick out on a whim?

Yeah ... they are. All guys, too. Have you SEEN [google.ca] her?

I routinely cycle in the snow and -20F weather (2)

unimacs (597299) | more than 2 years ago | (#38615922)

I live in Minnesota and ride 6 miles to work year round in all weather and have gone winter camping where we slept under the stars for a weekend in -15F. I'm very intrigued by the design of this bike and would LOVE to try one here. Typical mountain bikes are a ton of work to pedal through even a few inches of snow, - at least the type of snow we get in these parts.

Somebody has already mentioned the Surly Pugsley and while it's a fine machine it has its limitations. If the snow isn't fairly firm, it's worse than a conventional bike. You end up pushing 4 inches of tire through the snow instead of 2.

An ultra-wide, small diameter tire like the ones they're using make a lot of sense. More float without all the extra weight of a large diameter tire. They mentioned the aerodynamics of the bike but it doesn't look like they've done much in that department other than adding aero bars.

Clothing and supplies will be a huge deal. She's going be traveling mostly under her own power and working hard. Her clothing needs to be able to wick sweat effectively while still keeping the wind out. She'll also need a lot of water and need to consume a lot of calories. Does she have a support team supplying her?

Good Luck to her !

Where's /. user "icebike"? (1)

Maow (620678) | more than 2 years ago | (#38616216)

Where's /. user "icebike"? I need his / her thoughts on this.

I've seen this before... (1)

atari2600a (1892574) | more than 2 years ago | (#38617460)

It's a Honda monkey bike reproduction, except gutted & made out of aluminum instead of steel...

Antarctica != Playground (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38617484)

Now we are allowing stunts on Antarctica? This annoys me, do it somewhere else, Antarctica is a very important continent for science and the future of the earth and beyond, it is not a fucking playground. And to anyone who says "it's for charity", you are an idiot, it is a fucking stunt. Plain and simple.

Yes but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38618478)

...who will be the first Black Lesbian to drag a cinderblock there?

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