Britain's Maria Leijerstram becomes first person to cycle to South Pole

35-year-old from Wales arrived at destination at 1am this morning

by Simon_MacMichael   December 27, 2013  

Maria ICEland © Ryan Edy

Great Britain’s Maria Leijerstram has become the first person to cycle to the South Pole.

At around midnight UK time last night, the 35-year-old from Wales found herself just 4km from her destination.

However, she had to wait for permission to enter the zone around the Pole itself, because a flight was due to depart.

Leijerstram, who used a recumbent ‘fat’ bike for her record attempt, tweeted: “So close I can almost touch the SP!

Can't believe I have almost made it. My experiment worked!”

At around 1am, her nine-day, 400-mile journey over, she added: “First person in the world to cycle the entire way to the South Pole. I peddled [sic] every metre!

“I did it I did it I did it!!!!!!

“Just had a tour of the South Pole station and got my passport stamped- how exciting!”

She concluded: “Now it is time for bed!”

The expedition, which has been two years in the planning, has been filmed by ITV for a documentary that will be screened next month.

Here’s a video from her website that gives you some idea of the scale of the challenge she faced.

Two men, Daniel Burton on a regular fat bike, and Juan Menendez Granados, who is fully unsupported, are also currently cycling towards the South Pole, though even if they make it, Leijerstram will always have the distinction of being the first person to cycle to the Pole.

Which has us wondering here in the road.cc office – we can’t think of any major achievement of exploration on this scale in which a woman, rather than a man, has been the first person to do it? We’re happy to be corrected, though.

18 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

Road.cc wrote:
Leijerstram will always have the distinction of being the first person to get there by bike.
It's a trike not a bike. So technically she's the first to cycle to the pole but Burton or Menendez will be the first to do it by bike.

posted by Initialised [244 posts]
27th December 2013 - 11:20

35 Likes

Bike, trike? so what, a magnificent ride.

antonio

antonio's picture

posted by antonio [1073 posts]
27th December 2013 - 12:13

23 Likes

Supported, unsupported, bicycle, tricycle, whatever.

Quite an achievement whichever way you look at it. Chapeau! to her, and hope the other two riders make it in safely. Applause

TDL

tourdelound's picture

posted by tourdelound [94 posts]
27th December 2013 - 12:50

34 Likes

An amazing achievement, no doubt it will be completely ignored by the mainstream media.

I must confess to certain reservations about the 'all the way to the South Pole' part - if I get helicopter-dropped 100m below the summit of Everest and climb 'all the way' to the top then technically I have climbed to the top but it's not quite the same is it? - but still, I'm not sure I could do it myself and she has my admiration.

Boardman CX Team '14 | Cannondale CAAD8 '12 (written off, SMIDSY) | Scott Sportster '08

Gizmo_'s picture

posted by Gizmo_ [1099 posts]
27th December 2013 - 13:14

21 Likes

Leaving the slight debate about definitions to one side, it is a great achievement. Chapeau!

posted by NickK123 [83 posts]
27th December 2013 - 14:19

20 Likes

Diana nyad?

posted by MNgraveur [45 posts]
27th December 2013 - 14:58

28 Likes

I am wondering where this cycle ride began. It is more than 400 miles from the South Pole to any point you could reach by ship. So it seems this is an interesting adventure holiday, but not much more. It appears to be 400 miles across the Antarctic plateau from a helicopter drop off. No more random than doing the last degree I suppose, but I suspect the South Pole is pretty depressing. A bit like arriving at an industrial estate outside middlesborough in winter.

B

posted by birzzles [63 posts]
27th December 2013 - 22:35

20 Likes

“First person in the world to cycle the entire way to the South Pole".

The entire way?

posted by offshore_dave [49 posts]
27th December 2013 - 23:18

18 Likes

Yes, the entire way. She cycled the entire way of her 400 mile route.

Lots of negativity here. 400 miles. Not quite lejog but not many posting are up to it. I wonder how much negativity is because she's a girl?

Super job Maria.

posted by bendertherobot [469 posts]
28th December 2013 - 9:45

29 Likes

.

posted by bendertherobot [469 posts]
28th December 2013 - 12:10

9 Likes

My understanding is that a valid ride has to start from the edge of the Antarctic continent, not the ice-shelf but this appears to have upset the traditionalists. The fact that she chose a shorter, steeper route up the glacier onto the plateau seems to have paid dividends - as well as the inspired choice of a trike which enabled her to ride in high winds which would have made riding a bike impossible. Apparently there's a TV programme due the end of January.

Make mine an Italian with Campagnolo on the side

posted by monty dog [405 posts]
28th December 2013 - 12:28

31 Likes

monty dog wrote:
My understanding is that a valid ride has to start from the edge of the Antarctic continent, not the ice-shelf but this appears to have upset the traditionalists. .

Errr... Who says?

The UCI? The Antarctica Cycling Federation? The RSPCA? The International Pedantry Federation? The United Nations Commission for Denigrating Those Who Achieve Something We Couldn't Do Ourselves?

She has done something nobody else has ever done, THAT is what sets a standard.

Grizzerly

posted by Grizzerly [185 posts]
28th December 2013 - 13:06

13 Likes

Don't shoot the messenger - plenty of discussion on other forums if you want to go looking for it. I've been following this for a few weeks since Maria, David and Juan happened to set-out independently at much the same time to achieve the same goal.

Make mine an Italian with Campagnolo on the side

posted by monty dog [405 posts]
28th December 2013 - 13:51

10 Likes

Well done to her what a fantastic achievement. Applause

I know that I couldn't do anything like that so perhaps I should be knocking her efforts like others on here Confused

FATBEGGARONABIKE's picture

posted by FATBEGGARONABIKE [645 posts]
28th December 2013 - 17:48

14 Likes

Gizmo_ wrote:
An amazing achievement, no doubt it will be completely ignored by the mainstream media.

I must confess to certain reservations about the 'all the way to the South Pole' part - if I get helicopter-dropped 100m below the summit of Everest and climb 'all the way' to the top then technically I have climbed to the top but it's not quite the same is it? - but still, I'm not sure I could do it myself and she has my admiration.

The chances of getting dropped off by helicopter anywhere near the summit are very slim indeed. And, of course, the media report would say that you climbed 100 metres. So everyone would quite correctly assume that it was an utter travesty of an attempt.

Analogies are always fun though Wink

posted by bendertherobot [469 posts]
28th December 2013 - 19:39

6 Likes

Colour me impressed and slightly jealous - is a brilliant, astounding achievement. Unreserved chapeau. Applause

posted by Argos74 [322 posts]
29th December 2013 - 9:02

11 Likes

Don't worry the UCI will probably wade in and define exactly where the start point had to be to count as "entire way." All of our problems will be solved!

posted by jarredscycling [457 posts]
29th December 2013 - 17:57

7 Likes

My general attitude (to all those 'sportives' for example) is it doesn't really count as a bike ride unless it starts at your own front door. To me, driving or using some other motorised transport to the start point is like driving to the gym.

Though it might be a bit harsh to apply that to this case.

(And, as with all these sorts of things, mountain climinbing, round-the-world yachting, etc, I neither feel like singing her praises nor sneering - she set herself a personal challenge, and she accomplished it, fair enough, and it makes an interesting story, but, for me, to truly merit 'celebrating' an act has to not only be difficult but should also improve the world in some way, which I don't see any of this sort of 'adventuring' as doing.)

posted by FluffyKittenofT... [873 posts]
29th December 2013 - 21:12

8 Likes