Friday, 27 December 2013

Maria claims two world titles

I've done it I've done it, I've done it! Maria claimed two world records this morning as the first person to cycle to the South Pole from the edge of the continent in 10 days beating all other speed records.

“Her success was down to meticulous planning, super fitness both physically and mentally and pure determination,” said her mother Adrianne Leijerstam.

“From the time she was 12 years old and announced she wanted to be an astronaut, Maria has always been an adventurer. We are thrilled she has made it in such good time.”

Maria, a former management consultant, who now runs Multisport Wales describes Antartica as vicious. Her journey has not been without its problems. At one point the sweat on the inside of her boots froze making keeping her feet warm incredibly difficult.

Snow drifts, complete white outs and high winds marred her passage but even so she was able to cycle the whole distance on her three wheeled recumbent PolarCycleTM 

A two year planning and development programme by the White Ice Cycle team produced the concept for this unique PolarCycleTM   that was then manufactured by Inspired Cycle Engineering of Cornwall.
Roald Amundsen, was the first person to reach the South Pole in 1911 using 2 metre long skis which made crevasse crossing easier for him and he also had assistance from dogs. He was five weeks ahead of a British party led by Robert Falcon Scott as part of the Terra Nova Expedition. Amundsen and his team returned safely to their base, and later learned that Scott and his four companions had died on their return journey.

Thursday, 26 December 2013

13 km to go! 7pm Boxing Day, 2013

Wow! Just heard that Maria is only 13 kilometres away from claiming her world first title as the first person to cycle to the South Pole in just ten days!

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Christmas Day in Antartica

Christmas Day for Maria means another day of hard cycling. Antartica is vicious but beautiful says Maria's as she spends Christmas Day in the coldest place on earth.
Her cycling record has been an amazing 81km per day and on a continent where it never gets dark she has spent as little time as possible sleeping and the maximum time she can cycling.
Sudden changes in weather patterns bring total white outs and fierce winds constantly blast her progress.
Undaunted, Maria is determined to reach the South Pole within the next three days.

Monday, 23 December 2013

Well over half way

Maria completed her greatest mileage on December 22 83kms in 11 hours.

The weather was not so good the next day, as strong wind and snow drifts were slowing things down.  Her knee has being giving her some problems particularly when she stops and starts again but she is managing it as well as she can with plenty of pain killers and hopefully it will hold out until she gets to the South Pole.

Maria is well over half way to the Pole which is a fantastic achievement and she has completed the most difficult sections, lets hope that heavy snow does not drift in as this would be her biggest challenge going forward.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Top of the glacier

Amazing! Maria has just conquered the most feared part of her expedition - the Leverett Glacier!
It's only day three but this mammoth climb was the steepest part of her journey.
She set off this morning in white out conditions so bad that she could not see anything in front of her and had to navigate with her GPS.
Visibility improved later in the day and she then focused on the steepest part of the climb from 2200 metres to 2900 at the top. She has managed to cycle all of the way so far on her amazing cycle.
She now has to cycle 500k on the polar plateau to her destination.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Just landed in Antartica

Maria has landed at the Novo Russian Airbase in Antartica. She reports that conditions are good and it was amazing landing on a sheet of ice.
The Russian airbase is basic but the people are very friendly and she is enjoying the Russian food. She is trialing her polar cycle over the next few days while she waits for her next flight that will take her to her starting point.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Flying tomorrow

Just heard that Maria is due to fly tomorrow December 11 on a Russian cargo plane from Cape Town to the Alci airbase in Antartica. She had to assemble her bike before flying. Here she is pictured at the expedition base with her bike all packed up ready to go. Don't forget to put on those ten layers of clothing before you leave Maria!

En route to Cape Town

Last minute packing day was hectic. Spent hours wrapping batteries, camera, GPS and all such sensitive essentials in a good layer of thinsulate. The leads had to be specially well wrapped as they can snap in extreme cold temperatures. Apart from the bike box that was packed by Friday I went through my clothes, again and again, trying to discard anything I did not really need. I will only be washing with wet wipes for 20 days!
The last mammoth effort before leaving home was loading the massive bike box on the roof of my car
for the journey to Heathrow. We made it in good time but spent two hours persuading Virgin to accept my oversized bike box. Finally with the help of Meghan, Wayne's daughter, we were off and up in the sky on the way to Cape Town. This is just the first lap of a ten day journey to the start line.
A couple more days in Cape Town for kit checking and weigh in before taking the ex-military Hercules cargo plane to Novo on the edge of Antartica.
East Antartica has just been recorded as setting the record lowest temperature on earth at minus 95C by newly analysed satellite data. What a contrast to 30 degrees plus in Cape Town.
Arriving at Heathrow with my massive check in luggage