British woman aims to be first to cycle to South Pole

Glaciers, -40C temperatures and 100mph winds make it the winter ride from hell

Winter cycling usually means clipping on some mudguards and dodging the odd patch of black ice, but one British explorer is hoping to be the first person to cycle 800km to the South Pole.


Maria Leijerstam has spent two years preparing for the mission, which will see her tackle glaciers, crevasse-riven ice sheets and winds up to 100mph on a specially designed rugged recumbent three-wheeler.  

The bike, made by Ice Trike in Cornwall and fitted with 4.5in wide tyres, may offer an aero advantage over the challenges from two men who have opted for snow-ready fat bikes. They are tackling the challenge on a different route.

Leijerstam, who runs coaching and events company Multisport Wales, is going through the final stages of her training before the challenge, which is scheduled to start on 8 December and finish on 7 January.

Prep has involved turbo training sessions at -20C in an industrial freezer, cycling across a Siberian lake and visiting glaciers and mountains in Iceland and Norway to test kit. More prosaically it’s meant tackling the dunes on Merthyr Mawr beach near her home on the bike to boost fitness.

She said: “Even though it’s not snow, the characteristics of sand are very similar and I’m delighted to say I managed to cycle up one of the dunes with 90kg weight on my cycle.

“It shows my legs are getting stronger.”


ITV are making a documentary about the adventure. Leijerstam is still hunting sponsorship.