For the average cyclist, the first falling snowflakes of winter are the ceremonial end to biking season. Helmets and the open road are traded in for less adventurous stationary bikes and spin classes. While we try to avoid freezing temperatures, snow and ice these are the exact conditions that get adventure cyclist Helen Skelton, 28, fired up. Skelton has recently become the first person ever to bike as part of an expedition to Antarctica’s South Pole. She snow kited 329 miles, snow shoed 68 miles and biked 103 miles to complete her 500-mile journey from her base camp to the bottom of the earth, and she did it in 18 days. Through her 500-mile trek, she endured some of the harshest elements on the planet. With an average temperature during this time of year between -15 and -50 degrees Celsius, it was cold to say the least. Besides the bitter cold, hurricane force winds, seemingly impossible cliffs of ice and deep snow were other obstacles in her path to the record books. These extraordinary conditions were not overcome with your typical 10-speed—she needed an extraordinary bike—which is exactly what Dan Hanebrink and Kane Fortune of Hanebrink Bikes provided. The tires of her bike were flat and tubeless to avoid being punctured by ice. To allow her to ride through the snow they also needed to be large and, at 20 inches high, eight inches in diameter and eight pounds apiece, they certainly were. She was also able to adjust the tire pressure, depending on the conditions in front of her. The “snow bike” also came equipped with large rear brakes and a leather saddle. The frame of the bike was designed in a wind tunnel to be as aerodynamic as possible. The bike weighed a total of 40 pounds, just 10 pounds more than the average mountain bike. “To the untrained eye the bike looks quite different from your average one,” Kane Fortune told BBC News. “It looks like Batman’s bike.” Though an impressive machine, the more impressive machine was Skelton’s drive and determination, which pushed her through such harsh conditions. “My body hurts in so many different places. Mentally I’m exhausted and I’ve only washed once in the last 30 days, so to be finally standing at the Pole feels incredible,” Skelton told the BBC. Maybe if this 28-year-old can ride across Antarctica, you can brave a little dust of snow and get onto your bike before spring.
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