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Solo Explorer Begins Bicycle Journey To South Pole 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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