(Correne Coetzer) Eric Larsen, who has skied twice before from coastal start points to the South Pole, has set a challenge for future Polar adventurers with his cycle attempt to the South Pole in the 2012-13 season. In December last year he started from Hercules Inlet on his Moonlander fatbike with panniers packed with food and fuel for about 2 weeks before he was to receive his first resupply.
The headwinds, sastrugi, drifts and the increased amount of climbing were slowing him down more than he thought they would and after 9 days and not enough progress, Eric decided to turn back to his start point.
The headwinds, incline and the sastrugi are still there, and nobody has cycled to the South Pole yet. Several cyclists now want to take on the challenge; two of them are Americans Daniel Burton and Todd Tueller. ExWeb caught up with Daniel to find out more about him and their plans.
Daniel was a computer programmer for 23 years. During that time he spent a lot of time sitting in front of a computer and not getting enough exercise, he says. "I had grown up being active. I spent a lot of summers hiking in the High Uintas. However it just got easy to be less and less active. Then his health deteriorated and he gained weight. "I panicked, thinking I might die early. So I got into mountain biking. It saved my life!"
"Then I got laid off. My wife says that I went into mid life crisis. I think I just decided I wanted to do something to help others. So I opened a bike store to help others get the health benefits of an active cycling lifestyle. For the past 5 years I have been focused on getting people out on bikes, and have been involved with the American Diabetes Association's Tour de Cure each year."
At the end of the year he is taking his Moonlander to Antarctica to inspire people to get out and be active and to raise money for the American Diabetes Association.
The game plan is to start cycling from the classic coastal start point, Hercules Inlet, to the Geographic South Pole (90°S), and then turn around and cycle back to Hercules Inlet. Daniel and Todd will be supported by two snowmobiles; one with a filmmaker, Michael Karr, and the other with an ANI guide. The snowmobiles will haul all their food, fuel and gear for the return journey. The total distance in a straight line is 2260km.
ExplorersWeb: What is your adventure / cold weather background?
Daniel: I lived in Fairbanks Alaska form about 3 months old to 3 years old. I don’t remember it, but I got frostbite on my ears, so my ears don’t handle the cold well.
Growing up I spent summers hiking in the High Unitas in Utah.
ExplorersWeb: You have followed Eric Larsen. What have you learned from his attempt? Why do you think would you be the first to cycle form the coast to the Pole?
Daniel: I think Eric proved that it can be done. I have talked with Mike Sharp at ALE about Eric’s trip. Mike seemed to think that biking was a very feasible trip, but the way to do it was with gear being pulled by snowmobile.
Eric made it about ¼ of the way in less than 9 days, but had only allocated 20 some days to complete the trip. We haven’t worked out all the details yet, but one of the parameters for our trip will be a longer time frame to complete the trip.
ExplorersWeb: Tell us about your cycle team mate please?
Daniel: Todd Tueller: Todd, tried to talk me into doing the RAAM (Race Across America) with him a couple of years ago. He rode the RAAM route on bike once, so he has proven that he can get out and ride all day long, day after day.
We have an Emmy Award winning producer, Michael Karr, who will be producing a documentary of our trip on one of the snowmobiles.
ExplorersWeb: Do you think, not being alone gives you a better chance to get to the Pole?
Daniel: When I decided to do this, for safety reasons I didn’t want to do it alone. However having two people on bikes gives us some redundancy. At least one of us, me, :-) will make it to the pole. At least I think it should double our odds. And it leaves open the opportunity for someone to be the first solo on bike. I think with the redundancy, the longer time frame, and lighter bikes we have an excellent chance of being successful.
ExplorersWeb: Will you modify your bikes? If yes, how?
Daniel: For the most part no. We will try and keep the bikes as light as possible.
ExplorersWeb: What clothes and in particular shoes/boots will you wear?
Daniel: I really don’t want to lose any toes to frostbite. So I am planning on using flat pedals. This will allow me to have nice warm boots. I have been looking at equipment lists from ALE for some of their ski expeditions, and will be basing my clothes on their recommendations.
ExplorersWeb: Do you have a mentor/trainer for this expedition? If yes, who?
Daniel: Not really. We will use ALE/ANI for expert advice, and we will get a guide through them.
ExplorersWeb: How does your training program look like for the rest of the year?
Daniel: I’m a biker. So I do a LOT of biking. In past years I have ridden 100 mile bike rides a couple times a week. I think physically I am in shape to make the trip. From my 200 and 300 mile trips I’ve learned that one of the hardest things to do is getting back on the saddle the next day after being sore from a 10+ hour bike ride the previous day. So toughing up the rear end before I go will be important.
We have some high mountains close to where I live that will get some good storms in early fall. This will give us a chance to do some training in some harsh conditions.
ExplorersWeb: Anything else?
Daniel: As I have searched the web for information about expeditions to the South Pole I have enjoyed reading the logs from other expeditions. However, I would like to see more data on the trips. I guess it is the computer nerd in me. Anyway I hope to proved more data, elevation profiles, GPS tracks, weather information, photos and videos.
Year of birth: 1963
Place of residence: Eagle Mountain, Utah
Work: Owner of Epic Biking. I always put Mountain Biker down as my occupation on my tax return. Next year I’ll probably put Polar Explorer as my occupation on my tax return.
Family: Wife and 4 kids. My youngest is 17.
Hobbies: Right now biking consumes all my time
Favorite music: I like the rock from the 70’s and early 80’s. But I have been teaching Spinning classes, and so I had to get more recent music. I have really learned to like the current popular music.
Favorite Food: Tai Curry, something with pineapple in it.
Latest read book: I’m not much of a book reader. I read the Steve Jobs biography. I have had several opportunities to meet him (I use to be a computer programmer) so it was nice to read about him. I read the Hunger Games series and the Harry Potter series. I have been trying for years to teach myself German, and have the Harry Potter books in German and will read those to try and learn German.
Latest Movie: I don‘t go out to movies. We buy movies when they come out on DVD and watch them that way.
Best adventure yet:
Not sure: I did several 50 mile hikes as a kid with my dad, and I have taken my son on a couple big hikes.
We did a handcart trek reenactment for a week, and then biked 300 miles back home afterwards.
The White Rim Trail in Canyonlands is always fun. 100 miles on mountain bike. I have done that a few times as a three day trip and a few times as a one day trip. We plan on doing it as a one night trip this summer.
3 top accomplishments in your life: I guess the only accomplishment that really matters is your family. I have great kids, but I think that my wife gets credit for that accomplishment.
Gateway port Punta Arenas, Chile, South America:
To ALE/ANI base camp, Union Glacier
(79° 45'S, 083° 14'W).
The Hercules Inlet route starts at 80°S and covers a distance of 1130 km in a straight line to the Geographic South Pole at 90°S.
1 nautical mile (nm) = 1.852 km
1 nm = 1.151 miles
1 knot = 1.852 km/h
1 degree of Latitude is 110 km / 60 nm / 70 miles
Sastrugi are hard snow bumps and can be as high as 10 feet.
This expedition (and other expeditions/ adventures/ projects with RSS feeds) can be followed in the live Dispatch stream at the Pythom App for iPhone/iPad and on Android as well as at ExplorersWeb.
ExplorersWeb Expedition List
ExWeb interview: Cycle to the South Pole, Eric Larsen's dream expedition
Eric Larsen's expedition ends
Polar Rules of Adventure
Daniel Burton's The South Pole Epic blog
The South Pole Epic on Facebook
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