Tuesday, 10 May 2016

The Fat Biker

I have just come back from 5 days with the Fat Biker. Kate Leeming has affectionately become known to us as the 'Fat Biker' Of course she's not fat, its the bike that has extra fat tyres to make it stay on the snow.


The Fat Bike
It has been specially designed with a unique all wheel drive system, but we soon found out it will only ride on a rock hard snow surface.

She is with a camera man called Claudio, who records her every word and films her every pedal stoke. There is no escape as he also regularly shoves his camera inches away from your face and asks you what you think!


They are really both nice people and fun to be with, Kate, a driven visionary who was rapidly becoming more realistic and Claudio the 'gadget man' who takes every opportunity to get the shot and tell the story.

This trip to Greenland is supposed to be training for some expedition to cycle to the South Pole.

The cycle route from CNP up north and down towards Ittoqqortoormiit

A trailer made with my help just before the journey

Unfortunately the bike won't ride on snow, fat tyres or not. Any snow more than a few inches deep, just bogs it down making progress impossible, even on flat terrain.

Technical problems
The first day before the storm, we got about 10kms in 3 hours. The first 3kms ended up falling into a tide crack and the rest was a mixture of cycling, falling and pushing.

First fall
When we started properly after the storm, we got about 20 kms on hard surfaces due the the warm temperatures followed by a freeze. The next day after a camp we got the the Red House 20kms away. It took all day in the soft snow and she had to push the bike most of the way, arriving exhausted.

Making progress

Camp 1. We returned here by skidoo a day later to camp again
Many falls later

Last push up to the Red Huse
Making dinner in the Red House
I suggested to her that she may need to review her plan of a 400km cycle round north Jameson Land. She really wanted to cycle the length of Liverpool Land down to Ittoqqortoormiit, so we drove her up to the north the next day. This was also a disaster in the soft snow. She only got 7 or so kilometres taking most of the day, before we suggested she rethink. We even had a go on the bike ourselves. It was nearly impossible to move; the back wheel just skidded about. I don't know how she got so far.

Claudio with his new toy. The drone took amazing film.
Bike back on the sledge and cold hands
 We drove back down to our first camp near the top of Hurry Fjord where the hard snow started and the next day she made 50kms on the hard surface, the best so far.

Filming in Hurry Fjord
Buzzed by the drone
Good progress in Hurry Fjord
On the way to camp 4
It was my time to leave to go back to the UK so I handed over to Darren & Pete. I think I was able to pass on some advice to Kate in my time with her about camping skills, clothing etc. They soon hit soft snow again and are camping 20kms further on. We'll have to see how the story progresses.

Coming to take me home

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