Cyclist • Australia
“Despite the physical challenges, polar exploration is more a battle of mental resilience. This is where I think women may have an edge”
Dr. Kate Leeming is an expedition cyclist who has pedalled a distance greater than twice the Earth's circumference on her major journeys. Kate’s latest challenge Breaking the Cycle South Pole will result in the first bicycle crossing of the Antarctic continent via the South Pole. In 2013 she travelled to Svalbard, Norway to test herself and the world’s first all-wheel drive fatbike (12cm wide tyres) to see whether her dream of cycling across Antarctica was realistic. In 2016, she made the first bicycle journey in Northeast Greenland, testing polar fatbike No.2. The following year, she ventured to Arctic Canada to test herself and fatbike No.3. The Breaking the Cycle education initiative aims to inspire students to lead their schools and communities in making positive change by using Kate’s journeys as a source of innovation and creativity.
As an expedition cyclist I have pedalled a distance greater than twice the Earth's circumference on my major journeys - across Siberia, 25,000km through Australia and across Africa (Senegal to Somalia). My latest challenge, Breaking the Cycle South Pole, will be the first bicycle crossing of the Antarctic continent via the South Pole. In 2013 I travelled to Svalbard to test myself and the first all-wheel drive fatbike (12cm wide tyres) to see whether my dream of cycling across Antarctica was realistic. I have subsequently completed polar training expeditions in Northeast Greenland (2016), Arctic Canada (2017) and Iceland (2018). The challenge of cycling in polar conditions is the ultimate test of human spirit and endurance - extreme temperatures, soft snow, powerful winds, sastrugi. Compared to skiing, much more energy is spent trying to stay upright, let alone move forward. I have had to learn to manage body temperature, read the snow surfaces and pedal with more finesse while developing innovative technology and systems. Despite the physical challenges, polar exploration is more a battle of mental resilience. This is where I think women may have an edge. While women might lack the physical strength men have, they make up for it in resourcefulness, flexibility and intuition. As a woman polar explorer who is more accustomed to dealing with extreme heat, pioneering cycling across freezing, starkly beautiful white deserts is a rare privilege. It motivates me to do more to inspire positive actions in others, particularly women, and develop a legacy that will make a lasting difference to people and the planet.