In the spring of 2002, when Eric Larsen was living in Grand Marais, Minnesota, on the shore of Lake Superior and near the Boundary Waters Canoe area, he started watching the lake ice very carefully. He was waiting for some incredibly specific conditions. Just after the snow melted and seeped through the ice, he knew it would leave a soft, rough surface for a period of one to two days. When that happened, he and some friends grabbed their mountain bikes and headed out. "Being on a bike on the lake ice felt really weird, but it was also really fun, too," he says.
Six years later, he started seeing fat bikes. While skiing a hard and relatively flat route to the South Pole that winter, he had an idea. He should ride a fat bike to the South Pole.
"Of course, there is a bit more to the story," he says. "You see, I love bikes. I have all my life. Raced for a bit, worked in bike shops for forever. The whole eat, sleep, and breathe two wheels thing. But the catch was, I love wilderness and winter more, so there was always this choice—expeditions or bicycling. So perhaps maybe my brain had been trying to subconsciously connect the two for quite some time."
He plans to start pedaling toward the South Pole this December, on an expedition he's titled Cycle South. It will be the fourth Christmas in the past five years that he's spent in Antarctica. This time, he's given himself a pretty small window—about a month and a half—to get things done. "One of the reasons that I'm on a pretty tight timeline is that I've got a five-week-old baby boy that needs my love and attention," he says. "Being gone for six weeks is no cake walk on my partner Maria, either."
We called him up to find out a bit more.