Well Spoke'n

Exploring the World by Bike

Baby, It’s Cold Out There

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It’s tough living in Winnipeg. When one meets a fellow Canadian, it’s often necessary to endure the quip, “Oh, you mean Winterpeg!” as if this is the funniest, most original line ever. Well, things are bound to get a tad more difficult for Winnipeggers.  In case you missed it in the local media (read the CBC Manitoba article here), Lake Winnipeg is now seen as a testing ground for Antarctica.

Canadian cycle touring company TDA Global Cycling is best known for its Tour d’Afrique, a 12,000 kilometer cycle adventure.  Starting in Cairo, Egypt and ending in Cape Town, South Africa, the Tour d’Afrique crosses into ten countries over four months.  They first caught my notice when I saw someone wearing a Tour d’Afrique cycling jersey at a cycling race I participated in near Winnipeg.  Curious, I explored their website and discovered a company that provides cycle tours all across the globe but not the five-star, stay in French chateaux type of adventures.  To find out more about TDA Global Cycling and their offerings, check  here.

TDA has recently added an Antarctica cycle tour called “The Last Degree” to its roster of amazing trips. This will be the first commercial fat bike tour to the South Pole.  Starting at the 89th degree latitude, they will cycle 111 kilometers over nine days to the geographic South Pole.  The price tag? Around $70,000 US.  To see what you might be missing, look here.

To ensure the riders on that trip know what they have signed up for and allow them to practice some of the skills they will need to successfully ride to the South Pole, TDA is having a six-day training camp, dubbed “Fat Bike Lake Winnipeg – A Taste of Antarctica”.  This includes two nights on Lake Winnipeg, which is just 175 kilometers north of Winnipeg.  Their website goes on to warn the potentially uninformed, overly optimistic cyclist that they will be facing “the frigid surface of Lake Winnipeg”, “sub-zero temperatures” and “possible extreme wind-chills.”

I didn’t mind it when the Winnipeg Exchange District depicted 1880’s Wild West as one of the locations for the filming of “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Rob Ford”, (surely the longest movie title in history), which brought Brad Pitt to our city, but I am a little insulted about this Antarctica reference.  You see, Winnipeg winter weather really only approximates the Antarctica summer weather.  This might be seen as “splitting hairs” but a person has to defend their hometown.  I can see it now.  Not only will we have to endure the “Winterpeg” insult, but now we will be suffering the injustice of being called a sister city of the South Pole.

Hats off to this group of cyclists, though.  They are braver souls than I.  This might be the only piece I ever write about cycling in Antarctica because I can emphatically state that I am never cycling there.


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