Extreme cyclist Omar Di Felice, one year after his first attempt, will set off again on what will be, once again, the most extreme and difficult adventure he has ever achieved: the solo crossing of Antarctica on his bicycle. 

The departure from Punta Arenas in Chile to Union Glacier, Base Camp in Antarctica, is scheduled for around November 10. From there, depending on weather conditions, Omar will reach the starting point on the coast of Hercules Inlet by a small flight. The route will measure more than 1,500 km having as its first goal reaching the South Pole, from which he will continue along the Leverett Glacier, finally trying to return to the South Pole always riding his bicycle. It will be possible to follow the adventure live on the ENDU Live Map.

The Bike to 1.5°C project

The choice to undertake this feat in Antarctica, a place particularly impacted by global warming, is representative of the awareness-raising journey undertaken by Omar Di Felice to bring the effects of climate change to bear if we fail to keep the global average temperature increase well below 2°C, with the ambition of not exceeding 1.5°C as envisioned by the Paris Agreement.

Indeed, with the Bike to 1.5°C project, Omar seeks to publicize issues related to the climate crisis through a series of adventures and explorations. The other ventures of Omar’s initiative with the scientific support of the Italian Climate Network were: in October 2021 from Milan to Glasgow for COP26, in early 2022 the Arctic World Tour, and in February 2023 the winter crossing of the Himalayan region of Ladakh.

Also, as a reminder of the project’s popularization and awareness-raising purpose, the bicycle on which Omar will perform will bear the climate stripes graphics of climate scientist at the University of Reading, Ed Hawkins, as well as an honorary member of the Scientific Council of Antarctica Unlimited 2023. 

Professor Ed Hawkins, creator of the climate stripes, said, “Omar’s spirit of exploration and scientific inquiry in the face of adversity is inspiring. His new mission highlights the urgency of the climate crisis and gives us hope that, through courage and perseverance, we can build a sustainable future together. Seeing the stripes used on Omar’s equipment was very flattering to me and I hope they will inspire climate conversations around the world.”

The scientific council and the dissemination project

In the days leading up to the departure, Omar Di Felice’s social channels will air live feeds made with female researchers who have experienced life in Antarctica. Dialoguing with Omar will be Marco Buttu, an engineer on his third experience at the French-Italian research station Concordia; Martina Tenti, a geophysicist, a researcher in the Antarctic seas for the U.S. program; Sofia Fatigoni, an astrophysicist, back at the South Pole as part of the U.S. program to install two telescopes; and Luca Parmitano, an astronaut who has already dialogued with Omar during the trip to COP26 in Glasgow and the joint panel on climate change held at the ESA Symposium in Leipzig.

Following Omar’s return from Antarctica, the online interview series with the experts who make up Antarctica Unlimited’s Science Council will begin again in March. In addition to Ed Hawkins, some of the experts who will make up the Scientific Council are Giulia Foscari, an architect, researcher and founder of UNLESS (a new addition among the adventure’s scientific partners); Elena Joli, a theoretical physicist and participant in the Antarctica Homeward Bound expedition; Antonello Pasini, a climatologist physicist at CNR and professor of Climate Physics at Roma Tre University; and Jacopo Pasotti, a geologist, environmental journalist, photographer and writer. To complete the outreach project, the popular part of the adventure will include a series of meetings in primary and secondary schools throughout Italy starting in March.

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