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  1. #1
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    Moonlander to the South Pole!

    Polar adventurer, Arrowhead finisher and buddy of mine Eric Larsen is going to attempt to cross Antarctica solo this December on a Moonlander.

    Press release here:
    Polar Adventurer Eric Larsen Announces Attempt to Go for Another World Record: Bicycling to the Geographic South Pole

    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/EricLarsenExplore

    More info coming soon.

  2. #2
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    Cool. I watched some interview with him awhile back. It will be fun to follow.

  3. #3
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    Pretty cool that he chose the Moonlander for his mission. Hopefully he doesn't have to fix any flats in -60f weather!

  4. #4
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    Here's wishing him all the best on his upcoming adventure!!

    Eric Larsen Biking Example - YouTube

  5. #5
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    Brilliant. Wish I was there.
    As little bike as possible, as silent as possible.
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  6. #6
    All fat, all the time.
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    Awesome!! Good luck!

  7. #7
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    Unreal journey ! Best of luck.
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  8. #8
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    Wow! All the best!
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  9. #9
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    I found myself BS'ing with him during the AH135 a few years ago. He asked if I had any words of Arrowhead wisdom as I'd finished a few times and it was the first time he was racing.

    Post race I found out who I was talking to.

    Yup, I told an accomplished polar explorer to get some dry socks at the checkpoints so your feet stay warm....
    Slowly slipping to retrogrouchyness

  10. #10
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    What an incredible adventure, I really wish could be part of something like this one day.

    Nice video by the way. Those new offset Moonlander forks are scary twisted

  11. #11
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    Some video footage of Eric & the Moonlander from our training trip to Churchill last March:

    <iframe width="560" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/3D5onKm8Oz8" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

    Eric Larsen Biking Example - YouTube

  12. #12
    gone walk about
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    awesome adventure

  13. #13
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    Wow!

    Always imagined one at the arctic!
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  14. #14
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    We're in the process of working up a whole page specifically about Larsen's Moonlander, but here is some interesting custom stuff that's being done for the trip:

    Custom racks A-Train Cycles in Minneapolis is making:



    (This is not the actual bike that is going, but one used for test fitting the racks.)

    In addition to these custom racks, Eric is having custom, ultra-light and aerodynamic-shaped panniers made by Granite Gear. These were just prototypes that we took up to Churchill and Eric has spec'd a few changes based on that experience. You can see where the internal shape wall has been drilled with big holes to save weight. The outside is basically super-thin tent material. These are the lightest panniers I've ever seen.



    He's also working on custom boots and once those are completed I'll post some pics.

  15. #15
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    Is he going to use BFL's or a different plump tire?

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bevalhalla View Post
    Is he going to use BFL's or a different plump tire?
    Bud and Lou (at 4.8in) is the current plan

  17. #17
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    Awesome, I wish him the best!
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  18. #18
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    For anyone in the Minnesota area, Eric will be presenting at the Midwest Mountaineering Outdoor Expo this weekend, as well as hanging out in the Granite Gear booth for a while. Stop in, see his excellent presentation and ask him all kinds of pointed and difficult questions about the Cycle South adventure :-)

    As much of the gear as we'll have ready should be there, too.

    Details here: https://www.facebook.com/events/425163414203621/

  19. #19
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    Bit of an update on the Cycle South antarctica project...

    Still collecting up all the pieces of gear and the packing process for the first leg of the trip from Colorado to Chile. Some custom products from Revelate Designs are on the way and should arrive perhaps today. The panniers are being finished in MN by Granite Gear and those (and the A-Train racks) will be shipped to CO next week. When those are all together, I'll take a bunch of pics and post them here for those interested in seeing the special products being developed.

    Blog post on prep: Polar Explorer Eric Larsen

    Radio interview with Eric:
    Not your ordinary bike trip...this one's to the South Pole | WTIP North Shore Community Radio, Cook County, Minnesota

    Follow along at Polar Explorer Eric Larsen or https://www.facebook.com/EricLarsenExplore

    Finally - a photo of yours truly from the training mission Eric and I took to Hudson Bay last spring:


  20. #20
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    Here is a great blog post from Alex at A-Train Cycles regarding designing and building the custom racks for Eric's Moonlander.

    A-train Cycles | Cycle South expedition

    1 week until departure!

  21. #21
    It aint gonna ride itself
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    Quote Originally Posted by timhMN View Post
    1 week until departure!
    Excellent. Plenty of time for me to finish reading Mawson's Will. Gonna watch with interest...

  22. #22
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    What a huge undertaking. Wish I had the balls to attack a ride as epic as this not to mention the skill and know how . Good luck to him on the ride

  23. #23
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    So bold.

  24. #24
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    über BOLD...

  25. #25
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    Dan from Granite Gear gives a first view of the custom panniers:



    Bigger: Ow.ly - image uploaded by @ELexplore (click the image for super large)

    Updates at Polar Explorer Eric Larsen or https://www.facebook.com/EricLarsenExplore

  26. #26
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    I wonder what way the winds tend to blow on the way to the south pole. I could not figure any normal way on my 2 minute internet search.
    laotzucycles.blogspot.com

  27. #27
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    The winds are very strong and a huge factor in planning this expedition - hence the aerodynamic shape to the panniers. The wind is generally a headwind, blowing from the polar plateau in the middle of the continent toward the coasts (in other words the wind blows to the north pretty much everywhere). The pole is around 9000ft above sea level, and as cold air pools in the center of the continent, it begins to slide downhill to the coast - with nothing to stop it.

    If Eric makes it to the pole in good time, he plans to turn around and return, which should be somewhat easier (downhill, with the wind).

    Check this video from one of his previous antarctica expeditions, and you'll get a pretty good idea of the wind...

    SouthPole STP2010 06 - YouTube
    Last edited by timhMN; 12-07-2012 at 11:19 AM.

  28. #28
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    Thanks for the info and link Tim. That is kind of what I found also. So up hill and against the wind to the south pole. With some of the snow contours in the video, the head wind, and cold feet I bet there will be a lot of pushing. Or as someone here said once "you aren't fat biking if your not pushing." The bike bags look great but wonder how they are with pushing. Not many other options I guess. I am very excited to follow this trip.
    laotzucycles.blogspot.com

  29. #29
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    Quick update: After a couple of hectic days of packing all kinds of crazy stuff, getting things organized, tested, fixed, replaced, tweaked, altered or otherwise dialed in, Eric is on the way to Chile.

    I'm traveling with him as far as Punta Arenas, mostly providing gear and technology support. I'm currently in an airport waiting for a flight to Miami, then from there is santiago then on to punta. In punta its major bike build up again and final gear location test and fit.

    Follow along on twitter by searching #cyclesouth or @elexplore, and on facebook https://www.facebook.com/EricLarsenExplore

    more soon...

  30. #30
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    The moonlander is being loaded on the plane to antarctica right now!

  31. #31
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    Yeah!!! This is exciting!

  32. #32
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    Eric and the moonlander have arrived safely to base camp at union glacier in Antarctica. The current plan is for him to unpack gear and finish the final prep of the bike today, then do some test riding and load balancing tomorrow and a possible drop off at the official expedition start (Hercules Inlet) on Wednesday.

    The last week has been very intense with prep and getting the bike ready. To get it down here to Punta Arenas, Chile the bike had to be almost completely dissassembled. Some of that was for space / weight reasons, and some was because we wanted to provide extra protection for certain parts (specifically the wheels and tires). I wanted to be able to post photos of the bike in "expedition mode" but it hasn't been completely together even yet (the drive train is off for the cargo plane transport).

    So the bike prep included repacking all the bearings and wheels with a light coat of teflon grease that has a -65F rating. Wheels and tires were separated for transport, and the rear der removed. We just didn't want the chance of it breaking (though a spare is along to the start, but is being left behind at base camp). Once we arrived in Punta, out hotel room at the Condor became a bike shop. Anyone that has prepped for a race like the Arrowhead or Ididasport knows the work that goes into a fatbike before a big adventure. We fitted the racks, mated the Bud and Lou's to the rims, removed the rear brake, added three fixed camera mounts, a compass mount, and a host of smaller things.

    After that, I worked on the panniers that were sent by granite gear special for this expedition. Right before we left for south america Eric had the idea of adding a few extra d-rings to the backs of the panniers to not only add some tie off points for cords, but also to have the ability to lash the pannier to the rack in the event a main hanger (plastic) cracks or breaks. The extra tie offs actually make the main hangers unnecessary, though its not as convenient way to handle the panniers. Generally speaking, some of the gear will be in the panniers all the time, and the panniers will remain on the bike all the time.

    We test loaded the bike with 10 days of food (smaller than you might think), and a rough stab at what a full load would be. While heavy, we both estimated it was still under 100 pounds total bike weight. We were not actually able to weigh it, however.

    One idea i had for him in regard to getting this vehicle rolling was to always start off going down wind, then making a loop back around into the wind, rather than trying to start from 0 with a headwind. An interesting part of this trip will be to see what sort of daily system Eric is able to work out to deal with these specific antarctica challenges.

  33. #33
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    Thanks or the updates.. We'd love to see some pics when poss.. Is it all being filmed for tv or a DVD?

    DJ

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    Wow, this fatbike expedition seems to be the complete opposite of another fatbike expedition that was announced here a while ago. This one is pretty awesome.

  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andy FitzGibbon View Post
    Wow, this fatbike expedition seems to be the complete opposite of another fatbike expedition that was announced here a while ago. This one is pretty awesome.
    Yeah, in this one the bike will actually be ridden....
    As little bike as possible, as silent as possible.
    Latitude: 57º36' Highlands, Scotland

  36. #36
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    Eric has been dropped at the expedition start point and is currently rolling across the ice at approx 4 mph. Tracking maps are here: Polar Explorer Eric Larsen

    Also note that Eric is carrying a Delorme inReach beacon that doing live tracking and reporting positions every 10 minutes. Zoom in on the middle map to see the track. The blue unit is the primary tracker. Next to the blue arrow, click the + symbol to see all the points, and click a point to see tracking info (speed, loc, heading, etc).
    Last edited by timhMN; 12-20-2012 at 08:21 AM.

  37. #37
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    I love the updates and will be continuing to follow this closely. I went to the link and kept zooming in on the satellite tracking image hoping to actually see him on his Moonlander knowing of course I could not.
    laotzucycles.blogspot.com

  38. #38
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    Great stuff, please keep up the updates!

    Cheers,
    Rob

  39. #39
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    massive respect for this guy...

    I would be dead in an hour if I tried something like this (lived in Central/South Texas all my life, seen snow twice)

  40. #40
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    Update for the day: The first day or two was known to be some of the hardest as Eric climbed out of Hercules Inlet and on to the continent. [As a side note, its hard to tell that he's actually over water except by looking at a map, the inlet is permanently frozen over. Visually it looks a lot like the rest of antarctica...] In this area there are crevasses that pose constant danger, as well as some of the highest winds. As the trip progresses, the temp will get colder but winds will hopefully moderate some.

    He pushed a lot yesterday, but today is mostly riding. I've seen the tracker report speeds as high as 9.7 kmh (6 mph) , which is pretty impressive for this rig. 4.5 mph has been more typical.

    Tracking maps are here: Polar Explorer Eric Larsen - note that the real time tracker (middle map) can be pretty addictive.

    Updates and SMS messages from the tracker will also be posted to facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/EricLarsenExplore

  41. #41
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  42. #42
    nothing to see here
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    Polar Explorer Eric Larsen

    Eric has abandoned the South Pole Expedition, electing to return to his base rather than risk an expensive extraction. Smart decision.
    I see hills.

    I want to climb them.

  43. #43
    I'm how far behind?
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    Too bad, enjoyed following the progress. Better to bail under your own power than being hauled out.

    Nice words about Ergodyne, I have worked with them for several years- top notch company for sure.
    Fatter than most.

  44. #44
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    WOW!!!!! Looks to be a wise part on the turn around. I am impressed none the less. WOW!!!

  45. #45
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    Given his expertise and accomplishments to date, if it was time to bail it was time to bail.

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    I think he's at least proved from his attempt that it is possible, but sounds like he'll have to greatly reduce his estimated daily milage to try again. He mentioned he was using food drops, so it makes sense that if he doubled the number of food drops and gave himself a couple more weeks, he could be successfull next time. I really enjoyed reading the blog posts! Makes me want to get a fat bike.

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    Impressive Feat

    Dude deserves some SERIOUS props! I could not even imagine such a trip. Good job!

  48. #48
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    Thanks everyone for the positive comments - i've passed a few of them on to Eric (who is feeling a bit low at the moment, obviously78./). It was of course a difficult decision for him, but the math wasn't working out. This first segment, the weather was about as good as he could have hoped for, so with the expectation of that not holding out, along with increased terrain difficulty ahead, most likely case was looking like a couple degrees short of the pole with the food and fuel he has available. That is an expensive extraction and dangerous for the pilots. Turning around now lets him get back under his own power.

    The mission now is to keep working on some photo and video aspects of the trip. After all, he's still riding a moonlander in the interior or antarctica! its all pretty dang cool... :-)

  49. #49
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    There is always next year.

    It's decent not to risk anyone else's life as would have happened with a desperate lunge for the Pole, and he's not going to lose anyone's respect by doing the right thing.

    To modify a phrase: "A fool and his life are soon parted".
    As little bike as possible, as silent as possible.
    Latitude: 57º36' Highlands, Scotland

  50. #50
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    Being dropped off at the south pole and riding from there to the edge of Antarctica would have been good.. and maybe a better option.. Down hill and with a tail wind all the way.. Same ride but in reverse.

    DJ

  51. #51
    is buachail foighneach me
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    Quote Originally Posted by wheel-addict View Post
    I think he's at least proved from his attempt that it is possible, but sounds like he'll have to greatly reduce his estimated daily milage to try again. He mentioned he was using food drops, so it makes sense that if he doubled the number of food drops and gave himself a couple more weeks, he could be successfull next time. I really enjoyed reading the blog posts! Makes me want to get a fat bike.
    At 10 miles per day, I'm not really sure this proves anything other than the unsuitability of current fat bike technology for a polar expedition. The skiers, without the aid of the wind, average a good amount higher than that.

    Not to take anything away from the attempt. I was watching with anticipation.

  52. #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by sean salach View Post
    At 10 miles per day, I'm not really sure this proves anything other than the unsuitability of current fat bike technology for a polar expedition. The skiers, without the aid of the wind, average a good amount higher than that...
    I had similar thoughts. I was wondering how much the slow progress was to do with the initial climb because it seemed a similar pace to a man on foot pulling a sled. Our fatbikes are superior to what has gone before, but there's still plenty of places where their limitations are felt.

    Were the tyres not fat enough?

    It will be interesting to hear his analysis afterwards.
    As little bike as possible, as silent as possible.
    Latitude: 57º36' Highlands, Scotland

  53. #53
    nothing to see here
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    I remember reading somewhere that the bike when fully laden was over 100 pounds. I can imagine that it would sap the energy somewhat having to lift it back up after every stop or fall. Skiers wouldn't have had such an issue. Maybe riding with a sled behind might have been less taxing.

    Obviously only speculating here.
    I see hills.

    I want to climb them.

  54. #54
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stevob View Post
    I remember reading somewhere that the bike when fully laden was over 100 pounds. I can imagine that it would sap the energy somewhat having to lift it back up after every stop or fall...
    That is one of the reasons I like my bike to be as light as possible, and my gear goes on my back. However I couldn't imagine that working for a Polar expedition - a couple of days worth of baggage is my usual limit these days.
    As little bike as possible, as silent as possible.
    Latitude: 57º36' Highlands, Scotland

  55. #55
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    Cool story, I lived in the Arctic for 5 years and always dreamed of doing trips like his.

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    In the early planning stages of this, Eric and I bounced a number of ideas around both for the bike configuration and the type of expedition it would be. An early idea was in fact the possibility of starting at the pole and riding the return route. There are a couple of reasons that didn't work out - mostly in that 'official' expeditions have certain parameters that must be met. Start over water and further north than 80 degrees, that sort of thing. Second, its hard to excite both the public or potential sponsors about a trip FROM the pole, rather than TO it. Seems, well, anticlimactic from the get go. However, from a practical standpoint and perhaps for future guided trips that might be the best way to go.

    The bike itself is doing pretty well, but the wind was a huge factor on a bike that weighed that much. So the question kind of becomes how to cut the weight and wind resistance down so that the team can make more miles with less energy. Adding team members is a possibility - but with that you add fuel, food and more/larger gear so adding another person doesn't split the weight, but rather you might see a gain of only 25% - not to mention you also have just doubled of the overall cost of the expedition. A third person might see some additional benefit, but after that you get diminishing returns fast.

    Changing the profile would also help, but the question is how and it what form. Sleds prob will never work because of friction but a trailer with a ski or wheel might. But either changes bike handling a lot and adds dead weight.

    All in all its a vexing and complex problem...

  57. #57
    I'm how far behind?
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    Quote Originally Posted by timhMN View Post
    All in all its a vexing and complex problem...
    And that is at least 50% of the fun of these type of things.
    Fatter than most.

  58. #58
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    Tim, there are a lot of references to the wind but nothing that I have seen have given any numbers to wind speed.

  59. #59
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    Quote Originally Posted by alphazz View Post
    Tim, there are a lot of references to the wind but nothing that I have seen have given any numbers to wind speed.
    I don't think he knows the exact speeds - i'm pretty sure the weather stuff didn't make the final kit because really the numbers don't matter that much to him. In the past he's taken notes mostly to tell other people, but for this he was trying to shave weight anywhere possible. I'll ask him for sure, though - he prob has good estimates.

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    I really admire the pioneer spirit of this one. Most of expeditions today have changed from expedition nature to established routes. For ex. from Ward Hunt to North pole, or Greenland's ice cap crossing from east to west, from Herc Inlet to SP by ski's, with certain kinds of pulka, in certain months, etc.
    They are known routes and conditions that have several successes with certain gear. You know it's possible to succeed.

    But when you're doing something like this for the first time. You'll never know will it work out.

    I don't know how the sponsorships and publicity work with big expeditions, but when I travel to new places or routes (by bike, skiis, hike) I haven't been before, I have a back-up plan - an alternative route, that can be worked out.

    You probably have made already a long distance from your home, and have food and supplies for many weeks, so why not be happy and enjoy the view
    Don't think you're loser, just do a shorter route and return home alive as winner
    One car less.

  62. #62
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    a very cool story. wish i could have caught this sooner so i could have tracked him live but sounds like a great adventure and a hardy Minnesotan! serious props to Eric for his attempt. I hope that he tries this again and proves to people that this can be done

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