Ultra-cyclist rides across entire Arctic to warn of climate change

Omar di Felice will travel 4,000 kilometres through eight countries to raise awareness about climate change. (Photo: Omar Di Felice / Facebook)

As the Arctic warms three times faster than the rest of the world, a cyclist is travelling across the entire region to raise awareness about climate change.

Omar di Felice started his self-titled Arctic World Tour on Wednesday from the Kamchatka Peninsula, in the Russian Far East. He plans to travel 4,000 kilometres through eight countries that border the Arctic Circle.

The 40-year-old will cycle 800 km “up and down, through a land of volcanoes, hot springs and wild landscapes” in Kamchatka before flying to Lapland. There, he plans to ride 1,500 km from Murmansk (Russia) to Tromsø (Norway), via Finland and Sweden.

Di Felice will then travel to the Svalbard Islands, the northernmost point of his journey. Next, he will fly to Iceland before reaching Greenland, where he will take the Arctic Circle Trail, a 200 km off-road trail from Point 66 (40 km east of Kangerlussuaq), on the edge of the ice cap, to the village of Sisimiut.

The last leg of his tour will be in North America, where he plans to travel from Whitehorse in Canada’s northwestern province of Yukon to the American state of Alaska.

I start for the arctic world tour aware that it will not be an easy walk: I will ride in difficult conditions, I will have fun, marveling at the colors of the Northern Lights, marveling at the animals I will meet and sometimes frightening me in the freezing cold of the polar night.Omar di Felice on Instagram

“Bike to 1.5 °C”

As part of his career of professional ultra-cyclist, Omar di Felice decided to launch the “Bike to 1.5ºC” project. The goal is to use his adventures to serve as a platform for sharing information about climate change.

“When I launched the “Bike to 1.5ºC” project, I had a clear idea of ​​its purpose: to tell, inspire, spread”, writes di Felice on Instagram.

“Telling the beauty of the world seen from the saddle of my bicycle. Inspiring other people to get on the saddle, even if just to go to work.”

As part of his project, he partnered with the Italian Climate Network, and the Arctic World Tour will be the second ultra-distance ride. In October, Di Felice rode 2,000 km from Milan to Glasgow to the COP26 climate conference.

In addition to updates on weather, wildlife, and gear and equipment, di Felice will also broadcast conversations with scientists and climate experts he will meet along the way. He has actually started doing this on Facebook.

A love for Winter

A native of Rome, this is not the first time that the Italian ultra-cyclist has embarked on a winter expedition.

On his website, we can see that he has participated in several expeditions since the first one in 2013 when he rode Iceland’s Ring Road for four days in winter. 

For his Arctic tour, Omar di Felice has worked with his sponsors to create special equipment for the extreme weather conditions he will face. 

He plans to sleep in village accommodations, but if he can’t find any, the cyclist is also carrying a full winter camping kit and enough food to last the stretches without resupply. But he will also stop in villages for supplies. 

People can track his progress online or check his Facebook and Instagram pages for updates. 

Related stories from around the North: 

World: 2021 one of seven warmest years on record, says U.N. agency, Eye on the Arctic

Canada: 30–50% of critical northern infrastructure could be at high risk by 2050 due to warming, says study, Eye on the Arctic

Greenland: Oldest Arctic sea ice vanishes twice as fast as rest of region, study shows, Eye on the Arctic

Norway: Thawing permafrost melts ground under homes and around Global Seed Vault in Svalbard, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: City in Arctic Russia cooling ground to preserve buildings on thawing permafrost, The Independent Barents Observer

United States: Bering Sea ice at lowest extent in at least 5,500 years, study says, Alaska Public Media

Mathiew Leiser, Eye on the Arctic

Né dans le sud de la France d'une mère anglaise et d'un père français, Mathiew Leiser a parcouru le monde dès son plus jeune âge. Après des études de journalisme international à Londres, il a rapidement acquis différentes compétences journalistiques en travaillant comme journaliste indépendant dans divers médias. De la BBC à l'Agence France Presse en passant par l'agence d'UGC Newsflare, Mathiew a acquis de l'expérience dans différents domaines du journalisme. En 2019, il décide de s'installer à Montréal pour affronter les hivers rigoureux et profiter des beaux étés mais surtout développer son journalisme. Il a rapidement intégré Radio Canada International où il s'efforce de donner le meilleur de lui-même au sein des différentes équipes.

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