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ADV NewsRider Crosses Earth From Arctic to Antarctica On 400cc Bike

Rider Crosses Earth From Arctic to Antarctica On 400cc Bike

 Adventurer does the Long 'Long' Way Down & covers the distance in 99 days.

Published on 09.24.2020

For most riders, the classic Alaska – Ushuaia trip usually takes anywhere between six months and a year traveling on the Pan American highway. For Deepak Kamath, a rider from India, this was a motorcycle expedition with a goal beyond the ordinary: to cross the Earth longitudinally from the Arctic Circle to Antarctica aboard a Bajaj Dominar 400 bike in only 99 days. Together with two other Indian riders on Dominars, Deepak Gupta and Avinash, Deepak covered 51,000 kilometers across 2 continents and 15 countries in three months. When the riders finally reached Ushuaia, however, Deepak took it one step further and sailed across the Drake Passage to ride his motorcycle on Earth’s 7th continent—Antarctica— feat accomplished by very few riders out there.

Arctic Odyssey

Arctic to Antarctica riding motorcycle

The expedition, which started in Anchorage, then headed north to the Artic Circle before turning back south, was peppered with ups and downs, not to mention, many extremes. With no back-up or chase vehicle, the trio pushed the 400cc bikes 600-700 kilometers each day for three months in a row, documenting their journey all along while battling snow blizzards, high altitudes, heavy rains and temperatures ranging from -30°F to 129°F (-22°C to 54°C).  

Despite the tight schedule, the riders still wanted to experience the regions as much as possible. “Although we had a fairly strict schedule in order to finish the journey in 99 days, we still wanted to ride roads less travelled and explore as much as we could. As an example, we took the Dempster Highway after the Dalton Highway (this route was never on the initial plan) and throughout the entire trip, we would always listen to locals’ recommendations for roads and routes,” Deepak said.

Arctic to Antarctica riding motorcycle

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In addition to bad weather, one of the biggest obstacles were obtaining visas and crossing borders. Coming from India, the riders had to plan their visas well in advance, and an unexpected accident turned everything upside down.

Avinash, one of the riders, had a traffic accident in Canada, and it cost the team three weeks to get all the repairs done and the bike up and running again. The delay caused a domino effect on their visa planning: “Another hiccup was Nicaragua which at the time was going through some serious turmoil, and until the very last minute, we weren’t sure whether we would be allowed to ride across the country. By the time they would have reached Bolivia, their Bolivian visas would have run out, which in turn would affect getting the Chilean visa. “Thankfully, Indian embassies helped us get all the necessary paperwork in place and we were able to cross with no issues,” Deepak shared.

Arctic to Antarctica riding motorcycle

In addition to visa and motorcycle paperwork intricacies, the team sometimes had to deal with personal differences. “Within the team, we had a multitude of differences along the way. When I do rides like this, I push hard because there is an agreement with sponsors and I want to deliver on it, and I never want to compromise the quality of our content, so this was sometimes a point of friction. At the same time, we accomplished the goal with no major difficulties. I want to encourage other Indian riders to explore the world, this wasn’t just about my personal travel goals; but my rides are not honeymoon rides, they’re not slow and not easy, there are a lot of challenges, a lot of unplanned obstacles – it’s just part of the adventure,” Deepak explained.

Arctic to Antarctica riding motorcycle

Budgets and Bikes

Along the way, the riders would do long daily distances, and maintain the bikes themselves. According to Deepak, the riders mostly stayed in hotels and motels and ate at restaurants and gas stations, as they were pressed for time and carrying all the camping and cooking gear would have hindered their progress. “In addition to trying to stick to our timeline, we also carried a lot of electronics, and we needed good WiFi to upload content as we went along, so motels just made more sense. Besides, once you hit Latin America, it gets much cheaper, so it just worked better for us this way,” Deepak explained. “We just focused on the time rather than logistics. Each day, we would cover around 600 kilometers or more and we also wanted to sightsee, so at the end of each day, a hot shower, a bed, and a good WiFi signal was more important than camping.”

Arctic to Antarctica riding motorcycle

Although the team had no chase trucks or crews following them, the ride was sponsored by Bajaj and a few other Indian companies. All riders were traveling on Bajaj Dominar 400 motorcycles, and the only mods the riders did on the bikes were handlebar risers, custom seats, and custom pannier sets. “We needed to change tires from off-road to road and finally, 50/50 tires, and we experienced some minor issues like a broken chain, wearing brake pads, and one of the bikes’ rear shock needed to be replaced in Colombia. Overall, however, I’m very happy with the way bikes performed,” Deepak said.

According to him, getting sponsors on board was crucial for this journey, and because companies typically look for extraordinary, one-off feats rather than continued travels, setting a 99-day time limit was a part of the sponsorship deal. He shared that the daily expenses came out to about $100 per person, and that while the time limit was strict, the riders still experienced a lot of beautiful scenery, great moments, and meaningful connections with the locals.

“We are from India, and we have a very different access to resources than riders in the West. It’s incredibly tough to finance a journey like this on your own, and few Indians can simply take off and travel for years. So for us, this was a simple compromise – do this journey in 99 days, or not at all, and we happily took the opportunity,” Deepak explained.

Riding Antarctica

Arctic to Antarctica riding motorcycle

When the team finally reached Ushuaia, the journey was complete – but there was just one more stretch of road that Deepak wanted to cover.

In 1994, Deepak rode 25,000 miles across 6 continents to try and circumnavigate the world. In 119 days (47 of which were spent in the saddle of a motorcycle), Deepak covered sections of Asia, Europe, North America, South America, and Australia, covering the distance longer than the entire length of the equator.

“I believe that at the time, it was a world record, but it was never accepted by Guinness. So for me, the Antarctica ride was like a completion of that first world ride, it was my personal dream, and I just had to do it,” Deepak said.

Arctic to Antarctica riding motorcycle

There are very few vessels that can take a motorcycle on board to sail from Ushuaia to Antarctica, and it was hard to convince a captain to take Deepak and his bike. More importantly, there was no guarantee the Indian adventurer would be allowed to actually ride the bike on Antarctica. “There are so many international treaties and agreements about Antarctica in place that it’s hard to figure out what is actually allowed and what isn’t, the restrictions are very tough and I was trying to educate myself on what exactly would be possible,” Deepak explained.

Eventually, he found Rusarc Aurora, a Russian sailing vessel who agreed to take Deepak and the Dominar to Antarctica. The journey across the Drake Passage, one of the most volatile sea passages in the world, took five days, and Deepak admits he lost 24 pounds (11 kilograms) on the journey as he was violently sick the entire time.

Arctic to Antarctica riding motorcycle

“But when I finally set foot on Antarctica, I knew it was worth it. It has taken me 25 years to do this, and I still get goosebumps thinking of it. But on the 1st of January, 2019, the commander of Rusarc landed my bike on an iceberg near Paradise Bay, and that was just the best moment ever. Finally, we reached Bellingshausen Bay where I was finally allowed to ride. We offloaded the bike and I rode it for a total of 8 kilometers in -20°C (-4°F) temperature and wind chills, but it was one of my most memorable rides.”

Arctic to Antarctica riding motorcycle

Although the epic 99-day motorcycle expedition is over and Deepak is currently spending his time at home in Bangalore, he has no intentions to stop traveling the world. “For now, due to the pandemic, I’ll stay put and perhaps tour India with my wife, but once the COVID situation is over, I know I’ll hit the road again,” he shared.

Follow Deepak’s adventures on his Instagram page here.

Author: Egle Gerulaityte

Riding around the world extra slowly and not taking it too seriously, Egle is always on the lookout for interesting stories. Editor of the Women ADV Riders magazine, she focuses on ordinary people doing extraordinary things and hopes to bring travel inspiration to all two-wheeled maniacs out there.

Author: Egle Gerulaityte
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11 thoughts on “Rider Crosses Earth From Arctic to Antarctica On 400cc Bike

  1. Egle… Thanks so much for your time to chat on my ride. Thanks again for such a beautiful feature here and I hope with the new norms, the community will find safer ways to explore the big, beautiful world! Till our paths cross on the road some where…Cheers! Ride Safe and enjoy your travels!!

  2. It’s an impressive achievement I guess but one that anyone can achieve by tossing enough money at it. I’m just a bit conflicted that such a fragile ecosystem is becoming a instagram destination for adv riders. You can’t ride it in any meaningful sense of the word so it’s kinda just a brief stop for a hero shot and then back onto the boat.

    I’m amazed he rode 8 kilometers actually as the last rider there was only allowed to ride 100 meters or so. I’m guessing the Russians that got him there didn’t give a shit about rules

    • Hi Clinton.. Thanks for mentioning this to be an impressive achievement. I must tell you, I have been riding before Google was born… and hence when you mention this to be a Instagram destination, I strongly beg to differ.

      I did my RTW covering the length of the equator across the 6 Continents back in 1994, with the use of paper maps. I am from India, and to have achieved a feat like this back is those days, is something I am really, really proud of! I did a 2-up on a 250 cc air cooled Yezdi Roadking (a collaboration of the Jawa)

      Most recently, when I reached Ushuaia after covering 51000 kms between the American Continents, yes, my sponsors supported my madness to try ad take my motorcycle to my 7th Continent.

      I got 5 AWESOME LANDINGS…and I couldn’t have asked for more. Every time the machine was loaded on the zodiac, it was washed and set down on the Continent….4 of such exercises were only for pictures as there was NO permission to start the machine… I must iterate, I ride a completely update euro emission norm compliant machine!!

      The 5th landing was at Bellingshausen Base, where prior permission was sought even before the machine was taken down. Clear instruction was to ride from the shore to the Trinity Church. While I was at it, the team in Bellingshausen Base coordinated with the Gen. Artigas Military Base of Uruguay and got the required permission to ride between these 2 bases. As an additional precaution, the Commander of my sailing vessel was advised to ride as pillion.

      Just because I chased a dream of 25 years doesn’t mean I have flouted ANY rules…. NONE!

      I am NOT the first to take my motorcycle there… back in 2013, a British motorcyclist is possibly the FIRST person to ride a similar stretch … more recently, in 2016, a British woman motorcyclist too took her motorcycle and managed to ride a few meters to achieve her dream to ride the 7 Continents….

      So, please do NOT blame the Russians!

  3. Pingback: These Guys Rode 400cc Bikes From The Arctic To Antarctica In 99 Days ~ Nation Custom Cycles

  4. Pingback: 400cc Motorcycles from the Arctic to Antarctica in 99 Days | Motorcycle News

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