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Q&A

Why ‘Laoshi by bike’?

Laoshi (老师) is the Chinese word for teacher. That’s what I have been called ever since I arrived in China and changed the road for the classroom. My first bike expedition was named “Leandro by bike” so we thought that “Laoshi by bike” would be a fine and appropriate heading for this next adventure.

Antarctica is something so different from anything that you have done before.

Definitely. But that is the point, I love the process of learning and exploring new possibilities. And Antarctica is anything but a random adventure.

How was the idea of this expedition born?

I was so touched by the outcome of Henry Worsley’s expedition in 2016. He was a great explorer and lived an amazingly adventurous life. But I’d never had anything to do with skiing and certainly not with Antarctica, it was only when I heard that Daniel Burton had actually cycled there that it sparked in me the desire to experience something so amazing.

And how did you manage to get Daniel Burton involved in your project?

Daniel is a very nice guy. After reading his book I got in touch with him, and the more serious the idea of my going to Antarctica became, the more I came to rely on his advice and experience. When I invited him to come and visit me in Shanghai he was kind enough to accept, and we spent a week working together on the project.

How have you been preparing - mentally and physically?

Mentally it has been easy, I just keep saying to myself that it will be unbelievable, amazing and hard, which helps to keep me in a state of nervous anticipation and excitement. Physically it has been a little more complicated; there is no room for jokes here, this is an extreme physical challenge, one for which one must prepare thoroughly. I have been following a specially designed fitness program which will get harder and harder as the expedition draws near. And apart from that I have below-zero training scheduled for next winter. I will go back to train in Harbin, the “Ice City” in the north of China, and will undergo more advanced training in Norway and Greenland, assisted by professional polar trainers.

What are you most worried about? / What do you think will be the biggest challenge?

There is no place on Earth like Antarctica, it’s the harshest you can find in terms of exploration. And the unpredictable weather conditions make things even harder. I believe that being stretched to my physical limit for such a long period of time is the greatest challenge. But I am committed to going on until the end. I will start this expedition in the understanding that giving up will not be an option.

Is anyone else going with you?

Well, God is always there to help and protect me wherever I go. And I believe that in Antarctica it will not be any different. Other than Him, there will be a support vehicle following me with food and with my gear. Cycling on snow for around 50 days while having to carry about 100kg of supply is technically impossible. Previous bike expeditions to Antarctica in which the cyclists carried part of their supplies resulted in them having to push rather than ride their bikes for more than half of the time. So after much consultation with the logistic team it was decided that a support vehicle would be the most sensible option.

Are you taking anything special / meaningful with you?

During my world bike tour people would leave messages on my Brazilian flag. It was always so good to have this with me on my journey and from time to time to read what my family, friends, and new friends had written. This time I will take with me an Antarctica flag, on which my students can write or draw whatever they want, and my friends and family can leave messages.

What for you is the most exciting aspect of the expedition?

I believe that without a doubt, being able to keep in touch with my little kids in Shanghai will be something amazing. They will be part of the expedition, and since they cannot come to me I will come to them. Once a week their crazy teacher will be calling from the coldest and most isolated place in the planet to catch up. Can this kind of class lesson ever be boring?

Are you going to keep a blog or something similar while you are on the expedition?

My mom would not forgive me if I didn’t. We are planning to share the progress of the expedition online. I want people to see the challenges we will be going through as well as the outstanding landscape and beauty of this frozen continent.

What are you aiming to achieve with this adventure?

I am just a regular guy who deeply believes that there is no dream or goal too high or too crazy that cannot be achieved. I have always told people that when you believe in something, work hard towards making it happen and never, NEVER give up, then everything becomes possible. So I hope that more people will start to dare to dream bigger dreams and make them happen.