When I ride my bike I feel free and happy and strong. I'm liberated from the usual nonsense of day to day life. Solid, dependable, silent, my bike is my horse, my fighter jet, my island, my friend. Together we will conquer that hill and thereafter the world.
Actually there are several long distance races. This one had two distances, 350 and 1000 miles. Others are for varying distances and include mixed transportation modes.
Imagine: Riding 1000 miles in 10 days, by your self! No massages, nobody to fix things, no one to cook your meals, no nothing! And doing it on tundra and wilderness trails. All in all makes the typical bike race, including all the European thingies seem pretty wussy.
I'm curious. In these conditions, would fatbiking be faster or slower than XC skiing?
This has been an unusual year with little snow over large portions of the route. So, other things being equal, the bike wins. Even in fairly deep snow pushing a bike with gear on it may work better than pulling a sled behind skis.
On the other hand for the races where there are no trails it seems skiers do pretty well. Over those very much shorter races, in the area of 150 miles, route and pace choice seem to be as important as anything else.
I wonder what Scott vs. Amundsen would have been like if one of the teams had fat bikes? Probably Amundsen's dogs+skis would still prevail, but it makes for interesting speculation. (Of course, if we allow any anachronism, they could have had snowmobiles or snow cats, but then that would have been Hillary's thing...)
To my knowledge, fat bikes have yet to make it to Antarctica, but it's probably only a matter of time.
Fatbiking probably isn't much faster or more efficient than simply walking if you need to pull a 100+ lb sled loaded with meat and cans of kerosene. If you're going for speed, you need to travel light. And if you travel light, you can't travel long. It might have been optimal for Scott to do what he did part of the way to the pole, then do a ski/bike dash to the pole and back, with the ski/bike portion at most 10 days long. The guy from the original post did 1000 miles in 10 days. Antarctica is much colder than Alaska, Iditarod Trail is mostly under 3000' and South Pole Plateau is ~10,000' ... let's call it 700 miles. Could have been enough to beat Amundsen.
Although Jeff did the trip on a bike, those kinds of trips are fairly common. Not everyday, just common. People walk the Pipeline from the North Slope to Valdez, about 800 miles. People annually do a 150 mile no trial run. They ride the 350 miles between Fairbanks and Anchorage. On so on.
One of my friends had an annual trip he took from the North Slope, Barrow area, across the north to the east Coast of Canada. He did that with a buddy and a couple snowmachines.
In all these trips a key element is Logistics. In fact, I'd say THE three key elements are personal character, logistics and luck. Character to keep going when you are cold, wet, tired, hungry and there is no one around for many miles. Logistics to try to make sure the supplies you need are where you need them when you need them. Typically, they are mailed ahead to village post offices or flown in to resupply points. Luck that you aren't injured beyond your capability to treat and that you don't become ill.
One of my friends said it best one day: "What we do just for the hell of it is a once in a lifetime adventure for most down in the States".
Do some research, find a wilderness event you'd like to test yourself with. Forget the artificial, often pretty wussy, things down in civilization and take it on. You will never, never regret it.