Extreme Endurance Cyclist
"To help others, rather give a 'leg up' than a 'hand out'"
As an explorer/adventurer, Dr. Kate Leeming OAM has cycled a distance greater than twice the world’s circumference. On August 16th 2010 she became the first person in history to cycle an unbroken line from Africa’s most westerly to its most easterly points; from Pointe des Almadies, Senegal to Cape Hafun, Puntland, Somalia.
Her project Breaking the Cycle: Education aims to inspire students to lead their schools, communities, countries, and the world in making positive change by utilising Kate’s journeys as a source of innovation and creativity.
🥇 First person to cycle an unbroken line in Africa west to east
❄️ Cycled across Queen Maud Land, Antarctica
🥇 First person to cycle Namibia's entire coastline, the Skeleton Coast
🥇First woman to cycle across Russia from St Petersburg to Vladivostok
Breaking the Cycle Across Australia
2021 & 2023
A unique 8617km fatbike journey east to west across Australia, from Cape Byron to Steep Point, exploring the central deserts, indigenous knowledge mapping and topics of sustainability.
Kate faced continual curveballs - a broken collarbone, widespread unseasonal flooding, major mechanical breakdowns, extreme weather, rough tracks, faint paths, COVID-19 interstate border closures and exhaustion - to make what is probably the first fatbike journey from Australia’s most easterly point, Cape Byron, to its most westerly, Steep Point. Completed on 19th September 2023, Kate’s voyage of discovery, 8617km through the rugged interior, was to gain a close, grounded perspective of the outback while connecting with and listening to the stories and aspirations of First Nations elders and their remote communities.
Breaking The Cycle: Antarctica
A world-first cycle expedition from Wolf’s Fang Camp (1130m elevation) to Whichaway Camp (100m elevation), a journey of 201km over five days.
The expedition was not only the best preparation for Breaking the Cycle South Pole, but it was also a credible project in its own right. The challenge was on the edge of what I can do. Due to the existence of several crevasse fields, I cycled with the protection of a support vehicle, tethered to it through the danger zone.
Cycling the Andes, Altiplano & Atacama
South America 🌍
Mar 2020 & Feb 2022
A journey from Cusco, Peru, across the Altiplano in Bolivia and Chile and the Argentinian Puna de Atacama to Ojos del Salado, the world's highest volcano. 4,400 km | 56days
Setting off from Cusco, Peru, once the capital of the mighty Incan Empire, Kate explored ancient ruins and engaged with local cultures as she pedalled through the southern Peruvian Highlands and across the Altiplano in Bolivia and Chile, before weaving a convoluted path over the Puna (plateau) de Atacama to finish on Ojos del Salado, the world’s highest volcano at 6893 metres.
The Spirit of the Andes
The story of the journey however, is more than an exploration of Kate’s physical and mental limits and the positive mindset she must adopt to succeed. It is infused with insights about Andean cultures, past and present, focusing on what the mountains mean to the people. Kate investigates some of their beliefs, particularly those related to the mountains she explores, and the innovations and adaptations the Andeans have made to overcome their challenges and improve their lives.
Cycling the Skeleton Coast
May 2019 - Jun. 2019
A world first sand cycling expedition down Namiibia's entire coastline, the Skeleton Coast and Namib Desert, from the Kunene River (on the Angolan border) south through Walvis Bay, Luderitz and on to Oranjemund at the mouth of the Orange River (on the South African border).
A sand cycling expedition along the notorious coastline from the Kunene River (on the Angolan border) south through Walvis Bay, Luderitz and on to Oranjemund at the mouth of the Orange River (on the South African border).
The San of the Namibian interior called the region The Land God Made in Anger, while Portuguese sailors once referred to it as The Gates of Hell. The coastline is littered with a thousand shipwrecks and whale bones. The cold Benguela ocean current circulates straight from Antarctica, enshrouding the shoreline in fog until the strong on-shore winds disperse the haze.
Diamonds in the Sand
Cycling the Indian Himalaya
A 1200km altitude journey through Ladakh and Zanskar regions. Starting in Leh (3500m), the regional tour included several of the world’s highest passes, as well as exploring the environs around Pangong and Moriri lakes.
This most northerly region in India is often called ‘Little Tibet’; it is Buddhist and has the summer residence for the Dalai Lama. It is also a militarily sensitive region, where the borders of India, Pakistan and China meet. The region is often called the ‘Third Pole’ because, like with the Arctic and Antarctic, it is twice as sensitive to climate change as other parts of the world. Yet traditional Ladakhi culture is one of the world’s most sustainable.
Following the Finke river
Jun. 2018 - Jul. 2028
It is the first-ever cycle journey, 524km following the soft sand of the dry bed of the world's oldest river in central Australia.
Cycle the Baja Divide
The Baja Divide was a rugged 1,700km bike-packing ride, using a combination of paved and unpaved roads and tracks, down the Baja California peninsula, from San Diego, California, USA to La Paz, Mexico. 1.700 km | 24 days
The route connects the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortez, historic Spanish mission sites rich with shade and water, remote ranchos and fishing villages, bustling highway towns, and crosses several of the major mountain ranges in Baja California on seemingly endless beautiful backcountry desert tracks.
Kate chose this self-supported journey to be the first of six expeditions – one on each continent – to prepare physically and mentally for her Antarctic crossing, due to begin in late November 2021. A mix of sand, rugged mountains climbs, riding challenging distances day after day, this adventure was perfect to form an expedition fitness base for the year ahead.
Kate and fellow expedition cyclist, Chris Pennington used mountain bikes with 27.5″ wheels and 2.8″ wide tyres in order to deal with the sandy and rugged conditions. It was necessary for them to use tubeless tyres (with a generous amount of sealant) to minimise issues with punctures from giant cactus thorns. The route was not signposted, so they often navigated using GPS.
Cycling Canadian Arctic
Mar. 2017 - Apr. 2017
Cycling the frozen channels and ice roads of the MacKenzie River Delta and across the Beaufort Sea to Shingle Point. Arctic Yukon and North West Territories | 900 km | 18 days
Beginning on 15th March 2017, Breaking the Cycle Yukon was a 4-week extreme cold training expedition through the Canadian Arctic. Working with local expert Bob Daffe, who has been exploring and guiding in Yukon for more than 40 years, I followed a route of approximately 900km from Fort McPherson on the Dempster Highway to Aklavik by ice road, then cross-country to Shingle Point on the Beaufort Sea. The team returned to Aklavik and I then followed ice roads across the Mackenzie River Delta, firstly to Inuvik and finally to Tuktoyaktuk, the most northerly town accessible by road in Canada.
Arctic Cycling: Svalbard, Greenland, Iceland
Norway 🇳🇴 Greenland 🇬🇱 Iceland 🇮🇸
2013 & 2016 & 2018
Svalbard: The first test run for Breaking the Cycle South Pole- A circuit through the island of Spitsbergen
Greenland: The first-ever winter bicycle journey through Northeast Greenland
Iceland: Polar training expedition, testing the 4th Christini all-wheel drive fatbike that is being developed for BTC South Pole
Breaking the Cycle Greenland expedition was the first winter cycling expedition in Northeast Greenland and the second polar training expedition in preparation for Breaking the Cycle South Pole.
Breaking the Cycle in Africa
Oct. 2009 - Aug. 2010
First person to cycle west to east across Africa (Pointe des Almadies, Senegal to Cape Hafun, Somalia) exploring the real Africa and its diverse people and cultures. 22,040 km | 20 countries | 299 days
In 2010 Kate completed her Breaking the Cycle expedition – a ten month 22,040km journey across Africa from Point des Almadies in Senegal to Cape Hafun in Puntland, Somalia.
Kate completed her ride on August 16th 2010, four days ahead of schedule. The ride is believed to be a world first achievement.
Great Australian Cycle Expedition (GRACE)
May. 2004 - Feb. 2005
A bicycle exploration of the Australian continent. An Official Activity for the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development | 25,000 km | 9 months
Ten years after the Trans-Siberian Cycle Expedition, Kate conceived and organised the Great Australian Cycle Expedition (GRACE), a 25 000-kilometre journey through her own country, 7000 kilometres of which were ‘off road’ on isolated tracks in remote regions. The five main tracks included the Cape York Peninsula Development Road, the Gulf Track, the Tanami Track, the Gunbarrel Highway and the Canning Stock Route.
Trans-Siberian Cycle Expedition
The first unsupported bicycle crossing of the New Russia by a woman in aid of the children of Chernobyl - a five-month, 13,400 kilometer bicycle journey from St Petersburg to Vladivostok.
Accompanied by Brit Greg Yeoman and five different Russian cyclists who covered various sections of the trip, the 153 day expedition was completed one day ahead of schedule, before the onset of the severe Russian winter and despite tackling the 1,500km swamp in eastern Siberia, where no vehicles could pass.
This was an opportunity to learn more about the new Russia emerging after 70 years of communism.
Biking across Europe
15,000km in total including Ireland, France, Spain - Istanbul then Vienna to London, Bergen to Nord Kapp, Norway