Thursday, June 8, 2023

Omar di Felice, the first cyclist to complete the Tour of the Arctic: “I still haven’t assimilated what I’ve done”

A journey without company 4,000 kilometers on the bike, with about 33,000 of accumulated unevenness and with temperatures almost always below zero, sometimes below the negative 40 degrees. A feat spread over 69 days that the ultra-distance runner Omar di Felice has managed to complete alone, it remains on his resume forever to be the one who made the first Cycling Tour of the Arctic.

“Right now I feel tired Y confused. I have been two months living alone, pedaling and organizing the entire trip. I need a few days to assimilate what I have done. But I would do it again, I have no doubts about that.” Di Felice tells in conversation with El Periódico de Españanewspaper of the same group, Prensa Ibérica, that this newspaper from Alaskahours after finishing his feat.

This Thursday he will begin his last great journey, the one that will take him back to Rome, where he plans to land on Friday. There you will already find yourself, in the middle of April, with mild and warm temperatures, incomparable with those you have suffered during these months, in which your thermometer has marked a minimum of -42ºC.


During this time, the Italian long-distance runner has been narrating his adventures through his social networks, sharing videos recounting his sensationsphotographs of icy idyllic landscapes, others with anecdotes… In parallel, he has been reporting his location and his movements on a website specialized in this type of challenge.

As he told this newspaper, his forecast was to be able to finish the adventure around the March 21stcoinciding with the end of winter, but the challenge has been delayed two or three more weeks. “Conditions in Greenland were really bad and the airport it had to be closed for snow storms for nine or ten days. Every day I had to go to the airport to see if the conditions were right to fly, it was the most frustrating part of the trip, the only moment in which I thought that perhaps it was not worth continuing, because mentally I was exhausted waiting.”

Omar di Felice, after reaching the finish line of his Tour of the Arctic by bike.

On February 1, Di Felice reached the peninsula of Kamchatkathe easternmost part of Russia, coming from Rome after stopping at Moscow. At that time, the Russian invasion of Ukraine was still a hypothesis whose realization did not seem very likely. Despite this, Di Felice covered his back by processing a special visa to allow him to return to Italy if war broke out, something that finally happened on February 24.

In remote Kamchatka he already encountered problems due to the weather, having to delay one of the stages one day and finally completing the route of 745 kilometers in just over five days.

The next stop was Murmanskat the other end of Russia, to undertake the stage of Laplandgoing through Finland Y Sweden with final destination in the fjords of Norway. There he found temperatures below 30 degrees below zero and, in addition, the requirement to carry out a test of Covid-19 before crossing each of the three borders.


Fortunately, he dodged the disease and was able to complete the 1,200 kilometers of the journey in seven and a half days, reaching tromso on February 19, thus avoiding Russian soil during the invasion of Ukraine.

“In my last days in Russia, my friends were already telling me to leave as soon as possible. In fact, when I crossed the border, the police inspected bicycle and luggage during three or four hours. It was not pleasant, but when I got out of there I already felt safe, “he says now.

From there he went to the archipelago of Svalbardwhere he did not have a predetermined route due to the scarcity of roads on the main island and the need for local advice to successfully avoid dangerous areas due to the presence of polar bears.

“It was fun, it’s a small island, but with some wonderful landscapes. I had a good time, although the conditions were really extreme, “explains Di Felice, who came up against temperatures of -40ºC on an island where he spent about a week.

Greenland (where he spent three long weeks due to difficulties in flying) and Iceland (four days) were the next stops. The second of them stepped on it several times to make the different stops of the route and discovered how quickly the weather changes and how the conditions become extreme in just a few hours.

In the last stage, the North Americawhich started on March 30, became Sick with the flu, which caused its duration to be extended to about two weeks. “I had to stop, because I had a fever and I wasn’t feeling well, but I only did it one day because I didn’t want to prolong the adventure even more,” he says. Despite health difficulties, he managed to complete the last stage and reach Alaska, his final goal, last Monday.

And now that? “Now to see the Paris-Roubaix on television!”, he jokes about this Sunday’s classic cyclist. “And then -he continues-, I will begin to prepare the racing season of ultracycling. You may think that I am ready after these two months, but it is another type of preparation. But take it easy, now I deserve a little peace of mind and take the bike to have fun on asphalt, which I already miss”.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Latest article