Al Newman Antartica Motorbike Journey — Touring to Journey Motorcycles


The entire enterprise, to listen to Al Newman inform it, used to be silly. In point of fact, in point of fact silly.

What compels a 73-year-old guy from Ann Arbor, Michigan, to forgo a relaxed retirement in twilight, and as an alternative experience his motorcycle for a couple of fleeting hours throughout an icy tundra part an international away?


Blame a reckless inside spirit—the similar person who drove him to forge his personal trail within the first position. “To be an entrepreneur, it’s important to be prepared to take calculated dangers,” he says.

And to spend your New 12 months’s vacation biking in Antarctica, as Newman did, after unending rejections from nearly each and every expedition corporate at the frozen continent as a result of they don’t in point of fact maintain the ones forms of requests, you want to reckon with the dangers. Like getting stranded in Antarctica in January, as a result of Antarctica in January—when it’s summer season, no much less!—is at risk of the forms of devastating snow storms that may halt air go back and forth and strand guests for weeks on finish.

Those are the type of dangers, silly as they’re, that thrill Newman. That devour at him. That urge him to uproot his lifestyles and chase outlandish concepts for so long as he must, and burn as many assets as required, as a result of good fortune isn’t as candy with out the specter of disaster thrown in. Why wouldn’t he drop the entirety—together with gobs of dough—to delight in, as he calls it, “unacceptable habits”?

You both get it otherwise you don’t.

“When other people question me why I do that, I don’t solution,” Newman says. “As a result of in the event that they’re asking, then they’ll by no means perceive.”


Newman has been lively maximum of his lifestyles, taking part in sports activities like basketball, soccer, softball, and orienteering, which he’s a former nationwide champion in.

Courtesy of Al Newman

It began with a few cash. In 1960, the Denver Mint misprinted a batch of pennies and mistakenly despatched them to Michigan, the place a cunning younger Newman and his brother, Chuck, wrangled up one of the vital copper items and found out find out how to turn them for 10 cents every to creditors. Because of a well-placed advert in Numismatic Information, the Newman brothers—youngsters on the time—grew to become a nifty benefit, the similar of $30,000 nowadays. And so started an entrepreneurial streak.

The Newmans based greater than a dozen Michigan-based corporations after their first endeavor, together with ReCellular, which recycled and refurbished used cellphones; Astrotype, which evolved the primary automatic phrase processor; and Hire-a-Byte, the primary retailer in The united states the place consumers may just hire computer systems. Although Newman “retired” in 2010, he nonetheless mentors aspiring marketers and sits at the forums of a number of nonprofits, together with A Brighter Approach, which is helping former prisoners go back to society.

For as a lot time as Newman has spent in boardrooms all his lifestyles, then again, he’s been a mainstay in gyms, fields, and the outside for simply as lengthy. In highschool, he lettered in soccer, basketball, and baseball. As an grownup, he took his native softball workforce to nationwide competitions. And for a number of a long time, Newman has excelled in a challenging recreation fairly unknown within the mainstream: orienteering, the place you race in opposition to others throughout the wasteland with a map and a compass. He in truth become a countrywide champion within the recreation and nonetheless enters 20 competitions a 12 months in all places the rustic.

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With good fortune in such a lot of different endeavors, it’s unexpected that Newman is making headlines for unbelievable achievements in a recreation he doesn’t apply a lot.

Like any children, Newman rode his bicycle round the city as a boy, however misplaced contact as he grew up and located different athletic interests. He didn’t also have his personal motorcycle when a pal invited him on a biking excursion of China in 1982, when the rustic started opening as much as American vacationers.

The sightseeing commute didn’t simply open his eyes to an international past Ann Arbor. Extra importantly, the trek kicked off a private quest—even supposing it took Newman a pair extra a long time to are aware of it.


Retirement doesn’t gradual Newman down. He nonetheless travels to motorcycle frequently in all places the sector, together with right here in Africa in 2017.

Courtesy of Al Newman

The general public don’t get off the bed and claim their purpose to experience from coast to coast. However Newman isn’t most of the people. On one random morning in 2009, in spite of his standing as just a informal bicycle owner who logged 1,500 miles a 12 months, he aroused from sleep and felt an urge to look The united states from his saddle. “God,” he stated to his spouse, Roddy. “I’d in point of fact love to experience my motorcycle around the nation.”

To check his mettle and notice if he used to be as much as the duty, Newman in an instant went for a 50-mile jaunt. “Nope,” he joked to Roddy upon coming back from the experience exhausted. “Can’t be finished.”

However somewhat failure by no means helps to keep a just right businessman down, so Newman spent a couple of months increase his pace and staying power sooner than embarking upon a 49-day commute with Crossroads Biking, an journey traveling corporate, that Would possibly.

Newman used to be one in all 25 cyclists to start out in Los Angeles, however by the point he reached Boston 3,415 miles later—after traversing deserts in triple-digit temperatures, mountaineering beautiful however grueling mountains within the Midwest, and dodging pesky potholes on shaky Northeastern roads—he used to be simply one in all 9 riders to complete the feat.

Did the adventure suck from time to time? In fact, says Newman. “But it surely used to be a ravishing option to see the rustic.”

In spite of surviving the cross-country marketing campaign, Newman had technically most effective trudged his means thru 14 states at the excursion. He sought after extra. So he upped the ante and determined to take on the opposite 36.

Over the following decade, Newman took any alternative to test a brand new state off his listing, from linking up with riders on a Maine-to-Florida leg to interrupting non violent holidays only for the hell of it. Take some time he and Roddy had been climbing in Sedona, Arizona, for instance.

Along with his mad challenge in thoughts, he requested his spouse if he may just head to the 4 Corners area six hours away, simply to experience between Utah and Colorado. “I drove again considering, ‘What’s unsuitable with you?’” Newman says. “That is unacceptable habits. That is nuts!”

When Newman in the end hit his ultimate state in 2017 (Rhode Island), naturally it used to be time to lift the stakes. “When I did all 50, I began to marvel, ‘What’s the following in point of fact silly function?”

Seems he used to be nicely on his option to undertaking it. By means of 2017, Newman had already ridden on 5 continents: There used to be the China excursion, a day-long Amsterdam motorcycle commute on trade, a talk over with to look his son in Australia, an epic experience throughout the Andes along Roddy, and naturally, the good U.S. problem.

Subsequent got here Africa. That Would possibly, Newman and 9 different riders conquered the continent over 3 and a part weeks—together with 8 days simply to move the Kalahari Wasteland—and confronted a slew of ambitious foes alongside the best way: sizzling warmth, biting chilly, washboard roads, vicious storms, and one precarious rendezvous with a perilous black mamba snake.

“Should you’re bitten by means of a type of, you’ve were given about 30 mins till you’re not with us,” Newman says. “Its head used to be up and able to strike. I ignored the chunk by means of possibly six inches.”

Threat be damned, Newman made it again from Africa in a single piece, with one continent left to move. Now if most effective somebody would let him in truth get there.


Newman needed to delivery all of his provides by means of sled as he biked in Antarctica.

Courtesy of Al Newman

Antarctica is essentially the most far flung piece of land in the world—an excessively large piece of land, at 5.four million sq. miles, however lonely all of the similar. The enormous slab of ice isn’t extraordinarily available to vacationers, and of the continent’s few journey operators that plan tours—most commonly polar cruises, mountaineering ascents, and snowboarding descents—just about none provides any bicycling excursions. Newman is aware of. He referred to as all of them.

“I attempted each and every means I may just to get someone to permit me to experience a motorbike in Antarctica,” he says. “They usually all instructed me it could actually’t be finished. I wished a allow, and so they wouldn’t permit it.”

Newman isn’t used to admitting defeat, however he used to be unexpectedly operating out of choices and feared his grand experiment would in the end fall brief. On the 11th hour, then again, a pal within the Nationwide Science Basis’s Workplace of Polar Techniques tipped Newman to Antarctic Logistics & Expeditions (ALE), which gives air transportation and guided stories for vacationers.

To Newman’s wonder, ALE used to be recreation. “Simply know you’ll be using by myself,” the group cautioned.

That used to be all he had to pay attention. His odyssey used to be again on.

“There’s an actual intensity belief downside in the market. I assumed a glacier within the distance used to be a mile away, however it used to be in truth 23.”

On New 12 months’s Eve 2018, Newman flew from Detroit to Punta Arenas, Chile, with stops in Dallas and Santiago in between. ALE transports all passengers from Punta Arenas to the Ellsworth Mountains in West Antarctica (a six-hour flight) on an Ilyushin IL-76 freighter, a monster of an airplane that used to be initially designed to hold shipment to the usS.R. however is now utilized in emergency evacuations and crisis reduction efforts—and, after all, to schlep a handful of thrillseekers to a spot thus far it could as nicely be the moon.

Even after touchdown in Chile, Newman wasn’t certain he’d make it to Antarctica on time, if in any respect. After a briefing with ALE, he discovered that the elements there had lately been so nasty that some vacationers have been ready in Punta Arenas for per week simply to fly over. However officers made up our minds that they’d have a small window to get on—and stale—the continent sooner than the following hurricane got here.

“What have I gotten myself into?” Newman puzzled.

However, it used to be cross time. On January 3, 2019, Newman boarded the beastly IL-76, constructed to resist depraved climate, and landed later that morning on a blue-ice runway at ALE’s Union Glacier Camp. The temperature used to be a balmy Five levels Fahrenheit with most effective minimum winds—best using stipulations, because it grew to become out. And regardless that Newman idea he’d be going solo, an ALE information named Tony ended up becoming a member of him for the adventure.

Newman, draped in his trusty blue and yellow College of Michigan jacket (one in all 3 layers), hopped on his Salsa Fats Motorbike and pedaled into the flat, white unknown in entrance of him.

Don’t ask him how a long way, speedy, or lengthy he rode, as a result of he doesn’t know. “We didn’t have a Garmin, so I had no thought the place I used to be going,” he says. However the surroundings—“natural, pristine, and excessive”—used to be surprising, if now not once in a while complicated. “There’s an actual intensity belief downside in the market. I assumed a glacier within the distance used to be a mile away, however it used to be in truth 23.”

Sooner than he knew it, Newman scrambled again to the IL-76, which needed to take off to overcome the looming snowfall. His two wheels slightly spent two hours on Antarctica’s floor, however that used to be sufficient. After a life-time of constructing large bets and brash strikes, he had finished his craziest campaign but on the age of 73.

“I’m now not certain I grasped it,” he says, “however reasonably truthfully, I don’t view it as some nice accomplishment.”

If Newman wasn’t particularly wowed by means of his triumph, two of his fellow passengers at the airplane again to Punta Arenas had been. Days sooner than Newman’s experience, American staying power athlete Colin O’Brady and British Military Captain Louis Rudd become the primary two explorers ever to ski throughout Antarctica by myself. (O’Brady beat Rudd by means of 3 days.)

“O’Brady stood up and introduced to everybody [on the plane] that I’m a ‘legend,’” says Newman. “That used to be past me. I don’t know why the ones two guys had been so inspired with what I did. For God’s sake, what they did is out of class!”

Newman doesn’t know what’s subsequent—biking in outer house, in all probability?—however leisure confident that no matter wild goal he units, he’ll take any steps essential to hit the bullseye. And that, he says, is the important thing to using in all 50 states, or on all seven continents, or bold to do anything else nice: It’s a must to in point of fact need it.

“Any individual can do that,” says Newman. “You simply want the assets, the time, and the will.”

Andrew Daniels
Andrew Daniels is the How-To Editor at Widespread Mechanics.

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