Omar Di Felice faced his most extreme ordeal ever: he had to say BASTA just when everyone had their eyes on him, when the media pressure was so high that he felt he was in a crowded room although he was the only human presence for hundreds of kilometers in the middle of Antarctica.
His Antarctica Unlimited lasted only 8 days, but it's actually not over yet because on that white expanse Omar will return, accompanied by his bicycle and inseparable Miss Grape bags - which this time were really ready to withstand the most extreme cold, perhaps the toughest challenge our bags have ever faced. But it will be for another time, because Omar will go back to Antarctica, that's for sure. Above all, he will go back knowing that he has passed the toughest test, the one that forced him to choose between public figure and man.
Miss Grape couldn't be happier to be by Omar's side right now, because he has made the choice that most represents our philosophy: he has chosen to put himself ahead of work, sponsors, and social media. Stay Human.
"I am a normal person who, like everyone else, suffers and in that universe called life is faced with the pain of seriously ill family members, childhood traumas to be resolved, and problems that are often mistakenly thought not to affect those who have the courage to pursue their dreams through extraordinary lives. The choice I made, of courage and pain at the same time, was the only one possible in this condition not to break that covenant of trust with life. Stopping for a moment before risking complete loss of lucidity was the most painful but the only possible step."
ANTARCTICA UNLIMITED: BEYOND SPORT, AN EXTREME CRY AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE
Omar had raised the bar of the extreme even higher. Antartica Unlimited plans to make the longest crossing of Antarctica ever made on a bicycle.
The goal is to make the "coast-to-coast" journey starting from Hercules Inlet and passing the South Pole to arrive at the base of Leverett Glacier.
The route includes a first part of more than 1,200 km to reach the South Pole, a feat never fully achieved by anyone solely on a bicycle. In the second part Omar will head to the base of Leverett Glacier for an additional 600 km with the goal of completing the coast-to-coast crossing. Finally, the idea was to ride the route back to the South Pole again for a total of 2,400 km.
"Istarted dreaming of Antarctica and the South Pole when I was still a child, " Omar says, " Reading about Ernest Shackleton's feat and watching the great documentaries that recounted his epic, I began to mature within myself the ambition of one day being able to set the wheels of my bicycle on Antarctic soil. Since that day, almost 30 years ago now, I have worked hard so that this could happen. At first that dream, which seemed impossible, fueled my daily pursuit of the limit, until it began to materialize a few years ago when I began to really study the feasibility of this feat that will be my greatest exploration, as well as one of the most ambitious ever attempted on a bicycle in the history of adventure cycling. Antarctica is where the man Omar will meet again the child with whom he hopes, hand in hand, to cross the finish line of his greatest dream."
"Antarctica Unlimited" is not only an extreme sports test, but also a rallying cry toward the climate crisis. Antarctica is the tangible and visible evidence of climate change as well as the most delicate and fragile place in the world.
This is precisely why Antartica Unlimited is a long-term project that has brought Omar back to commit to books.
"It is the biggest and most ambitious project of my life. I have decided to return to the university benches by enrolling in the graduate program in Environmental Science, which will serve precisely to accompany my training process so that the dissemination activity will be as accurate and timely as possible. Antarctica has absorbed every inch of me, not only the attempt to cross the most remote and fascinating continent on Earth, but the also an in-depth study together with scientists and experts, as well as associations and private entities that carry out research and studies in those remote lands. Antarctica Unlimited aims to be the crowning achievement of my life and career."
Project partners include ESA, the European Space Agency, whose presence in Antarctica is crucial in the study of climate change, as well as in the training of astronauts as part of space missions.
JUST AN INTERRUPTION, NOT AN ABANDONMENT
Omar has chosen to be human, he has chosen to say enough in spite of it all, and we at Miss Grape could not share his choice more, not least because we know that this is certainly not a farewell to Antarctica and Antartica Unlimited, but just a little "break."
Omar said it himself, "I will be back in Antarctica far sooner than anyone can imagine. Iowe it to myself, to you and to all the people who believe in this project."