The Time Someone Rode A Motorcycle To The North Pole

As one of the most foreboding and inhospitable places on the planet, the North Pole has always symbolized a distant and alluring challenge, something that only the most intrepid explorers can reach and survive in (along with the Inuit and Aleut peoples who have always lived there, of course). 

From dangerous boat expeditions to treacherous solo journeys, many have attempted to reach the Arctic's farthest reaches in an ever-more extraordinary fashion. But perhaps one of the most truly unbelievable journeys to the North Pole was taken by a man named Shinji Kazama, who is the first person to venture to both the North and South Poles by motorcycle. 

Born in Japan in 1950, Kazama found love for biking at an early age, summiting a 1,640-foot mountain at the age of 14 (via Motorcyclist). From there, he went on to bike up Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Fuji, and (most of) the notoriously deadly Mount Everest, climbing nearly 20,000 feet up the latter — the highest elevation a motorcycle had ever reached at the time.

Shinji Kazama takes off for the North and South Poles

In 1987, Kazama boarded a TW200 off-road bike and rode all the way to the North Pole. Accompanied by five other travelers on snowmobiles, Kazama and his crew set out from the Wardhunt Islands in Canada and rode a total of 1,250 miles across frozen landscapes over the course of 44 days, per the Associated Press. When he arrived on April 21, Shinji Kazama became the first person to ride a motorcycle to the North Pole.

But he was only just getting started. On December 10, 1991, Kazama left Antarctica's Patriot Hills Base Camp for the South Pole, aiming to arrive by New Year's Day. Once again, he rode out on a trusty motorcycle though this time the bike — a DT200 he nicknamed "the Whisper-Dancer" — was silent and pollution-free, per Classic Bike Magazine (via Facebook).

Harsh weather conditions delayed his arrival by a few days, but on January 3, 1992, Kazama and his snowmobile-riding companion reached the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, where they were greeted by 120 staff members. The journey, which took 24 days, would hold the record for fastest motorcycle trip to the South Pole until 2005, according to South Pole Station.

Ever hungry for adventure, Kazama has continued to blaze trails over the years. A 2004 accident in the Paris-to-Dakar Rally brought him close to death, but Kazama was undeterred despite losing a great deal of mobility in his left leg. He now travels the world as a spokesperson for the charity Bone and Joint Decade, and takes hundreds of thousands of miles-long bike trips in his spare time.