Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Can you ski coast to coast across Antarctica solo?

A friend sent me a link to this expedition:

After a quick glance my first reaction was, this is basically an attempt at completing the expedition that killed Henry Worsley. This morning I took a more in depth look at the website, and yup, that is what it is.

So, some thoughts on the expedition:

My bike in the endless sea of Antarctica Ice
I've never skied in Antarctica, so I really don't know how hard it is compared to biking. When Juan passed me while I was pushing my bike and he was skiing,  skiing with a bike in a sled was a lot easier than pushing it. But there were other times where it seemed that my riding the bike was making a better progress then his skiing. My guess is that overall skiing is easier than biking in Antartica, but still extremely physically demanding.

Charlie is planning on leaving in early November and taking 80 to 100 days to complete the expedition. Henry Worsley took about 71 days before he had to be picked up and was some 120 miles from finishing. That would mean he probably would have taken another 10 days to finish. So, the 80 to 100 days to complete seems reasonable. Given that you have to finish by the end of January when the last flight leaves, you would have to leave in early November to be able to finish.

The problem is the earlier you leave the softer the snow is, and the colder and worse the weather conditions are. This means the first month and a half or so will be in soft difficult snow conditions, and then when he gets to the polar plateau, near the South Pole, the snow becomes a bit like sand and again difficult to ski on. In other words this is an extremely physically challenging task.

On his website he says he plans on consuming 9,000 calories per day, while skiing 12  hours a day. Looking at Henry's expedition and from my own experience I would say 12 hours a day is probably a minimum amount of time needed. Eating 9,000 calories a day and having your body absorb those calories while doing a 12 hour a day physical workout is very difficult.

He is expecting to expend 12,000 calories a day. So that is about 1,000 calories per hour of skiing. My guess is this is about right. Now the problem; he is expecting to lose 40-50 pounds on his expedition. The general rule of thumb is that 3,500 calories is about 1 pound of fat. If he is expending 12,000 calories and consuming 9,000 calories that is a 3,000 calorie deficit per day. If it takes 85 days that is about 73 pounds of fat. To only lose 40-50 pounds he would either need to consume more calories or expend less. The thing is, I don't know if either of those options is possible. So it looks like he would lose about 73 pounds on the expedition. Looking at his pictures I doubt there is 75 pounds of fat on his body.

If he can't get the needed calories from fat then it has to come from something else -- muscle and organs. Once the body starts cannibalizing itself you are in trouble. I figure on my expedition I depleted my fat store and was burning muscle and who knows what else to complete my expedition. Fortunately for me my expedition ended after 51 days. I'm not sure I could have lasted the 71 days that Henry Worsley went, and I am sure I would not last 80+ days.

So, knowing what I think I know, this is not an expedition I would want to attempt. I don't know if I could find the right balance between not giving up and not killing myself. I am afraid this expedition would kill me.

Is it possible to do? In spite of my calculations above I think it probably is possible. I will be sure to follow Charlie's progress and hope and pray that he successfully completes what is sure to be an amazing expedition.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Mr. Blue Bird is on My Shoulder

Crossing the Jordan River
This morning was just one of those mornings...

I went out to get ready to ride and you could feel the crispness in the air that says Autumn is just around the corner. Actually as I started riding I wondered if I would get too cold as I head down the hill to Saratoga Springs. However after getting going it turned out to be that perfect temperature.

Really it was just a perfect morning to be riding a bike. The skies were a beautiful azure blue. It was one of those days you wish the bike ride would never end.

It is the truth, it's actual, everything is satisfactual!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Yeah, but I had a penny...

One day, when I was just a little kid, my brother had a dime. Back then we could buy two pieces of candy for 1 cent. So three or four of us decided to head out to the store. I'm not sure our parents would have approved having us little kids walk the mile to the store crossing the busiest street in the city, but I don't think we asked anyone for permission.

Along the way to the store I found a penny on the ground. More candy! However there was a problem. On 10 cents there is no sales tax, but if you spend 11 cents then you also have to spend one cent for tax. So as we walked to the store we devised what we thought was a clever plan. Each of us would pick out our candy and one by one pay for the candy and then pass the change on to the next person.

We thought we were so smart. I picked out a couple of Swedish fish and was the last to buy our goods. But before we left, the sales lady asked us why we hadn't just payed for everything at once. So my brother tells her that we didn't want to pay sales tax. "There is not tax on a dime." she said. And I proudly replied back, "yeah, but I had a penny!"

They teased me about that the whole way home. Actually they teased me about that for years afterwards. I still remember how great we thought it was that we out smarted the system.

At the intersection where I cross Redwood Road on my way to work, there is what I thought was a dime amongst the debris that piles up at the intersection. A few days ago I stopped and picked it up. It actually is a penny that has had all of the copper worn off of it. I've actually noticed a lot of coins amongst the road debris as I bike to and from work. As a kid I was so excited when I found that penny, now I simply ride past quarters, nickels, dimes, and pennies every day. Surely other people see them too but nobody cares enough to even stop and pick them up.

Friday, June 09, 2017

Sorry Dude...

... but let me explain. Ever since that lady intentionally tried to kill me because, in her words, "he was riding his bike on the road," I have suffered from a real bad paranoia.

I still have not been able to ride my bike down that road. When I think about it I get a vision of the lazy lady putting the pedal to the floor and swerving at me, and this time successfully turning me into roadkill. When the Sheriff's department arrives to clean up, the deputy gives the lady a high five for doing her part to rid the roads of non motorized vehicles.

Hmm, blog posts need pictures: our bike ride in Prague a few weeks ago.

So to deal with this paranoia, instead of riding my bike on the 30 mph road I ride down the highway where the speed limit is 55 mph. Of course this means the average speed is something like 70 mph. OK, yeah, this doesn't make sense.

Anyway, as I head down this road I need to make a left hand turn. I like to turn one intersection before the main one so I can get off the highway and on to the pathway. But the problem with this is, it requires me to ride on the left side of the highway for a block or so.

...and that is my excuse, after making that left and heading to the pathway my brain shifted into riding on the left. So that confusing moment when you were riding your bike off the pathway, and you couldn't figure out which way I was going, was just a strange way of me trying to stay alive as I go to work.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Don't Give Up

We all have those days. As soon as you arrive at work, you wonder if it is time to go home yet. Days like that remind me of Tuesday Jan 14, 2014.

It was one week before I would arrive at the South Pole. I had got into the routine of taking Sundays as rest days. Every day I was putting in 13+ hours a day of intense work. So it got to the point that I looked forward to Sunday more than a little kid looks forward to Christmas.

On Sunday the 12th I took a nice rest from the weeks work. Then on Tuesday I got another bad whiteout. There was a lot of new soft snow. I could not see where I was going. I had been biking across Antarctica for almost two months, and I had gotten good at just accepting the conditions and continuing on in much worse conditions than this. But this day broke me. After a couple of hours of whiteout conditions I just quit. I wanted it to be Sunday so bad, but it was only Tuesday!

What is the point? I don't know, but yeah Xamarin studio has been getting worse and worse with each new update, and today I just didn't want to deal with it anymore. Oh well, back to work!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

When we were kids we used to like digging big holes in the orchard. The joke was that if you dug deep enough you would come out in China. Of course we never thought we could dig all the way to China. Besides this was during the Cold War so we knew that Americans were not allowed to go to China.

Calvin had his Hobbes, and my son Stephan had Top. Top was a stuffed penguin I bought as a gift for my wife, but when Stephan was just a baby he decided Top was his. Stephan loved Top and thus all penguins. The Pittsburgh Penguins became his favorite sports team.

For some reason my kid’s schools thought the kids should decide what their career will be before they were even teenagers. Stephan was a smart kid and it seemed very likely he could become a scientist. So I pondered the idea of him becoming some kind of researcher going to Antarctica to study penguins. He however went a different direction. Stephan will be getting his PhD in mathematics this spring.

My father was a scientist and was invited to go on a sabbatical to Antarctica with Dr. Wolf Vishniac to do research on detecting life on Mars. However he decided to go on a sabbatical to New England instead.

So the point of all this, I never dreamt of going to Antarctica. It was something someone else might do, but wasn't something I considered doing myself. Fat bikes and the amazing Eric Larsen changes that.

I also never thought I would go to China. My South Pole expedition has changed that also. I have been invited to go to Shanghai to help someone plan for his Antarctic expedition. So I'll see if I can figure out how to add some blog posts while I'm there.

Hmmm, before Antarctica visiting all the continents was not on my list, after China I will only have two more to go.

My Bicycle Store