Friday, October 10, 2014

A Bit Odd: part 6 of 9

Before I left on my expedition to the South Pole I got a lot of advice from people. Biking to the South Pole is a seemingly impossible task. I assume these people were honestly concerned about my welfare. This is part six of nine posts looking at some of the advice I was given.

I knew that it would take extreme mental toughness to make it to the South Pole. I had read every expedition log I could find from other South Pole expeditions. One of the things I learned was that I could not let self-doubt be the cause of my failure. I needed to avoid any thoughts of failure.

Getting sponsors was a difficult task. One of the things I did to try and get sponsors was to be very open and public with my plans. In the end it did not get me many sponsors, but I did get this comment:

"Saying that this is the first time a bike has been ridden to the South Pole before it has actually been done seems a bit odd. It has been attempted before and you will be attempting to do so again.”

My intentional attitude of success was seen by some as arrogance. In reality it was a necessary part of my preparation. Had I not worked on that attitude, had I not determined before hand that I would not let anything turn me around, had I not already decided that I would keep going, then I would not have made it. 

After I finally climbed from the coast up into the interior of Antarctica and arrived at what I thought would be easier biking, I found that the soft drifting snow and brutal headwinds would keep me from getting enough miles. Looking at my progress and how far I had to go, it was easy to see it would take me more than 100 days to get to the South Pole. I only had a little more than 50 days available before the last flight would leave. It would have made sense at that point to quit, knowing that there was no way I could make it. However I had decided before I left that I would keep going until I ran out of time. 

Then when things got better, and I was getting the distance needed to make it to the South Pole my rear hub broke. I would pedal and the pedals would spin but the wheel would not turn. I took some cable and wrapped it around the gears and spokes making it so I could continue to bike. After a few days, that pulled the gears crooked and the chain would drop into the spokes and into the lower gears. It was no longer possible to pedal the bike. 

I then set up my tent and took the wires off the gears and spokes and cleaned everything up. When I pulled the gears off the hub, the bearings and pawls were all ground up and fell apart into the bottom of my tent. I put it back together, wired the spokes to the gears and prayed for a miracle. 

It worked, but it took a lot of force to turn the pedals. Climbing in soft snow with a headwind was more than the wires could hold and the wires all broke. At this point it would have been easy to quit and say I didn't fail, the bike failed. But that thought lasted less than one second before my mind started to work on how to fix it again. I remembered some wires in my coats and in my tent. I stole the wires from the coats and tent and once again wired up the gears to the spokes. In the end I broke 4 spokes but continued on until I got a new wheel in my last food cache. 

The destroyed hub, the broken wires, and the broken spokes are a testament to the amount of hard work I put into the pedals. I came to Antarctica to ride my bike to the South Pole. Often it would have been easier to put the bike into the sled and just pull it, but I had made a commitment to myself that the wheels would roll the full distance. This expedition was not about what was most efficient--it was about biking to the South Pole.

Getting to the South Pole required that I be a "bit odd" and have an attitude of success.

I just love to ride my bike.

No comments:

Post a Comment

My Bicycle Store