Travel Log: January 22nd, 2000

January 22nd, 2000

Milly meets Jenny Fox, the computer winter-over.

Randy writes:
I have a bit of a cold today so while I am not dragging from the altitude, this has me a bit sluggish... also the wind seems to have kicked up.

Weather for South Pole Station 01-23-2000
6:24 AM
01-22-2000 at 17:24 Z
Temperature -24.4 C -11.9 F
Wind 359 At 17.3 Knots
Windchill -48.9 C -56 F
Barometer 685.7 mB
Physio Altitude 10412. ft

Steve and I just took out the second bike with the hand brake. We finally felt that our bodies were up to it even though it is the worst day since we have been here. Lots of wind!

The bike rode really well on the hard pack stuff inside the dome. So well that I even tried to ride it up the hill -- by the way this is not a feature of the land (which is just one big flat plateau); rather it is all the snow that has drifted around the base that was built in the 70's. I was able to make it a few yards and then the slope was steeper, the snow deeper. I wanted to stand up to pedal, but that meant less weight on the rear tire... which equaled the end of the trip! The photo of Brette from the AASTO shows him stopped in a similar spot.

It did pretty well on packed stuff. Are the gears different than the other model? It seemed to ride better. People are very busy here so I am not sure we will be able to swap in the higher gears right now but that will really help. Once I hit any sizable drift or sastrugi (?spelling), the back tire would spin out. If I had some momentum I could make it through small drifts, not deep nor wide. For instance around the Pole it was fine. Bill took some video of it. I may try to ride it out to the dark sector this afternoon although it is a lousy day for the ride.

Any testing is very dependent on the weather. I was also very out of breath after riding partially up the hill and again after a few twirls around the pole. What sapped my energy the most was when the rear tire lost traction and I was just pedling fast to spin my wheels.

I tried a trip down the drift hill to the main entrance that was fun and easy. Last night I ran into two guys who were having the time of their lives using the bike as a sled and jumping off mounds of snow, letting gravity do most of the work kinda like sleigh riding.

Summary: fun as a novelty but too much exertion to use practically, a few minor modifications may help i.e., the new higher gears, as would a better back tire.

Click on any small image to retrieve a larger one...

Steve is filming the test ride for sharing with the students back in Pittsburgh.

David Chuss is an undergraduate student working with CARA.

Views of Steve and Randy talking with the students who designed the bike back in Pittsburgh.

Milly meets a new friend, Walt the Walrus, and they both help with the test ride.

Randy sending postcards to classrooms back in the States.

For Steve's Travel Log, see the Ice Prowler website.

Go on to the
next day...