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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Antarctica on two wheels

I found a bicycle yesterday here in McMurdo outside of Building 155.  It turned out to be a community bicycle, meaning that everyone is welcome to borrow it and return it to the same location.  It was in great shape: breaks and gears in perfect working conditions.
With 0 F (-18 C), low hanging fog banks, and light snowing, it was not your typical "nice day for a ride", but at least there was no wind, so I figured it would be as good a day for a ride as it is going to get around here, so I hopped onto the seat and headed towards Scott Base and the Willy Field Road, a 5-mile ride with 1,000 ft of elevation climb. 

Biking in Antarctica

The snow here in McMurdo is very dry, making it quite easy to ride on two wheels.  In addition, the designated roads have been groomed by heay equipment travelling to the camps, turning the roads into a heaven for bicycles.  I love the crunching sound of the snow under the wheels.  In the picture you can see the beginning of the Willy Field Road marked with flags.  On the left are the volcanic cliffs of Ross Island; on the right the sea ice.
We are now scheduled to fly to the South Pole tomorrow (Friday).  That leaves me one more day to try and get the most out of McMurdo before plunging into the -40 F (-40 C) temperatures at Pole.

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