Friday, December 07, 2007

When penguins attack . . .

Normally, I try to stick to posting about things that I've experienced myself, but this was too priceless not to share. I have two roommates as firefighers and part of their job is runway safety. Apparently, it isn't safe to have penguins on the runway so sometimes it is their job to chase them away. Normally, no one is allowed to interact with the penguins at all. You can be still and watch them walk by, but if you effect their behavior in anyway then you are breaking part of the Antarctic Treaty.

An Adelie penguin putting a firefighter in his place.

So whereas I haven't seen a single penguin yet, my roommates are called out to see them and chase them away. Maybe, I have the wrong job. They also work more hours that everyone else on base (72 a week), but also have more days off. I think they work 24 hours on and then 24 hours off, but while they are doing their 24 on they aren't actually working the entire time.

Rad - Antarctica Style!

Antarctica is supposed to be a harsh continent and it is, mostly. However, the Navy did a great job of building in some of the comforts of home and over the past few years we've been able to find a few of our own including a fleet of bicycles.

Our brand new fleet of mountain bikes.

Sure, the longest trail we have is 10 miles, but why should that stop us from getting out and having a little fun. Saturday night things got started with a screening of the BMX classic movie Rad. Sunday, we got down to business which included our own BMX cyclocross race! Three heats of gear mashing goodness. One for the ladies and two for the men.

This is probably Annie's tenth athletic activty of the day. Renee, you should compare me to her if you think I to do too much.

Audrey Mills, Shuttle Driver extrodinaire and shortly after this photo was taken superstar of McMurdo of cyclocross.

There were 8 ladies in women's division. Costumes were encouraged but not mandatory. A lot of people signed up last minute and didn't have one, including myself.

The start of the ladies' heat.

The course was a pretty short course - right about two miles. We ran down from the main dorm to the chapel and back. Then you got on your bike, crossed a bridge on bike, dismounted, climbed a flight of steps, and then went back down a flight on the other side, after that you mounted the first smaller hill. After ascending that hill, you did a big down hill cruise back towards the main dorm and lowest part of the base. Once there, you went all the back to one of the higher parts of base. At the top, you did push ups and then went right back down the hill to the most famous part of the race - Suicide Gulch. The rec department recommended that people dismount their bike, but plenty of people chose to ride it.

Unfortunately, the winner of the women's division was not one of those people. She cited some kind of intelligence like not having a helmet. Audrey, however, was told by the crowd that every woman had done it when in reality none had. She ended up being the only woman to do it and will probably be remembered where the winner of the race, Kelly, may slip into obscurity - like Kevin Costner in Tin Cup. Lindsey Paige, whereever you are, I have no doubt you would have won the girls race and beat plenty of the boys too. This was definitely right up your alley, definitely a kick!

Audrey Mills making the first women's ascent by bike into Suicide Gulch.

The boys race offered more of the same goodness. Lots of costumes, lots of noise, and cold weather. A lot of the women complained that their lugs were hurting after the race.

Daryl, or his brother Darrel, or this Darryl, or maybe his cousin Jethro.

Kevin Rice, ex-mountain bike racer.

One of our Kiwi neighbors found this outfit over at Scott Base.

More great costumes.

The first men's heat took off and it was clearly moving at a much faster pace than the women's. Some guys clearly wanted it. Others were just there for show. However, the guys who wanted it are what the crowd wanted it? What crowd? The crowd gathered at suicide gulch waiting to see who would mach-schnell (That one is for you, Son) the stairs. Fortunately, the racers didn't disappoint.

Video of my roommate's, Chris Cavanaugh, dismount and the crowd.

Kurt had a rough race. His chain popped after the first obstacle and it ended like this.

That's me chasing down backwards man, Ben May.

All the male competitors.

I ended up finishing sixth in the race. I took third in my heat, but had a blast. That was my first bike race ever. I might have to do more when I get back home.

Still no penguin sightings. I was pretty close to going on the last Cape Evans trip before they close up the road, but decided to pass because others haven't had a chance to go. It turned out to be a good move because I'd already seen the hut and they didn't see a single penguin.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Fun with work toys

I've been trying to get a picture filled post up from this past weekend, but the Internet has been so slow that I can't upload any pictures. It's painful. 1,100 people use the same Internet connection that you have connected to your house. Luckily, we'll be tripling our bandwidth to three houses worth this season sometime. Woohoo!!

Instead, we'll talk about new work toys. On Monday, I did something I haven't done in almost three months. Drive a car. Boo to that. It was a V8 pick up truck that I'll be using through out the season if I need to haul a lot of equipment somewhere. I prefer to just call our taxi service. They prefer it too because it gives them more to do. It was weird to be driving again and really weird when my boss told me not to use blinkers. It is a good habit to have and now I'm being told it is an unneeded one.

Finally, the newest and greatest work toy is a text pager I have just been issued. I had no idea they'd have pagers when I came down here and normally pagers suck, but I figured this can be a fun way for you guys to get a hold of me if you want me to call you. I can't guarantee that I'll call you back, but if you are thinking about me I'll know it without the work of a long e-mail and then I'll probably be thinking about you and all you have to do to make it happen is send a e-mail to my pager (you don't do it through cell phones).

Long story made short - just send me a text page me if you want me to call you or just want to say hello. Phone numbers and available times can be very help information for calling you back. We are 6 hours behind east coast time. I sleep from 10pm-6am. If you page me during those times, you'll greatly decrease your chances of a call back. :-)

Two points in the game of Life and maybe a special prize to who ever sends the first page that makes me smile.


Technical details:
E-mail this address:
The message can be a maximum of around 240 letters and numbers long.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

More Turkey Trot photos

Over the weekend, someone put up some more Turkey Trot photos that show the race in all its splendor. Great stuff. I don't know who this person is, but their photos are some of the best I've seen yet.

Milling around before the race in front of the Snow of the Chapels.

The start of the race. I'm behind the green or red coated photographer.

Just a little farther on at the start of the race

Coming down the first big hill. I'm 2nd from the left.

Leaving the transition (from road to ice) and continuing out to the ice runway.

Heading out to the ice run way with the LC-130 Hercules and the Royal Society Mountain Range in the background.

Me. Tired. Running into a head wind and getting more tired.

Annie Farris is a stud. She had already run the race course once that day and probably did 10 miles after it.

Some people got dressed up for the big race including Spiderman, a Kiwi firefighter on station