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Presenter: Welcome to ‘Amazing People’ show. Today we are joined by Mary Jamison, who’s been leading a truly adventurous life.
Mary: Hello. It’s good to be here. Thank you for inviting me.
Presenter: So, Mary, how did you get the idea of cycling to the South Pole?
Mary: I’d been looking at Antarctica for years, thinking I’d love to ski to the South Pole. I found out that no one had ever cycled there and I wondered if it was possible. I researched the idea, and in March 2012 I cycled across Siberia’s Lake Baikal as a test. I then trained in Norway and Iceland. I think that pedal power is one of the most efficient means of human power, and so I wanted to see if this was true even on snow and ice where historically skis have always been favoured. About six months before I set off, in June 2013, I found out that there were two other cyclists, a guy from Spain and an American man, attempting to do the same thing as me, so I kept my plans very quiet.
Presenter: So, it wasn’t you plan to compete against them, was it?
Mary: Not at all. In fact, they left three or four weeks before me and finished a couple of weeks after me. I was reading their blogs before I left and I could see that they were not having a good time. They went on normal mountain bikes with thicker tires.
Presenter: You helped design the horizontal bike you used. Did your background in math and science give you an advantage over your competitors?
Mary: I’m good at working out complex problems. I fell off my bike at least 50 times while cycling Lake Baikal because of the extreme wind, so a lot of the bike design came from experience. I also took a different route than my competitors. I don’t like following others. My route was much steeper but also shorter. Their route was around 1,000 km and mine was 638 km.
Presenter: Were you concerned that one of them was going to beat you to the South Pole?
Mary: I was, but I knew my preparation was spot on. It’s a very expensive adventure, so I needed major sponsors. I saved a lot of money and borrowed from family members so it was a very stressful time. Now I’m in debt. I have another 23 years to pay this loan off. There is no profit in these kinds of expeditions.
Presenter: You faced temperatures of –29°C without wind chill. How do you prepare for that kind of bitter cold?
Mary: When I was cycling I wore a light coat with three layers underneath, and I didn’t have any skin showing. When I stopped, I’d put on an extra warm jacket. I did get a bit of frostbite one day. Every night I’d take a photo of myself and look at it to make sure I still had all my body parts. My feet suffered the most. I had to stop and jump up and down to keep them going. It didn’t matter how many layers of socks I put on, my feet were cold all the time.
Presenter: How did you cope being alone in extreme cold for 10 days?
Mary: The first few days I could see some mountains on my right, and that was spectacular and dramatic. Once I got closer to the South Pole, it was just a blanket of white. The endless monotony was hypnotizing. I loved just looking at nothing.
Presenter: Where did you rest and eat during your journey?
Mary: I had a solo tent that was just about big enough for me plus two of my bags. I did all my cooking in there. I’d sleep for five hours or so at night and cycle for up to 17 hours.
Presenter: What did you do when you crossed the finish line?
Mary: First, I took a photo at the ceremonial South Pole, a big ball on a post where everyone takes a picture. The actual South Pole is about 150m away. I cycled over to that as well. I was delighted to have become the first person in the world to cycle to the South Pole!
3. Mary cycled to the South Pole because she wanted to …
2) prove her own ideas.
4. Mary cycled across Lake Baikal to …
1) prepare for her big expedition.
5. Mary’s bike design was based on a model …
2) used by other cyclists.
6. Which of the following helped Mary to beat her competitors?
3) better weather conditions.
7. Mary’s South Pole expedition turned out to be …
1) quite profitable.
8. When alone in the fields of snow, Mary …
3) enjoyed the empty scenery.
9. During her journey, Mary ate and slept in …
3) a bag.