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Autopsy: Arctic Bike Journey

by spike.com   June 12, 2009 at 3:47PM  |  Views: 843

A far less, but still serious consequence, of outdoor extreme cold activity, is the possibility of frostbite. When a part of the body (usually the farthest extremities such as toes and fingers) loses its connection with the rest of the body for too long, it begins to die cell by cell. Early stages of frostbite are reversible however, deep stages result in either life long problems, infection and other diseases, or worse, the removal of the part itself (yikes! amputation) to prevent infection from spreading to the rest of the body. While there are 3 stages of frostbite, the nasty end result is that the water in the skin begins to freeze, causing crystallization which penetrates skin cells and kills them off. This happens not just to skin cells, but muscle and nerve cells as well. As the cold continues, damage to muscles in Jesse’s hands or feet would render them useless, making it pretty hard to hold on, much less drive on the treacherous terrain. Frostbite is not fun, nor should it be shrugged off. The early stages of frostbite are more common during periods of inactivity which will just add to the frustrations that Jesse’s hands and feet are already feeling. For a guy like Jesse, losing a limb might be a fate worse then death knowing that the adrenaline-filled challenges he engages in would be over permanently.

Obviously Jesse will be well-protected, but in harsh environments, there are many factors that are hard to control, like the insane idea of riding a bike on ice. Ok, we know people race ice bikes for a living. Generally they do it on a closed course. But how many people try to ride across the ice desert in hopes of reaching a destination before succumbing to the cold of the arctic? Spikes on the wheels will help gain traction, but certainly won’t prevent an accident. Sure, if he takes a spill he can get up and continue his journey, assuming he crashes safely. But if he smacks his head against the hard ice and knocks himself out, or gets crushed under the bike, breaking bones, he will have to wait for help….And, with the nearest person being 100miles away, it could take days before help arrives. Remember as the cold continues to push its pitchfork deeper into the day, Jesse will have been exposed to the elements for hours. And whether hypothermia sets in or not, the numbing cold will be felt in his fingers and toes; or will it. One wrong move with a clutch or brake, and Jesse could be on his ass sliding across the ice. But that would be a lucky break. Although Jesse is the extreme Gear Head with a calculated plan, even the best preparations can go bad. Any engine running in extreme cold is susceptible to a heap of problems which could either stall it out or lock it up throwing him off the bike.

Don’t let this ride fool you. It is anything but normal. Jesse is taking a serious risk pushing the envelope of his skills and his bike’s capabilities as he tries one of the most treacherous runs ever attempted.

David Sandler is the Science Advisor for 'Jesse James is a Dead Man', and President and Co-Founder of StrengthPro, Inc. He can be reached at 'info@strengthpro.com.'

 

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