Every year as the calendar resets, we analyze where we are, where the last year has taken us and where we might be going in the future. And, like every beginning is another beginnings end, midnight on the 31st marks the end of an era. Especially for three drunken cyclists who cross the equator into the Southern Hemisphere at exactly that moment.
Crossing the equator as the clock struck 12 turned the whole world upside down. Dan, who owns a bar on the equator, admist shouts of “Oooooohhhh my gosh you did it!” And “Happy New Year” states that “The word equator has seven letters. So does the word bicycle. Coincidence, I don’t think so.”
And the 5,000 kilometers from Cairo to Nanyuki, Kenya has brought the Locos Ciclos’ bicycles exactly to the equator. Each day brought a new road, and the chance to be moving across the surface of the Earth. Halfway from 30 degrees north in Egypt and 30 degrees South in South Africa, this line in the sand is a definitive crossing.
Excited for the New Year, with resolutions like trying not to get so much mango in the beard and breaking the no-handlebar riding records, the rest of the road to Cape Town is looking incredible. Our compass says, “It’s heading South, and hopefully down-hill too, maybe, probably not, that’s okay,”
It also makes me realize the summation of days that make a year’s accomplishments. Spinning around our lovely sun, the Earth has traveled 940 million kilometers since the last January 1st 12:00 a.m. At 2.5 million kilometers per day, the Earth continually makes progress forward. The rotating globe, like our rotating bicycle tires, gain kilometers and kilometers slowly but surely. When you look back at the whole year, I can’t believe how far each little rotation took me.
Each fabulous inch that brought me across this African Continent has been extraordinary for its own reason, and I have so many reasons to be thankful for 2018. The most unbelievably legendary inches happened to be right on the equator, right as 2019 started.
When we stood at 0.000019 North, which is just a couple of feet above the equator, and pour water into a bowl with a hole at the bottom, the water will drain clockwise, and a little twig placed in the bowl will indicate this phenomenon.
Then we stood at 0.000019 South, which is literally as close as the front seat of a car to the back row, and poured the same water into the same draining bowl with the same little twig-and Wallah-it rotated to the left, counter-clockwise. (And yes, this would apply to toilets)
But the craziest thing was standing directly at 0.00000000 on the equator, where we poured the same water into the same bowl with the same little twig. The water drains straight downward, no motion at all.
In the Northern Hemisphere, the Coriolis effect turns draining water clockwise. The physical shape of Earth’s rotation pulls the water to the right as it is moving downward, and the same force pulls water to the left in the Southern Hemisphere, and there is not a Coriolis force exactly on the equator because it is Earth’s widest point.
The few feet that make up this difference are just like those last 10 seconds of December 31st. New Years isn’t just a mark on the calendar but a reminder of getting 365 more glorious days. The equator is my reminder of the glorious 360 degree sphere we live on, just how big it really is, and how each few feet can make a monumental difference.