The following is a true story, only the names have been changed, to protect the guilty.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Rotten Ice

Saturday I reluctantly agreed to meet Arc Flash at Lake Minnetonka for a fat-bike ride and swim. He had been pressuring me for an adventure on the lake for the last two weeks, assuring me of the fun and safe experience I would have. The fact that I was jonesing for an adventure and I wanted to try out my new dry suit is what led to me caving in and participating to this crazy endeavor. Did I mention the lake is huge and  covered in rotten ice, and in order to ride that rotten ice one must swim to reach it.
Hmmmmm    fat-bikes and a dry suit

A.F. is out swimming in the pool in the background

it looks warm, right?
 The plan was simple, make it out to Big Island and back. We started out at a little parking lot on the south east corner of Wayzata Bay. We didn't have to swim here just yet but the ice was super thin and rotten. We were punching trough the slush until the water was about knee deep, at which time we gingerly stepped up on top of it and scurried further out onto the thicker ice. From there we cut across the bay about a mile and a half to a little island. On our way out A.F. had me stop and go for a swim in an open pool surrounded by bad ice just to get the feel for it. A.F. is a regular ice diver and this is nothing to him, I on the other hand, was pretty freaked out. As a native of the Land of 10,00 Lakes, it's ingrained at a very young age to stay off of thin ice. Overcoming this instinct was difficult and had me uneasy the entire trip. 
A.F. testing out his Search and Rescue over-the -shoe fins

The water is super clear this time of year

 After our second swim near the small island I was starting to relax a little. This didn't last long, about a half mile out into the main body of the lake my bike kept breaking through the crust and my fears were starting to get the best of me. For whatever reason the layers of the lake went like this.... on top was hard snowy crust, next was 6-8 inches of slushy water, and then a who-knows-how-thick, layer of black ice. Each time my front wheel would take a dive through the crust and into the slush I thought I was going in. It was becoming  more than I was comfortable with and I thought about turning around. A.F. was way ahead of me by now. I stood and called out to let him know I was turning back. I don't think he got the message, he stopped for a few seconds to look back and motored on. At this point I decided to man up and keep moving. My rational thoughts were..... #1 A.F. has already safely ridden the section I am standing on. #2 I am wearing a dry suit and currently over heating, a swim would be nice. #3 If I turn tail and run I will be labeled a pansy.  
This just doesn't seem right. It is however a lot of fun and something were used to

New fat-bike accessory, swim fins
 I continued on towards Big Island punching trough the crust about half of the time, sometimes walking, and tried not to think about it. Walking is worse, when your foot goes through the crust, all you see when you pull it out is water and blackness. The blackness  combined with the erratic depth of crust/slush in relation to the ice can give the feeling of falling through. It's kind of like walking down stairs with your eyes closed and anticipating the next step.  When I finally got to the island I wasn't really in the mood for pics or exploring, I just wanted to get back. We did however take time to cool off and go for a swim. It was nice to cool off but now it was time to ride back before the conditions of the lake worsened. It was a warm, intensely sunny day, and I didn't want to wait around for the crust to get any weaker. We had about three and a half miles to ride and I really didn't want to walk. With very low tire pressure, I got on my bike, put my head down and pedaled like hell back towards the small island and the open water. I was relived when I got there, ghosting my bike into the water, I was not far behind. The final mile and a half across Wayzata Bay was enjoyable. The crust was firm and we were effortlessly cruising back to our vehicles. All in all it was a great time, I even got a sunburn. Big thanks to Arc Flash for the kick in the ass I needed to pull this off.          A.F's version coming soon, hopefully with video.
Gray's Bay

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Last Sunday

Last Sunday, April 7 , not to be confused with the horrible Sunday we experienced here in the Twin Cities on the 14th, was a fun little outing with the boys. Compared to the snowy, rainy, weather we've had all week it was a terrific afternoon hike/bike in the woods.

We found this frog in the middle of the trail, I wonder how it's doing in all of the snow we got this week ?

Mt Dew and S'mores , Yeah!

  I had gone out earlier in the day for a 30ish mile ride on my cross bike and was feeling a little down about the cold, cloudy weather we have been experiencing lately. I was pretty cold on the ride and had thoughts of a warm camp fire on my mind. So when I got home I rounded up the boys for an outing in the woods with the main goal of building a fire and making s'mores.
Fort construction underway.

I was amazed at how fast the kids ran across these logs. Another testament to the "value" of  the huge amount of money we're shoveling into gymnastics for the three of them  :)

 We headed out on our bikes to a spot near a small creek. The sun just stared to come out as we neared our camp and it started to warm up nicely. We had a fire going in no time and cooked the s'mores promptly. For the next couple hours the boys, the boys' friend, my dad, and myself, climbed trees, built a "fort", explored and played on the many downed trees crossing the creek.

I had to draw the line at crossing stuff like this, the water is super cold right now and we are a long way from the van if they fall in. 

This is my favorite image of the outing,  Jose' in mid jump

"I don't want to go home, come and get me"
 With the horrible snowy, rainy, cold, windy day we had here today I can only hope, and look forward to a day like "Last Sunday".

Sunday, April 7, 2013


Yay, it's April and it's snowing out
Everyone has an image of what a cave man might look like. Dirty, hair covered body, maybe a loin cloth, definitely a sloping forehead, and carrying a club of some sort, are a few images that come to my mind. The cave men that went on a little adventure this weekend might have some of these same qualities, but rode bikes. We also possessed fire, fancy high tech clothing, and food from the local grocery store.
Nichole Simpson entrenching tool, check

I love riding wet gravel 
A couple years ago a friend of mine showed me several small caves not terribly far from my house. One of them has a room just big enough to fit several people comfortably. From that first trip I began crafting an adventure in which a small group would be able to ride bikes packed with minimal gear and spend the night in the cave. 
Young Tim

O Neil in da house

A.F. in da house along with O Neil
I knew it would have to be in the spring or fall, when at night it would be warmer in the cave than outside. There is really no point in staying there in the summer when it's cold inside, relative to the outside temperature, and the middle of winter might wake up hibernating bats causing them to die. I missed my opportunity for this trip last fall mostly because I was having so much fun doing other things. This spring I made it a point to follow through before time got away from me. So on Friday night me and three other cavemen ventured out on our bikes in search of a unique overnight camp-out inside a cave.
caveman fire goooood

Inside the cave, young Tim checking for raccoons down a side passage
Mother Nature was not on our side Friday afternoon. It was snowing, sleeting, raining and the ground was completely wet by about 4 pm. Our scheduled departure was set at 5:30 giving the snow a chance to actually pile up a little before we left. A text message from each of the three other individuals had subtle undertones of bail-out. My reply to each was simply game on! Schedules are so tight with everyone, and I was amazed I could actually convince others to join in on this trip there was no way I wanted to quit. Besides that, it would truly make the cave a legitimate shelter, all we had to do was get there.
AF setting up in a smaller one man space

three of us fit in this larger space on that blue tarp
I was surprised to see everyone at our departure point not even bat an eye at the falling snow/sleet mixture. Instead we all had smiles and an upbeat attitude about the challenge that lay before us. Once we got underway it wasn't  long before the precip stopped falling and all we had to contend with were wet roads and a wet bottom. Once at our destination we stashed the bikes and scurried to a nice overhang near our "sleeping cave" and made dinner. Dinner lasted until dark, at which time we started cooling down and made a small fire. The fire was great and really set the tone for the whole caveman vibe.
Jesus candle burned all night long, a night-light of sorts

My rig
A couple hours by the fire and it was time for bed. We buried the fire, made our way to the cave, and began setting up camp. With no need for a tent, a tarp was our best friend at keeping clean and staying separated from the bugs crawling about. I lit the place up with a bunch of tea lights and a Jesus candle I picked up while perusing the Mexican food isle at the grocery store looking for something good to eat just hours before the trip. The candles were awesome, aside from the dirt, the bugs, the bat shit, the raccoon shit, and a semi foul odor, it looked like a romantic scene from a movie. I was not about to get romantic with my fellow cavemen and was soon off to sleep with the peaceful sounds of a squeaking bat and fluttering wings.
Found this old cemetery on the way home

the sun is almost out
Morning came with the beeping of my watch alarm. In an area void of sunlight this was the best way to alert us to the return of the sun. I made a quick oatmeal breakfast and we were out. The ride back was pleasant and dry, made perfect by a strong tailwind. It was an excellent over-nighter with good friends and one I wouldn't mind repeating in the fall.  Let me know if your interested...