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

1 comment:

  1. That ice was bad. We are lucky to have escaped with our lives. :-)