Monday 2 February 2015

Shred Some Lake!

The lake has been on my mind a lot. I have been eager to re-visit it and get a proper ride in.  Last time I was worried because I didn't have any safety gear, nor would I know what to do with it if I did.

My first step was getting educated on what to do.  So after a quick browse through Youtube, I found a great video featuring Dr Gordon Giesbrecht.  Dr Giesbrecht (aka Doctor Popsicle) is a professor at the University of Manitoba with a PhD in physiology. He has extensive experience with cold physiology.  Click here to check out his web site.  Check out the YouTube video below for tips on how to survive falling through the ice.

My next step was safety gear.  I got myself a set of ice safety picks at Canadian Tire.  Also known as ice safety claws and ice rescue picks, this tool can be used to perform a self-rescue after falling through the ice.  In the small cylinder is something that resembles a sharp nail.  The idea is you kick your feet and use these to pull yourself out.  They are left draped around your neck and sit inside your sleeves, so they are always close to your hands.

Normally I am eager to try out new gear.  That being said I hope I don't get the opportunity to use these ice safety picks!

Checking out my weather app told me there would be a dusting of snow a few centimeters deep.  The temperature would be -14C and wind chill would make it feel like -24C.  At that temperature I knew I'd be fine with a base layer (winter cycling jersey, thermal tights, knee warmers, cycling liner, thin toque, wool socks).  I added in one piece of mid-layer (merino wool socks) and one layer of shell (red rain coat).  I stowed my sunglasses and opted for my goggles instead.

The other modification I decided to play with was a thermos.  I have a few but they don't quite fit in a bottle cage.  After a slight modification of some rubbery material held on with some rubber bands, I had a thermos that would fit well.  The particular thermos I was trying out was a Tim Horton's coffee thermos, so I filled it with some fresh coffee.

In the other bottle cage I stowed a room temperature energy drink.  I wanted to make sure I was well prepared regardless of circumstance.

The beginning of my ride was marred with a near accident.  There was a car parked in the shoulder, a pickup truck passing me on the left and another car coming towards us.  Instead of slowing down and/or proceeding cautiously, Mr Pickup Truck just  blasts through full tilt.  Complementary video clip below:

So I proceeded over to the lake and found terrain similar to last time.  There was packed snow, packing snow, drifts of powder snow, ice and crusted snow, both supportable and breakable.  It was difficult to tell the difference between each.  I was surprised at how often my rear wheel would kick out to the side while my front wheel stayed straight.  In other words, I was having a blast!

I decided to give my thermos a try.  The good news is, my coffee was still very hot.  The bad news, the mechanism which made it easy to pour had frozen open.  In other words, I would have to drink my whole thermos of coffee in one go.  I'll be honest, at the time it was not a hard sell!

While enjoying my hot beverage a pickup truck passed by.  The passenger gave me a big grin and a thumbs up.  It warmed my heart more than the coffee ever could.

I wish I could say the same about my energy drink.  I was used to getting about an hour out of a bottle before it would start freezing up.  The first few times I drank from it, things seemed fine.  But the wind chill in an open area really accelerated the freeze.  It wasn't long before my energy drink became energy slush.  Normally slushy drinks are awesome, but they are detrimental to staying warm.

This was one of the funnest rides I had all winter.  You wouldn't think it would be challenging to ride on a mostly-flat lake.  It's actually quite the contrary! Because the lake is so open, all the snow is at the mercy of the wind.  There are finger and pillow drifts everywhere.  It's difficult to tell a snow drift that has become hard to one that is powder fresh.  Sometimes vehicle tracks will show you the way, other times they just led you into a fresh powdery trap.  You had to keep alert and be ready for anything.

I made some time lapse footage of my experience below.  Enjoy!

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