This was sent to the Icebike Mailing List last year but seeing as how this list seemed slow I thought I'd post it. By the way Icebike is the best site I've seen by far for information about winter biking. Amazing amount of information, hell they even had a metallurgist run comparison tests on different studds.

Sunday afternoon Sandy and I went for a snowy ride on Love Rd. pipeline trails. Nursing a sore back meant a nice mellow meander was in order. Put Extremes-Snow Cats on her bike and mounted the M&G Nokians on my summer bike; first time I'd tried studs on regular width rims. Light snow and temps in the upper 20's F helped make for a relaxed ride as we rode down to the water crossing. We carried our bikes across the ankle deep water and rode on. ( On down to the pond where Sandy cleaned a short section of trail that had given her (a novice mtn biker and complete novice to cold weather) trouble before. We came out on the pond and I gently rode out on the edge. I'd ridden here last week with the Extreme-Snow Cat combo, but now with the M&G's and snow hiding the ice, timidity ruled. Hmmm, tires feel ok but the little bit of snow on the ice sure made it slippery and what a disadvantage to not be able to see the thin ice. As I started circling the pond Sandy came over and followed my tracks. We came to some water where I stopped and just as I was telling her to be careful stopping, she went down hard as her foot touched the ice.

She's been so good about going out biking with me and I've tried to not get her in over her head but it's hard. I've been doing stuff like this for so long that it's routine, not to mention that 33 years of experience with ice and snow make for a body of knowledge that works on an subconscious level. What I'm getting at here is that I've probably, oh hell definitely, gotten her in over her head on a few occasions but damn she falls well, which helps tremendously. I have mentioned that walking the bike is part of the mtn bike experience but oh so often after cleaning a tight spot I'll hear that soft, quick "ohh" usually followed by a clank of metal and sometimes the sound of cracking brush. An "Are you ok?" from me and so far the routine ends with an "I'm ok" from her. We have discussed body armor.

We got back on the bikes and rode a little ways to where a beaver lodge made passage on the ice too risky so we stopped again and started carrying the bikes over the lodge. It was very marginal footing and I had only gone 10 ft. before wondering if this was too much for her when a crack-cry-splash sounded behind me. Turned to see Sandy up to mid thigh in water, a shocked look on her face. I don't remember if I asked if she was ok first or told her to get out first. It's odd but I've done it and have seen other people do it when breaking thru ice into water, instead of instantly climbing, crawling or jumping out there is a tendency to freeze for a moment while the reality of what just happened catches up to the sensory overload. She climbed out and by this time had said she was ok. My first thought, "Better get a picture," was quelled by the look on her face. I started spewing something to the effect of "You're all right, those clothes (Icebike tights and thinsulate boots with poly pro-wool socks) will keep you warm at this temperature if we keep moving". (Later she said this was appreciated as having no experience with cold weather she didn't know if she was in trouble or not.) After a few moments I asked if she wanted to go back, but to her credit she said no, she was ok just wet and let's ride on. To my credit I waited at least 30 seconds before the laughing started.

We continued on to the river and even took the long way back. At the river she learned a trick when she said the back of her left knee was cold. I had her take her polypro bandana, fold it up and place it under the tights on the cold spot. It worked. I'd regularly ask if she was warm-ok, she's say yes, so we putted around, but by the time we got back to the pipeline pad she was starting to look a bit thrashed. We got back to the van with the light weakening and Sandy following suit. She was tired and her soaked feet were starting to get cold but she never complained. Before any recrimination starts, her feet only got cold near the end of the ride and at those temps (with the gear she had on) I felt there was no danger of damage to her or her feet. With her lack of experience we've discussed the importance of dealing with cold body parts in a timely manner.

It was a real Alaskan welcome to winter. t

P.S. This was written up over a year ago and Sandy still has a little bump on her hip from hitting the ice.