Most winters, I spend substantial portions of my riding time on one or the other of the frozen lakes in Madison (there are five). Lake ice forms a massive winter playground, letting us ride places that require watercraft the rest of the year, and see things from a completely different perspective. I look forward to riding on the lakes for at least the latter half of the open-water season.
This winter–for a cluster of semi-related reasons–I didn’t venture on to the ice until just this last weekend. That’s at least 4-6 weeks later than usual.
Why you ask? The early part of winter was rather warm and often windy, either preventing the formation of ice completely, or at least preventing the formation of safe ice. When it did get cold and the lakes acquired a good, solid ice sheet there was hardly any snow–and lake riding without at least a crust of snow isn’t even fun with studded tires. A couple of weekends ago, conditions finally collided to present us with a solid ice sheet and several inches of tacky snow–but then I was laid up with a sore back.
Which is what made the couple of hours I spent on the lake this last weekend so satisfying. It wasn’t the snow–which was minimal and so crunchy that we couldn’t hear each other talk while riding–and it wasn’t the weather, which was overcast and windy. And it wasn’t that we even really needed fat bikes for the conditions at hand (I left the tire pressure at about 15psi, even).
It was just that I was out there, where I belong.
Postscript: On Sunday, temperatures rose to the mid-40s and melted off most of what little snow was there. So now we wait, again, for snow cover. This morning may have provided enough; time will tell.