Wahoo! Another year of ice riding on Lake Monroe (and Griffy), you know, I sometimes worry the ice will not form (like in 2007). But this year the ice has been over 4 inches thick for over three weeks, and had many different faces. And yes, I wear my sandals (and 2-3 pairs of socks) on the ice. I have shoes that I use only when there is deep snow.
I took 2 vacation days from work to ride on the lakes, and it could not have gone better. I know most folks find it hard to believe, but these days were really fun. I logged about 75 miles of the flattest riding you can do in southern Indiana, and never once came close to any real danger. During my 20 hours on the ice I saw 5 fisherman, 2 campers, 3 coyotes, 3 hawks, 2 bald eagles, and 1 great blue heron. We had no problem sharing the lake.
Notes on frozen lake riding:
- The lake seems much smaller when you can ride rather than rowing, I’ve been end to end on my bike.
- Snow can be a help in winter riding. Up to 2 inches will help hold the bike upright, although it does slow you down (a better workout?) More than 2 inches is a challenge.
- Snow can be slippery. The only time I fell was riding on thin snow over rough ice.
- White ice generally has better traction than clear ice, but is often bumpier.
- Black (clear, green or blue) ice is ridable, even though it appears smooth, there it plenty of traction (as long as there in not a thin layer of water or snow on top.)
- Braking is a challenge, it is better to stop pedaling and put your feet down.
- Make wide turns only, or find yourself on the ice.
- Use low torque, ie don’t press hard on the pedals, or you may peel out and meet the ice.
- Cracks that have water one side or the other are scary, even though I know there is ice underneath the water. But who wants wet feet in January? I ride parallel till I find safe place to cross, which may be at the shoreline.
- There are coyotes, eagles, geese, and great blue herons at the lake in the winter.
- The Middle and South Forks of Salt Creek are frozen highways to Elkinsville and Maumee
- A cup of tea is quite refreshing when on the ice.
- The ice grumbling under your feet and pinging across the lake is a good thing, it is the sound of ice being made.
I mapped out a couple of my Lake Monroe routes after the fact, just to see how far I’ve traveled, and to fix in my mind where my photos were taken. It does help to have a map on the lake, on my first ride to Elkensville, I somehow started up Axom Branch, rather than riding north and then east.