What happens when you freeze?
There are different ways to freeze
I was tired before we hit the trail.
The ride through the park was no ‘ride in the park.
It was a ride in the park in the dark.
Actually that’s not entirely true. Forgive my snark?
(that’s pushing it, please don’t bark)
There was moonlight, lots of moonlight.
The moonlight reflected off the half frozen, lightly glazed, shimmering crusty snow.
It was beautiful to look at. The ground looked like it was straight out of a gingerbread village. There was icing as far as the eye could see.
This vision of delight was miserable to ride in. It was too weak to hold the weight of our bikes. We pushed on, a trio of spinning icebreakers cutting a passage through the night.
Riding in this snow was so difficult.The downhills felt like uphills and the uphills felt like assassins sent to kill us. Each stroke of the peddle a ninja star, a blow dart or a pipe bomb. My legs? They were 100% sad emoji sad emoji muscle emoji all the way.
We paused after crossing the river - just long enough for a quick snack.
Just long enough to cool down.
This was a problem. I was drenched in sweat. Sure, I was clad head to toe in merino wool, but this was soggy, messy, wet wet wet merino wool.
Within five minutes I was frozen solid.
I stuck my hands down my pants to warm them. Without that, they were far too cold to even attempt to go back into gloves, let alone grip hadlebars.
This hand warming act was not without issues. I took cold from my extremities and transferred it to my core. And my core at the time was hanging on to warmth like a cat on a screen door. Failure is expected at any moment.
We rolled a kilometer along the highway to the trailhead.
Even at the best of times, the fire road was virtually impossible to climb on a bike. With much of it covered in ice, walking up was the only option. It took a while but we picked our way up to the top. Despite working hard to climb the hill, I was still chilled and shivering.
I was so cold that the snot suspended from the end of my nose was frozen two thirds of the way into my sinuses. I was so cold, I was getting an ice cream headache from my boogers.
The other two? Both more fit, both more hardy, waited patiently for me as I flailed along miserably loving every torturous moment.
We took one trail after another. Line after line, each one was better than the last. Each one smoothed out by the packed snow filling the gaps between the rocks and roots. We flowed along beautifully for a while. Despite this, I never truly thawed out.
I wrote yesterday about the importance of having a way to bail, to know how to commit, then know how to commit to abandoning ship.
Sometimes, as much as we’d like to do this, we end up frozen. Stuck. Unable to react. A lot of ink gets spilt around big traumas that cause a person to freeze. Sometimes the freeze takes a while to arrive. Much like the bike ride, and, this blog post, the instinct to freeze can creep up on us, so much so that we don’t notice how numb we’ve become. Slowly but surely we cut ourselves off from our ability to feel, sense and respond. Here’s what happened to me.
It was likely just the third or fourth downhill section that it happened. I chose a bad line on the trail. I couldn’t do anything. I was stuck. I could neither react nor respond. I merely held on to the bars, no fingers on the brakes - death grip.
(that’s the sound I made when I hit the tree)
I kept going.
Something was wrong.
Physically, I was fine. There was likely a massive bruise on my ass. Which would likely cause me to limp for a day or two, but that’s just an excuse to brag. So, physically I was fine. My bike however was suffering from a bad case of arbouritis, a disease bikes get when they run into trees.
The front end was quite crooked where it needed to be much less crooked.
And the seat was essentially sheered clear off the seat post.
I eventually caught up with the guys.
I turned around. They continued.
I called for a bail out.
They kept going under their own power.
They rode long into the night.
I was driven home in a minivan to a warm bath.
It is delightful to know that there is someone there to come for a bail out.