The past couple of weekends have definitely lent themselves to some great riding and little wildness as well. The last weekend of January was Squirrel's hilly hundy ride that I had to miss out on. But, not to fear, I still had my chance to ride and do something crazy.
The trade group for my work that I happen to be chapter president of as well was having our annual winter social event in conjunction with the Okoboji Winter Games. The weekend packs the area with a frenzy of people, activities, and fun times. The locals say it's about as busy as the 4th of July weekend. I can beleive it after being stuck in several traffic jams over the weekend.
Friday night started off with a party hosted by the president of our company at his lake house. Being that we had the baby with us, we left rather early to get her put to bed. On Saturday I joined the "Freeze your fanny" bike ride being put on by the owner of Okoboji Expedition Company. The shop up there is very nice and has a great selection of bikes including some high end lines that you wouldn't expect to find in a small town shop. After a few words from the ride sponsor, roughly 50 of us took off to brave the balmy 20 degree temperatures and ride around the lake. I quickly worked my way to the front much preferring to take on the slush and ice on the roads with only a few people around in lieu of waiting for someone to possibly crash in front of me.
At the first pass through town several of the front riders pealed off to hit the bar. One single local rider and I were now off the front of the pack by virtue of not joining in the beverage and also keeping a nice steady pace. I struck up a conversation with him and thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the ride. He was riding a cross style bike without very knobby tires and didn't seem to enjoy the slush and snow spots quite as much as I did on the new mountain bike. All in all, we were the first two back to the bike shop with a scant 16 miles in and just over an hour off the clock. We peeled out of some layers to cool off and waited for other riders to come in as well.
After a nice relaxing ride I headed back to the hotel on the bike. I passed what appeared to be a couch on wheels being pulled across the lake by a 4 wheeler. Upon closer investigation it was the rest of our group getting ready to head out for the day. The couch contraption was put together by our local member and he was hauling everyone around to watch the various events on it. After a breif conversation, we agreed to meet back up at 3 for the main event- The Polar Plunge! Something I failed to mention from the previous night is that the local and I took up an I will if you will dare to do the polar plunge. It's something that has always kind of been on my life's list of things to check off, so what better way than to do it in front of a bunch of people to show off at the same time. I headed back to meet up with my wife and daughter who were coming back from a morning out with the ladies of the group doing wine tasting, pampering, and chocolate gorging.
I finally headed back out around 2 so I could grab a quick bite for lunch and head to the plunge by 3. Lunch would later be my undoing, but I am getting a bit ahead of myself now. As I wasn't quite sure what to expect for the plunge, I just grabbed a towel and had my trunks on under my jeans. I found a spot to park about half a mile from the plunge as there were literally hundreds of vehicles and thousands of people out on the ice all ready. I hiked off in the direction of the plunge as I really hadn't made any actual inquiries on how this whole thing worked or where I needed to go. I managed to find the sign in tent and realized there were plenty of other fools just like me who were willing to jump into a hole cut in the ice just to say they've done it. I looked around for my partner in crime, but alas, he was nowhere to be found. I'd later find out he showed up too late to sign up so I was to be the only one from our group crazy enough to jump in.
After I signed up and found what I thought would be a safe place to set my clothing, I stripped down to my trunks and huddled with the rest of the people waiting for the jumping to commence. Surprisingly enough, when you're huddled with a hundred other people inside of a couple small shelters and standing on plywood in lieu of the ice, it isn't that cold. I'd say the ambient air temp was probably in the mid to low 30's but I sure wasn't shivering. People finally started being let out to the hole for their jumps. Almost immediately, the water started to come up on the ice. The combination of the weight of thousands of spectators and numerous bodies jumping into an open hole cut in the ice started pusing a huge amount of water on top of the ice. By the time it was my turn to jump, the walk to the hole consisted of 50 yards of 6-10" of water on top of the slush and ice. That was actually the worst part of the entire experience. Each step felt like being stabbed in the feet. By the time I reached the hole, my feet had thankfully gone numb. The person working the jumping side of the hole suggested I give them a big cannonball so I did my best. I compare it to bungee jumping where you had better go when they tell you or you brain will try to stop you. So, I jumped.
The water hit me and took my breath away in an instant. The next thing I new, I was all ready back to the surface and clawing my way to the ladder. Amazingly enough, the walk back to the tents felt warm. The nice thing about the tents is they also held two large hot tubs. Of course, by the time I reached them, they were literally overflowing with bodies. I waited a few minutes and finally was able to thaw my frozen feet out. I even sat completely down in for a few minutes before I decided it was time to head back to the hotel. This is where things got a bit ugly. The aforementioned water had risen to the point that everything in the tents was now in 6" of water. Unfortunately, this included my shoes..... I quickly dumped the water out of them, grabbed my towel to dry off and threw on my coat. I worked my way out through the crowd with the stabbing pains returning to my now thawed feet. I finally got past the crowd and hiked back to the car wearing nothing more than my coat, trunks, and a towel wrapped around me. Funny, it still seeemed warm compared to where I'd just been.
The rest of Saturday was spent enjoying the water park with our little girl and having a wonderful catered meal with friends and colleagues. About 9 I headed down to our room hoping to catch my wife in time for a little amorous time. Something suddenly didn't feel right in the world. Normally, I can suck up some stomach issues and keep my mind focused on the goal, but this was different. Near as I can figure, my lunch of McDonalds showed back up with a vengeance. I spent the next 6 hours becoming intimate with the toilet. Not exactly the kind of kinky love I was looking for. I finally quite expending bodily fluids sometime around 4 in the morning and fell into a fitful sleep. By fitful I mean I rolled and tossed and threw sheets off the bed. My poor wife finally went to sleep in the other bed as it wasn't doing her any good either.
I finally got up around 11 and we packed to head home. The rest of the day is basically a blur other than enduring a pretty excruciating 5 hour trip home feeling like crap. I crawled into bed around 7 and put a bullet in the rest of the weekend.