Overzealous and buoyed by the warmth of the Saturday afternoon sunshine, I decided to take my Sunday trainer ride outside. Bundled up in wool performance layers and my heavy gloves, I assembled a patch kit and rejoiced at my good luck of being able to break the spell of this excruciatingly long winter. Driving north with my bike in tow and humming to myself, I was determined and prepared to finally start the outdoor riding season.
Choosing a route off of Rocky Ridge drive, I faced early opposition from the winter winds. Given the blustery nature of the gusts I turned off my planned route early to hit a side farm road through Rolling Acres to abate the wind before I turned my attention (and body) towards riding directly into the headwind towards Cochrane. My Garmin 910 XT buzzed the second I turned off the main road onto the neighbouring farm road, puzzled I reached down to look at the screen and the Garmin popped loose and flew out of the mount.
I looped around less than ten seconds later assuming that the device would be laying on the road. Puzzled, I couldn’t see it. I rode the same stretch of road a dozen times before I finally hopped off my bike and leaned it against the fence. Painstakingly I walked step by step in the side road gravel, through patchy ice and small snow bank until I saw it.
Frozen lake. My Garmin. Right in the middle.
In the middle of last year I lost my Garmin 310 on a training ride in Kansas, and I knew there was no way that I was going to lose a second Garmin less than eight months later in a similar fashion. It seemed that the Garmin popped out of the mount (thanks in part to my fumbly, heavy gloves) and due to the blustery wind slid into the icy snow, under a barbwire fence and onto a small lake. By lake I mean slough, one of those inevitable farm sloughs that collect water in the murky, goopy bog. This one had frozen over, and right in the dead centre was my Garmin.
For a brief moment I stood, shifting my weight from one foot to another. I was cold, I’d stopped riding and I figured it was about 5 C. It was windy, which had greatly contributed to the quandary I currently found myself in. I was staring at a hundreds of dollars mocking me face-up in the middle of nowhere with no other options. I’d like to pretend that I thought about not going to retrieve it but ultimately my thoughts mostly centred around how I could retrieve the Garmin without getting soaking wet by falling through the ice, and how to slide under the barb wire fence without puncturing skin. I let out a really loud sigh to no one in particular and went to work.
First, the fence. I took a hard look at the height (six feet approx.) and deciding that going over poised a bigger risk than going under. I took off my jacket and lay on my stomach and shimmied myself slowly under the fence, taking care to observe the lowest barb wire but not to touch it. Once on the other side of the fence I walked closer to the slough when my entire right foot punctured the ice and I got plunged foot first into icy, muddy, semi- frozen water. This time I couldn’t help myself, I howled and ran backwards, foot throbbing with the sudden cold.
Seven feet away, my Garmin mocked me.
I knew then I couldn’t walk on the frozen slough to the Garmin, I’d be facing two frozen feet – plus the uncertainty of the depth of the water I was looking at – and I knew there was a larger and scarier likelihood my entire body could get dunked in the frozen water and then I would really be up the creek (ha, ha).
Remembering winter survival from Elementary school (side note: is this still taught? I am pretty sure I learned this skill from a VHS tape) I lay down on the ice and inched like a worm toward my Garmin, evenly distributing my weight across the ice. Finally within reach of the Garmin I swiped at it, securing it in my right hand. I slid myself back across the ice and back on the firm ground I stood triumphantly, punching my victorious right fist into the air. The motion of the fist pump was just enough to crack the ledge of the icy slough and dunk both my feet in. Damn it!
Back under the fence, took off the gloves to secure the Garmin and carried on the ride. Needless to say the toes were cold for hours after I finished.