Welcome to the latest installment of Full Moon Adventures. I’ve written about these before, but it’s not complicated: a friend and I try to do something interesting outdoors when the moon is full. Part of the reason is just that we don’t have free time during the day anymore - we started doing this more regularly when we each started having kids. But it’s also just awesome, especially in winter when the moonlight is reflected by the snow, effectively doubling the overall available light.
Last night the idea was to ride our mountain bikes around on the lake, which is obviously quite frozen. The snow on the top has been melted and re-frozen enough times that it has a nice texture to it, and is firm enough that we didn’t sink through it at all, even my bike with “skinny” regular 29 x 2.3 MTB tires. A couple things stood out about last night’s ride.
First: the causeway. This is a little pile of rocks that connects two small islands, neither of which is inhabited. It’s quite narrow, but one could walk across it in the summer when the water is low. It’s underwater in the spring. I LOVE challenging technical stuff on my bike, and I had to give this thing a go. The only problem was, because it’s so shallow and it’s been sunny, the ice was melted on both sides of the causeway. Worst case scenario was a wet leg, but still, falling was bad (okay, WORST case scenario was falling into the freezing water completely, wedging an ankle between rocks on the way down and emerging totally soaked with a broken ankle and a concussion still 4 miles across a frozen lake from home. And then getting mauled by a bear). But I had to try.
I didn’t make it all the way across without putting a foot down, and to be honest, I am sure I could have but for the consequences of falling off messing with my head. If I knew I could just turn and ride safely down the side at any time, I would have had more confidence to maintain speed, where I stopped out of caution instead. I also tried it a few times without my light on, the moon was bright enough that it wasn’t a problem. One trip with the light was my best go at it, but I quit while I was still dry. Both the other guys with me put their rear tires in the lake, and one couldn’t shift after that because the ice froze in his derailleur. We quit that game while we were ahead, for sure.
The second thing was a fireball. Not Fireball cinnamon whiskey; a really bright meteor. We were riding along slowly, heading east. A bright streak caught my eye and I said quickly “hey-shooting-star-left! look left! left!” And both of my friends had time to turn and see this crazy streak of light that got brighter as it descended across the sky. Colorful fragments split off and it looked like a giant roman candle in the sky. We all were just floored. I googled it this morning and apparently there’s a website for reporting just such a thing (of course there is); there were 87 reports of a fireball over this general area last night, all around the same time - it has to be the same one. From what I understand now, seeing one of these is exceedingly rare
The icing on the proverbial cake was the complete lack of wind last night, making it quite pleasant to just ride around at any pace. It was in the 20's, which made sure things were firm enough to ride on, but it wasn’t “cold.” We jumped off rocks, docks, and snowdrifts, cruised around islands and coves, and sometimes rode for minutes at a time in silence, in awe of the beauty of a frozen lake bathed in moonlight. 7,000 acres of playground all to ourselves. This was a full moon adventure I’ll never forget.
[disclaimer: we have a LOT of experience on ice, on this lake in particular. We were careful and had several safety precautions/measures in place - not to mention, the ice is still thick enough to support motor vehicle traffic in most places]