Wild Ice


Wild Ice

Bob Allen is a longlong adventurer, photographer, and storyteller. In recent years, he’s experimented with a new interactive 360º environmental mapping technology. We’re stoked to present his latest project, dubbed ‘Wild Ice’, so read on for Bob’s words and a 360º map by clicking through below.

Tick. Tick. Tick…

It turns out 60 seconds was a long time to ride no-handed – with my eyes shut. The rotation of my cranks was the only feedback that I had any forward motion. Arms outstretched, I just had to trust my balance and resist the temptation to visually confirm that eating shit wasn’t imminent. Relax. Breath. Just keep pedaling…

In the waning days of winter, when the longer, warming days inspire others to embark on desert pilgrimages in search of tacky terra firma, my mind turns to the last gasp of big, wild ice riding. Ephemeral, expansive and ever changing, with the unnerving potential of hypothermia or drowning, this landscape has become one of my favorite surface mediums that offers a truly unique and creative cycling experience.

When I finally opened my eyes, I was giddy with the silliness of my self-challenge – and dazzled by the brilliance of the frozen world. The skiff of snow on the ice created a blank white canvas stretching to the distant shores – and provided a modicum of increased traction for the non-studded tires. On this particular day, most of the 60 square miles of Canyon Ferry reservoir, the first dam on the Missouri River outside of Townsend, Montana, was ridable – no shortage of ‘road’ ride possibilities.

Taking a narrow-tired bike out for a rip when it is hard and smooth becomes enlightened pedaling. You can spin at road speeds for miles in any direction free of man-made constraints and distractions. No lanes? No worries. And no thought of being squished by inattentive drivers ( holes left by ice fishermen and open water are another story… ) It is quite a liberating feeling.

My favorite zone out there is along the shore where the process of the reservoir draw-down during the winter causes the edges to collapse and upend leaving a jumble of translucent berms and natural-born kickers. The result is literally miles of slopestyle-esque features where one can transition from the shoreline bluffs into hard-packed, snow-filled gullies then out onto the ice – and back again. No one ride is ever the same with plenty of worthy challenges that far exceed my skillset and bravado.

By now, a few weeks later, the opportunity has passed for the season. The landscape has melted, on its slow descent toward the Gulf of Mexico. In the coming months of dirt and heat, I will reflect fondly on spinning and chilling in this altered state. Until next year, my frosty friend…