20080202

Location =  To Sandia Crest and Back - The Hard Way  
Distance =  77.99
Time =  8:33:47
Ave. Speed =  9.1
Max. Speed =  36.0
Monthly Dist. =    77.99
Yearly Dist. =  351.21

A new month has rolled around, and it's time for me to ride up to the crest again. I decided to take the mountain bike, and head up the back road, for only the second time in three years. What was I thinking?

I left the house around 8:30 in the morning, and it was pretty cold out, somewhere in the low 20s. I headed down Tramway passed the casino, and turned north on the road to Bernalillo. I rode up to highway 550, and then turned east to head to Placitas. The road began to climb soon after I crossed the freeway, so I stopped and removed my headband, and took off my winter gloves, in favor of a lighter pair. I continued all the way through Placitas, passing the signs warning the road is mountainous, and closed in the winter. I managed to cover the first 26 miles in about 2 hours, to the end of the pavement. I didn't know it at the time, but the next 8 miles were going to take another 2 hours.

The dirt road was snow covered and icy from the very start, and my progress was slow. There were some big turkey tracks in the snow, at the beginning of the road. The sun was staying right on the edge of some clouds, which made it nice when it shined, but cold when it wasn't. Also, it seemed like the wind would pick up, every time the sun disappeared. After about 2 miles, I became so cold that I had to stop and put my headband back on. I went another 2 miles, and I had to stop again to eat a power bar, because I was beginning to feel fatigue coming on. After a brief rest I continued, and I was able to stay on the bike and ride most of the way, except for a couple of places that were too icy. As I gained elevation, the snow became deeper, and even though there were tire tracks for me to ride in, sometimes the snow would suck my back tire into the softness, and I would be forced to walk. This definitely slowed me down, and sapped my strength. I probably walked more than a mile, out of last two. Near the top I passed a couple of ladies on snowshoes, and one of them said to me, "I'm glad you're doing that, and not me." Right about then, I was wishing that I had a pair of snowshoes. Eventually, through perseverance and determination, I made it out to crest highway, and pavement once again. I still had more than 5 miles to go to get to the top, and it would take me almost 90 more minutes to get there. The temperature was plummeting, and with about 3 miles to go, I had to stop and put my winter gloves back on. My hands were freezing. I finally made it up to the crest, and stumbled inside of the gift shop, to warm up. It was 12 degrees.

I stayed inside for about 20 minutes, and then headed back out into the cold. I wanted to get down to the gas station as soon as possible, because I was low on water, and running behind schedule, but there was a lot of snow and ice on the road, and I had to descend very carefully. As I began the descent, I immediately started to shiver, but as I dropped in elevation, the temperture rose dramatically. It seemed positively warm at the bottom, somewhere in the low 40s. I sucked down a gatorade in the gas station, filled up my water, and then headed back out once my shivering stopped. My next stop was going to be the Sportz Systems bike shop, on Juan Tabo. I needed to drop off my bar ends, for them to install on my new bicycle. That's what my surprise is. I bought a new Santa Cruz Superlight on e-bay, for a steal of a deal.

At Central and Tramway, I was finally warm enough to take off my headband and the winter gloves, and resume a more normal riding existence. I rode up to Lomas, then over to Juan Tabo, and up to the bike shop. I didn't hang around there for very long, because I was running out of daylight, and I really wanted to get home. I headed up Juan Tabo, which is a busy street, so I stayed on the sidewalk, being alert for danger, and trying to avoid it. At the Brentwood Hills cross street, the light turned red, and a lady came to a stop in the crosswalk. I rode into the street, and went around behind her car. As I did she put her car into reverse, and backed up. When I saw her reverse lights come on, I didn't have time to be scared, I only thought about putting my foot to the pedal, and trying to get beyond her car. Her bumper was closing in on my leg, and I thought for a moment about how I was about to have my leg crushed, and be knocked down in the street. My leg barely cleared her bumper, and she hit my rear wheel, and pushed it about 12 inches. We made eye contact, and she had a worried look on her face. I stopped on the corner to inspect the wheel for damage, and there wasn't any. I didn't want to take the time to yell at her for nearly crippling me, and somehow I thought that it was in some way my fault, for riding behind her, even though I tried to cross the street in the safest manner possible. It just goes to show you that you can never really be safe, when you are anywhere near cars. I was just glad that it was a near miss, and not an ambulance ride to the hospital.

After that close call, I only wanted to get home safely. I had an idea that this ride had the potential of being a long one, so I had the foresight of taking along a red blinky light. I turned it on, and made my way back to Tramway for the ride back up the trail to the house. It was now completely dark. When I finally made it to the house, I was thoroughly exausted. I ate, took a shower, and got into bed. I am very glad to have this day be over



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