20081205

Location =  To Sandia Peak and Back -- Almost  
Distance =  59.07
Time =  5:33:22
Ave. Speed =  10.6
Max. Speed =  35.5
Monthly Dist. =    59.07
Yearly Dist. =  3199.70

This ride was for Dorothy.

My mother-in-law, Dorothy, passed away yesterday. She had lived with us for most of the past seven years. There's an emptiness in the house that won't soon go away. We love you Dorothy and we hope that you are in a better place.

My plan was to ride up to the crest, but I underestimated how cold it was going to be. I left the house around 9:00 a.m. and headed down Tramway. It was cool out, and I had on my full-fingered gloves, headband, and thin long underwear. The wind cut through the long underwear, but I figured that the temperature would warm up as the day went along, and I would also. My plan was working as I headed down Tramway, and then into Tijeras Canyon. I turned up North 14 through Cedar Crest, and then began the climb up the Crest Highway. I stopped near the Tinkertown Museum, and took a picture of this Winter Regulations sign. I was hoping to take a few more pictures when I reached the top, but it wasn't going to happen.

Temps were supposed to be in the 50s in town, so I had guessed that they would probably be in the 20s by the time I reached the top of the mountain. That's bearable if it gets cold near the top. If it's cold near the bottom, then I'm in trouble. It soon became apparent that I was in going to be in trouble. Big trouble. Shortly after I began climbing, the temperature began dropping. Some of the shaded curves near the bottom were snow covered and icy, and the ice wasn't melting. I began to have doubts as to whether I was going to make it to the top, but I didn't want to give up without a fight. I continued to climb, the temperature continued to fall, and the wind started to blow. I was becoming increasingly concerned, but I still wasn't ready to quit. The shady curves were becoming icier and more snow covered, and for greater distances. What was it going to be like when I got close to the top?

I passed the ski area and I knew that the temps were in the teens. My fingers and toes were beginning to freeze, and I was thinking of places where I might be able to stop and warm up, because I knew I wasn't going to make it without finding some shelter. I thought that if I could jump up and down for a few minutes, I could warm up enough to go another mile or so. I still had more than five miles to go before I reached the summit, and it was going to take more than an hour to reach the top from where I was, considering the difficult conditions. I could warm up inside the gift shop at the top, but what about the ride down? It would be numbingly cold, and the icy spots would force me to slow down because of the skinny tires on my road bike. Still -- I didn't want to quit. Just then a powerful blast of wind hit me, and nearly stopped me in my tracks. That was all I needed. I turned around and headed for the gas station. Streak Ride #48 was going to have to wait until another day. I will need more clothing to withstand this sort of experience.

The warmth of the gas station was a welcome relief. I hung out for about 20 minutes, and scarfed down a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup while my fingers and toes thawed out. I topped off the water in my camelback, and then I headed back into the great outdoors.

I took another break as I rode back through Tijeras Canyon, and the temps were about 40 degrees warmer than they were on the mountain. Very nice. The entire day was sunshine and crystal clear blue skies. I think that it would have been a spectacular view at the top, if only I had made it.



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