2009/06/04

Location =  To Sandia Crest and Back  
Distance =  70.56
Time =  7:58:02
Ave. Speed =  8.8
Max. Speed =  42.0
Monthly Dist. =    70.56
Yearly Dist. =  487.71

Streak Ride #54 is now in the books, and it wasn't easy. It seems like the less I ride the harder they get. It makes perfect sense. My wife asks me why I don't quit the Streak, but I can't bring myself to do it, no matter how much suffering I have to put myself through. The Streak Rides are a connection that I have to a time in my life when I used to do lots of riding. I'm afraid that if I stop the Streak Rides that I will lose a part of me that I want to keep.

I decided to start this ride very early so that I could take my time and take as many breaks as I needed. It was 6:45 when I went out the door, and it was still cool enough that I need my jacket. The sun was already up over the main part of town but it hadn't come up over the edge of the mountain enough to warm up the trail along Tramway. It showed up for a couple of minutes near San Rafael Street but then disappeared again behind the mountain. It didn't show up for good for a few more miles.

I made the turn into Tijeras Canyon and right away I was hit with a stiff headwind. I was hoping that it wouldn't last, and it didn't. By the time I got about halfway through the canyon the wind eased up, which made me very happy. I rode through Cedar Crest and took a break at my spot at the bottom of the mountain.

I didn't have any PowerBars at home so I took two apples and a banana along with me. I ate my first apple which was kind of dried up. I scraped all the skin off with my teeth and then ate the insides. I was not going to throw it away because I knew that I was going to need the energy.

I took my coat off to start the big climb and it was soaked with sweat. I didn't realize that I had been working that hard. I started up the road at a leisurely pace and I noticed that there were hundreds of twists of metal wire about 6" long all along the shoulder of the road. I think that they came from somebody's steel-belted radial tire. There were slivers of metal all the way to the top of the mountain. I wonder where that car was when its tire finally disintegrated.

Another thing that I noticed was how amazingly green everything was. The contrast between the east side of the mountain and the west side is amazing. All the snow has melted and the plants and trees are enjoying the results.

I rode past the ski area and then up to the Capulin Snow Play Area, where I took another break. I stopped at a picnic table in the sun and ate the banana. I took my sweat-soaked jacket out of my backpack and spread it out on the table. In three minutes it was totally dry. There are some advantages in living in a dry climate.

I continued climbing, hoping to make it to the 10K trailhead before I had to rest again, but I just couldn't make it. With about a mile to go light-headedness forced me to a stop. While I was resting a young lady passed me by. A couple of minutes later I started pushing the pedals again and soon I passed her as she was resting on her bike. It's tough up there at high elevation. She quickly caught back up to me and we talked for a few minutes before she pulled away. Not long after that a guy passed me by like I was standing still. I've got to get in better shape. When I got to the top I ate my other apple and then talked to the guy that had passed me for a few minutes. He was waiting for a friend of his who had just come out from Illinois. You know that the elevation was tearing him up.

I checked the thermometer at the top and it was 54 degrees. It was cold enough to wear my jacket but I knew that once I dropped down a few miles I wouldn't need it, so I did without. I began the descent and everything was proceeding normally. I zoomed past the 10K Trailhead and about a half a mile further I got the shock of my life. A bear ran across the road right in front me. I grabbed all of the brakes that I had and I went from 35 miles an hour to 0 in about two seconds. I was stopped in the road and the bear stopped too, about 50 feet from me. He raised up on his haunches and glared at me. The bear was huge. He was easily three times my size and had to weigh more than 500 pounds. If he came at me it was going to be all over. All I could think was, "Please go bear, please go bear, please go bear..." and he did. Sorry mom, a bear bell would not have helped.

After that brief encounter I continued down the mountain to the gas station to fill up on water and scarf down a candy bar. After a few minutes I headed back toward town.

I was on the trail alongside Tramway near Indian School passing through the big prarie dog colony which seemed to have undergone a major population explosion. There were dozens of baby prairie dogs running all over the place. One of them ran right in front of my wheel. I missed squishing the little guy by an inch. I never even had time to brake.

I continued up the trail heading for home, but my fun wasn't done yet. As I crossed Menaul my front tire went flat. This totally depressed me because I knew that I had a spare tube, but I had forgotten my pump. I tried to ride on the flat tire for a little while, but the tire slipped off of the rim and got jammed in the brakes, causing me to crash to the ground. That's the first time that I have ever hit the pavement on my road bike, after four years and 7000 miles. I banged my left elbow a little bit and drew some blood from my left shin, but it wasn't too bad. I thought about calling my wife to pick me up but she was working, and if I couldn't make it back to house under my own power than that would void the Streak Ride and I would have to do it again before the end of June. I was about six miles from the house so I started to walk.

I walked all the way up to Manitoba Street which was about halfway home when another bike rider asked me if I needed anything. I told him that I had a spare tube but that I needed a pump. He had some CO2 so he stopped and helped me air up the tire and I was able to ride the rest of the way home. Thanks Matt!

This was an eventful Streak Ride, and I was very happy when it was over.



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