2010/01/07

Location =  To Sandia Crest (not even close) and Back  
Distance =  49.13
Time =  5:22:21
Ave. Speed =  9.1
Max. Speed =  36.5
Monthly Dist. =    49.13
Yearly Dist. =  49.13

I had good intentions starting out on this ride, even though circumstances did not look favorable for me. I haven't done any riding in the last month, and I am weak and out of shape. Also, the weather did not cooperate. If I had done this ride the day before or the day after, I think that I would have made it. On this day however, it was not to be the case.

The weather forecast was for cold, but as I left the house it didn't feel too bad, maybe around 20 degrees. I was dressed for it and I headed out before 7:00 a.m. into the dawn. I took my red street bike and headed down the Tramway Trail, every once in a while checking to make sure that my water tube wasn't freezing up. I reached Central Avenue without a problem, and made the turn into Tijeras Canyon. That's when the ride turned into the trip from hell. I immediately was blasted with a frigid headwind that slowed my progress to a crawl. This was going to be even harder than I thought. To make matters worse, the temperature in the canyon was at least 10 degrees colder than up at the house.

Less than halfway into the canyon my water began to freeze. I tried to drink from the tube to keep the water flowing, but it was no use. I couldn't seem to pedal and drink enough, at the same time. I stopped for a few minutes and tried to thaw the thing out with my hands and mouth but it was hopeless. I decided to ride through the canyon with frozen water and then go in the post office at the other end to thaw it out. That plan worked and after about 15 minutes in the post office I was back out on the road.

The wind subsided a little bit as I left the canyon and headed up through Cedar Crest, however, the temperature seemed to be getting even colder, and it started to snow lightly. It was so cold that even though I was conscious of the fact that I had to take a drink every five minutes to keep my water from freezing, it still froze. I was starting to feel the effects of the cold on my body, so the only thing I could do was to get to the "Y" and go in the gas station and warm up. As I neared the "Y" the sky had a thick layer of clouds hanging very low around the mountain, and the trees were encrusted in a thick layer of frost. If conditions were this brutal at the bottom of the mountain I could only imagine what it would be like when I got a couple thousand feet higher. I was very cold when I finally got to the gas station to warm up.

After about 20 minutes indoors my water was flowing again and so was my blood, and I was ready to try to press onward. I took a PowerBar out of my pack and put it down my pants to try and warm it up a bit so that I could eat it at some point during the climb. I left the comfort of the gas station and entered a very beautiful and very frigid world. Temperatures were probably in the single digits. As I began the climb I started to think about what I was getting myself into. My water had already frozen twice. What made me think that I could keep it from freezing for a third time? If it froze I could stop at the ski area to thaw it out, but that would slow down an already slow ride even more, and that might put me in danger of being out after dark. And what about after that? And then there's the ride back down. Could I endure the windchill that I would be subjecting myself to? My hands and feet were already frozen and I was hours away from reaching the crest. What am I thinking???

As I climbed up past Doc Long the reality of the situation started setting in. There is no way that I can do this. My ski gloves are not doing their job and my fingers are frozen. The rest of my body is shutting down from the cold and all of my pedaling isn't enough to keep me warm. Fatigue is overcoming me and I still have about 11 miles to go. I know when to quit and this moment was it. I dug the PowerBar out of my pants, and I was amazed to find that it was still frozen as hard as a rock. I had to gnaw pieces off and warm them in my mouth so that I could chew and swallow them. I probably should find a different product to take along on the winter rides but I really do like PowerBars.

Before I began the ride down the mountain I looked up at that low cloud ceiling and thought about what it would be like to be inside of it. I was a little bit sad that I wasn't going to be able to find out, but I knew that I was making the right decision. This was just too much. I barely remember the ride back down to gas station. I was freezing cold and thinking about glove combinations that could handle this sort of cold. I do have some ideas. I breathed a sigh of relief as I pulled back into the gas station, because I knew that the worst was over. I hung out warming up for another 20 minutes or so and then it was back to pedaling.

As I headed back through Cedar Crest things started to warm up a bit. Temps were probably in the teens which was still mighty cold, but bearable. I made the turn into Tijeras Canyon and that vicious headwind from earlier in the day was now a blessed tailwind. Yippee! The wind blew my like a rocket and it seemed like just a couple of minutes and I was all the way back to Tramway, and heading up the trail back to the house.

Better luck next time.....



Return to Cool Dust Main Page