June 17, 2011

Location =  To Sandia Crest and Back  
Distance =  60.59
Time =  6:27:41
Ave. Speed =  9.3
Max. Speed =  43.0
Monthly Dist. =    60.59
Yearly Dist. =  527.50

I left the house a little before 8:00 a.m. It was a little bit cool and windy so I put on my windbreaker for the downhill to the freeway. As soon as I got out on N337 the wind really picked up and there was a strong headwind right in my face. I didn't mind the wind too much here because I was going downhill, but I was worried that I would have to continue to fight the wind as I climbed through Cedar Crest. More on that in a minute.

I took off my windbreaker at the bottom of the mountain at old 66, and got back on the bike. As I rode along the no man's land between 66 and the freeway off-ramp I saw a couple of baby prairie dogs playing at the edge of the dirt. They were completely oblivious to me and I could have reached down and grabbed them. In Japan they keep them as pets, and other places, probably breakfast. As the dirt came to a point there were about ten more baby prairie dogs and they all ran for cover as I rode up. What was interesting was that there weren't any adult prairie dogs in sight. It was as if the adults had kicked the little ones out of their dens to go play. I can clearly remember my parents doing that same thing to me when I was a little kid.

I rode past Molly's Bar and then made the curve onto N14. It was here that I expected the headwind to return because, once again, I was traveling in a northerly direction and I had just been blasted a few minutes before. Much to my surprise the wind had now become a tailwind. It was as if it came roaring through Tijeras Canyon and made a right turn up S337 to blow in my face, and then made a left turn at N14 to push me along from behind. I didn't really understand it, but I wasn't complaining.

I rode through Cedar Crest aided by the wind and then turned to head up the crest highway. I almost always stop for a break at the beginning of the climb but I was feeling so good that this time I just kept right on going. The wind came back with a vengeance and I really had to stuggle for the first couple of miles of the climb. A couple of times wind gusts came up that were so strong they nearly blew me off of the shoulder. Then at about three or four miles up the road the wind eased up. Yea! I passed the ski area and came up to Capulin which is still undergoing construction. The workers weren't out so I pulled in there for a break. They are completely rebuilding that whole place. There is a new entrance road and all new concrete pads with new picnic tables and barbecue areas. It's going be to really nice when they finish with it. From the looks of it they may be done by the 4th of July.

I rested for a few minutes and scarfed down a few handfulls of trail mix, and then continued the climb. There was one stretch of straightaway before I reached the 10K trailhead where the wind came back and pummeled me for a few minutes, but except for that little stretch it mostly left me alone. It even became a tailwind a few times. I was a happy rider. I had a brief touch of leg cramps above 10,000 feet but I recognized the symptoms and guzzled down a bunch of water to help ward them off. I pulled in to the parking lot at the top and there were only six cars there. That's the beauty of making the climb during the week. I only stopped long enough to check out the thermometer on the door of the gift shop, 54 degrees, and then I headed down. There was so little traffic out that no cars passed me on the way to the bottom. That almost never happens.

I stopped in the gas station to eat a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup and fill up on water and then I headed back through Cedar Crest. The wind that was a tailwind on the way out was now a headwind on the way back, and it was blowing pretty strong. I didn't mind though because temps were in the 80s and they would be in the low 90s by the time I got to Tijeras. Very nice. When I began the climb up S337 to Raven Road the wind continued to push me around for the first three miles or so and the it died down and seemed to become a tailwind again. It was weird that the wind was blowing north and south at the same time, and it seemed like it had probably been doing that all day long. I wasn't about to complain. This ride could have been much more difficult than it was. As I climbed the short steep hill on Raven Road my leg cramps tried to come back but I eased off on the pedals a little, crested the hill and coasted the rest of the way in.

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