July 28, 2011

Location =  To Sandia Crest and Back  
Distance =  61.26
Time =  6:20:37
Ave. Speed =  9.6
Max. Speed =  40.0
Monthly Dist. =    61.26
Yearly Dist. =  588.76

I don't think that I have ever done a Streak Ride as late in the month as I did this one. It wasn't my fault. The Forest Service closed the forests at the end of June including the road to the crest, due to fire danger. I was beginning to plan about how I would illegally make the climb up the to the top of the mountain in case it didn't start raining, just to keep the Streak going. I was thinking that maybe I would try to make a ride in the dark on Friday night and hope that I wouldn't get caught. Luckily, it didn't have to come to that. It started raining a week or so ago and the Stage III fire restrictions were lifted a few days ago and the road was opened, just in the nick of time.

I left the house at 7:00 a.m. in the morning to get a nice early start and to hopefully miss any afternoon showers that might develop. I took along all of my rain gear just in case, but I didn't want to have to use it. I was feeling pretty good about this ride because I have been riding indoors on the stationary trainer for the last couple of weeks. That goes a long way towards helping to reduce my pain and suffering. It was a little bit cool as I got going but not so cool that I needed a jacket. It was looking like it was going to be a beautiful day.

I cruised down the mountain to 66 and then headed for Cedar Crest. It was still early enough and cool enough that the prairie dogs weren't out yet. As I started up North 14 another bicyclist went flying past me. I would see him again later as I was climbing toward the Capulin Snow Play Area which is about 5 miles from the crest. Assuming that he went to the top of the crest which I'm sure he did, that would make him 10 miles ahead of me. That guy was really fast.

I continued through Cedar Crest, made the turn at the Y and began the long climb. I was feeling pretty good so I didn't take my usual break at the bottom and just kept on riding. I did seem to be sweating more than usual and it was the kind of sweat that stung when it ran in my eyes. Trying to wipe the sweat away was ineffective so I just dealt with it. It might have been worse than usual because there was no wind to help evaporate it away. The air was unusually still on the mountain.

I climbed up to Capulin and as I neared it I began to overtake another rider. It made me feel good to know that there was someone else out there that was even slower than I was. I needed a short break but Capulin was crawling with construction workers so I went a little further and took a break in a meadow. I had some trail mix with me but I didn't feel like eating, so I just rested a few minutes and then continued the climb. I took another short, on-the-bike rest at 10,000 feet and then headed to the top. A couple miles from the top a guy passing me in a car yelled out, "Good Job." That always make me feel good. About a mile and a half from the top I felt a twinge of cramps in both legs so I drank a bunch of water and then eased on in to the parking lot. I check the thermometer on the gift shop door which read 58 degrees, and then headed down.

The trip down started out cool at first as my sweat was evaporating, but it warmed up quickly as I descended. By the time I reached the bottom it was probably near 90 degrees. On the way down I passed a deer that was on the side of the road at about 9000 feet, eating some vegetation. Nearer to the bottom between Doc Long and La Cienega I saw a big bear poop on the side of the road. I went down to the gas station and filled up on water. I usually get a candy bar or something but I still didn't feel like eating. After a few minutes I headed back out on the road. As I rode back through Cedar Crest I saw a squished rattlesnake at the edge of the road. It was about 2 feet long and it had that unmistakeable rattle on his tail. A busy highway is no place for a snake, but I'm kind of glad it wasn't alive and on the sidewalk.

I rode back to Tijeras and then started the climb up to Raven Road. I noticed some dark clouds higher up on the mountain in the area where I was headed, but it didn't look like it was raining yet. As I climbed higher and higher the clouds got darker and darker. At about Ramblewood lightning and thunder began. I contemplated as to whether or not my carbon fiber road bike was a lightning rod. I hoped that it wasn't. At Pine Flat it began to rain lightly and at Entrada de Cibola it began to pour. I hate riding in the rain. I wasn't that far from home but I got so cold so fast that I had to pull over and dig out my raincoat. I decided that my rain pants wouldn't be necessary because I was probably less than 30 minutes from the house. If I would have been about 45 minutes faster or 45 minutes slower I think that I would have missed the rain entirely. Oh well.

I finally made it back to the house, wet and tired, but feeling good. Streak Ride #79 was over. I never did eat anything on this ride. I don't think that has ever happened before.

After the ride: This didn't happen during the ride but it was so cool that I want to add it here anyway. I made it back, took a shower and was eating lunch at my kitchen table when I looked out the window and saw a big bobcat walking through the front yard. He was hunting something because he didn't look left, he didn't look right, he was totally focused straight ahead on whatever it was he was tracking. Awesome!

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