January 31, 2012

Location =  To Sandia Crest and Back  
Distance =  61.86
Time =  7:18:28
Ave. Speed =  8.4
Max. Speed =  37.0
Monthly Dist. =    61.86
Yearly Dist. =  61.86

It took me until the last day of the month to get this ride in and continue The Streak. I've been working at the Sandia Peak Ski Area and going to school, which leaves me with Tuesdays to try and get up the mountain. I wanted to make the attempt last Tuesday but when I woke up there was already three inches of snow on the ground and more on the way. I decided to put it off until the last day of the month and hope for the best. It's always possible that there could be a blizzard or it could be raining or I could have mechanical or physical problems. It was a risk but this time it worked out in my favor. The day turned out to be one of the most perfect January days that I could have hoped for.

I left the house around 7:30 in the morning. It was 25 degrees out which is cold but it could have been a lot worse. I had most of my cold-weather clothing on but not my face mask or my booties. The ride down to the freeway was pretty frigid but once I got down there the temperature was already substantially warmer than up at the house. I took off my heavy gloves and traded my hat for a headband and headed through Cedar Crest. I stopped at my break spot near the Y but I had to find a new area in the sun because my usual spot was blanketed in snow.

After a few minutes of rest I started the long climb to the top. The nice thing about doing the ride to the crest on a Monday or a Tuesday is that the ski area is closed and there is very little traffic. It hadn't snowed in a week so I was able to take my road bike as the road was generally free of ice and snow. I climbed up to the Capulin Snow Play Area which has been completely rebuilt and totally closed for the winter. I'm not sure that I understand the reasoning behind spending a bunch of money on a reacreation area and then not letting anybody use it. Only the Forest Service knows for sure.

I scarfed down a PowerBar and then continued on up to the top. The parking lot up there only had four cars in it and probably at least two of them were for workers at the gift shop and snack bar. I have never seen it so deserted. I went inside to warm up a little bit and chow down on another PowerBar. After a few minutes I suited up and went back out for the downhill run. It was 31 degrees which is very warm for this time of year when you are above 10,000 feet in elevation.

As I left the top there was a Sysco truck there that had been making deliveries to the snack bar and he was stopped at the end of the parking lot. I'm not sure what he was doing but maybe he was making sure his brakes were working. I went around him and started down. About ten minutes later I heard a noise behind me and he was flying down the road. I pulled over and let him by. I half expected to find him crashed through a guard rail somewhere down the moutain but he must have made it okay.

There were a bunch of spots where water was on the road from melting snow and I would slow down for them so as to minimize the icy water shower that I would get off of my tires as I went through them. Somewhere near the bottom I hit a pothole and as I neared the Y I felt my front tire start to go soft. I had a pinch flat. Luckily, I was fairly close to the gas station where I knew they have free air so I walked there and changed out my damaged tube. I went inside and filled up on water and then headed for Pinkies for one of her delicious red chili brisket burritos. Fabulous!

I left Pinkies re-energized and feeling good and headed for home. The climb back up to Raven Road was uneventful and I made it before I ran out of daylight. I was pushing my luck waiting until the last day of the month to make the ride but it all worked out and The Streak lives on.

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