February 22, 2012

Location =  To Sandia Crest and Back  
Distance =  61.61
Time =  7:05:15
Ave. Speed =  8.6
Max. Speed =  43.0
Monthly Dist. =    61.61
Yearly Dist. =  123.47

I woke up early to the sound of the wind howling through the trees. I hate that. I thought about putting off the attempt on the crest until next week, but I didn't want to take the risk that it might be even worse. I lucked out last month, but what are the chances that it will work out two months in a row? I put on all my layers and headed out the door a little before 8:00 a.m. It was pretty cold with temps in the low 20s and the wind was blowing strong.

I rode down 337 to the freeway, fighting a strong headwind all the way. Once I got down there the wind wasn't so bad and when I reached the sidewalk on N14 I took off my facemask and overmitts. The ride through Cedar Crest went smoothly and I stopped at my break spot to eat a PowerBar. After a few minutes I was ready to make the big climb and I headed upward. Near the bottom there are a few houses on the road and one of them had a big chocolate lab out front that I hadn't seen before. When he saw me he stood up and started barking which made me a little nervous so I crossed over to the other side of the street. His tail was wagging but I pulled out my pepper spray and got it ready, just in case.

The wind had completely died down for the first half of the climb and it didn't return until I reached the bottom of the ski area. The parking lot at the ski area was deserted and I found out later that it was because it was too windy to start up the chairlifts that went to the top of the mountain. As I climbed past the parking lot gusts of wind pushed me around a little bit but they were only intermittent. I continued up to Capulin where I went under the the gate and found a spot between snowdrifts where the wind was sort of blocked and I laid down on the asphault to rest. I ate another PowerBar and a few minutes later I was ready for more climbing. I put my facemask back on and headed out.

The road from Capulin all the way to the top was pretty much covered with ice water from melting snow. I was glad that I had remembered to put on my rear fender which would reduce my suffering on the way down. I was climbing up toward the 10K trailhead plodding along and listening to my music, when all of a sudden a bike rider came flying past me. I said, "How's it going?" and he was out of sight in about a minute. I continued upward and a short time later I saw him again as he was heading down. We waved at each other. I finally made it up to the top and I went inside to warm up and dry off my clothes. The temperature was 29 degrees which wasn't too bad, and the wind seemed to have let up a bit, also. I tucked everything in and zipped everything up and out I went heading for the bottom, and my next stop -- Pinkies.

I took it pretty easy on the way down because of the spray of ice water, but at least the temperatures were rising as I was descending. When I got about a mile below the ski area I saw the bike rider again on his way back up. Amazing! I knew this guy was a pro. We waved again and I continued down to Pinkies. Temps were in the 50s down at the bottom and I was feeling good. After I ate a red chile brisket burrito at Pinkies I was feeling great, and ready to make the final push back to the house. I didn't need the facemask anymore, I traded in my hat for a headband, I put away my gloves, and I headed up 337.

I was about halfway up the mountain when the bike rider from over by the crest came flying by me, again! I yelled out to him, "You're the Man!" and he turned all the way around and looked at me with a surprised look on his face. He yelled back at me, "How are you doing?" and I could detect a European accent. I knew he would be coming back and down and when he did I had to talk to him and shake his hand. About 20 minutes later I saw him coming down and I darted across the highway to the other shoulder and waited for him to get there.

He stopped and I said, "You are the Man! What's your name?" He said, "Louise." Then I asked him if he had really climbed all the way to the crest, twice, and of course, the answer was, yes. I asked him if he was a professional bike rider and the answer to that was yes, as well. Then he asked me, "What year are you?" My answer to that was, "54" and he gave me a nod of appreciation. We shook hands again and off we went in our separate directions. I felt like I had just met a bicycle God and I'll be looking for Louise in the Tour of the Gila bike race in the beginning of May, which I'm pretty sure is what he is training for.

I finished the ride back to the house with a big smile on my face and totally psyched up about being back on the bike. You ROCK Louise!

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