November 20, 2013

Location =  I Didn't Make It To Sandia Crest And Back  
Distance =  37.84
Time =  4:02:21
Ave. Speed =  9.3
Max. Speed =  37.0
Monthly Dist. =    37.84
Yearly Dist. =  1017.38

This ride was a lot longer than the time indicates. I think that there is about 10 miles missing. Probably my bicycle computer got shorted out from all the water and quit working.

I left the house about 8:00 in the morning and headed down the hill. Temps were in the 30s as I left and the forecast was for a decent day with only a small chance of rain or snow. The next day a major storm was supposed to arrive and stick around for several days. Hence, this was my chance to get in my ride for November. I was soon to learn how wrong forecasts can be.

I cruised down to the freeway and then headed through Cedar Crest to my break spot. As I approached the Y I could see lots of very low and very dark clouds. It looked very ominous and I was heading right for it. I took a short break at my break spot and then started the long climb up. Almost immediately I found myself inside of a cloud. It was rather peaceful with fog swirling around and water droplets were collecting on my jacket. Every 20 minutes or so I would shake my arms and shed the water off of me. My legs were starting to get cold because they weren't shedding the water but rather soaking it up. I could have used my rain pants but I didn't bring them along. That was a mistake.

I continued my climb and as I did, so climbed the moisture content of the cloud. I was beginning to get seriously wet and I wasn't even to the ski area yet. To make things worse, the temperature was falling which caused the rain to turn into snow and me to become seriously cold. I got to the ski area and the downhill section that's right there made me shiver. The wind cut right through my ice water soaked legs. All I had on was a pair of thermal tights and they were not keeping me warm. I was wishing for rain pants and booties but I had neither. Bummer. I had come this far - I didn't want to quit. That's not completely true. I did want to quit - I just forced myself to continue. I tried channeling my internal energy to warm the lower half of my body which seemed to work for a little while, but then the intense cold came back. The snow was coming down in near blizzard conditions and I found myself shaking my arms off every couple of minutes to get rid of the snow that was piling up. I skipped taking a break at Capulin and tried to keep going. As I neared the 10K trailhead a couple in a truck pulled over and offered to give me a ride to the top. I told them "No, thanks." Then I started thinking about what happens if I make it to the top and the gift shop is closed? I won't be able to warm up and I'll have to turn around and head downhill through 13 1/2 miles of ice water covered road. Not a pleasant prospect. I was already freezing cold and I still had about three miles to go to the top. At the rate I was going it was going to take me another hour to get there. Just then a guy coming down the mountain pulled over and told me that it was getting very icy up near the top and that maybe I should rethink trying to continue. I asked him if the gift shop was open and he said that he didn't know because he never got out of his car. I gave it about five seconds of thought and I decided to quit. That was not an easy decision to make.

I stopped to tuck my shirt in, lower the rain flap on my jacket, put on my facemask, my heavy gloves and overmitts, and then I headed down. My tires were spraying me with ice water and the wind from heading downhill felt like a knife was cutting through me. My legs and feet were agonizingly cold. Once again, I was wishing for my booties and rain pants. I was burned by the weather forecast which said that today would be fine. It was entirely, NOT FINE!

Oh, well. I toughed out the ride down the mountain and I was very happy to go into the gas station to warm up. I sat at one of their tables and immediately a small lake began to form under me where water was flowing off of me. It got so bad that one of the employees came over with a mop to soak it up while I was still sitting there. Everywhere I walked - to fill my water, go to the restroom and buy a candy bar, left a dirty, watery footprint on the floor. I did apologize for making a mess and the lady told me not to worry about it.

I lost my cell phone a couple of weeks ago and I was debating borrowing someone's cell phone and calling my loving wife to come and pick me up. It didn't look too bad outside so I decided to hop on my bike and head for home. As I crested the mailbox hill I could see very dark and scary clouds exactly in the direction I was headed. The last thing I wanted to suffer through was being rained on for the ten mile climb back up to the house. At the next gas station which was the Phillip 66 I did ask a guy if I could borrow his phone and call my wife. She didn't answer so I left a message and gave the guy his phone back and went on my way.

A few minutes later he was in the center turn lane of the highway saying that my wife called back and that she was coming to pick me up. I asked him if he would call her and have her meet me at the Tijeras Post Office. He told me that he would. We successfully rendezvoused at the post office and my day of misery was finally at an end.

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