Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Location =  To Sandia Crest and Back  
Distance =  62 Miles
Time =  10 Hours (includes breaks)
Ave. Speed =  Slow
Max. Speed =  
Monthly Dist. =    62.0
Yearly Dist. =  62.0

This ride was really hard.

I tried to do this ride about a week and a half ago, but I couldn't get out the door. I had all my clothes laid out and my backpack ready, and I thought I had my bike ready. I was planning on taking my red Cannondale mountain bike because of poor conditions that I was bound to encounter at high elevations, but as I was leaving the house I realized that I didn't have the right pedals on the bike. I grabbed a wrench and tried to take a pair off of my other bikes but I could not get them loose. I became frustated and decided that this was an omen and I should try the ride another day. Looking back, it was probably a good decision that I not go that day. I think that I would have suffered even more than I did on this day. I have been working out for the last week or so to try and get ready for this. At least I know what I'm getting myself into.

Due to all of the recent snow that we have had I decided to take a mountain bike on this ride, rather than my skinny tire road bike. In hindsight, that was probably a mistake, but I had no way of knowing what conditions would be like on the mountain. There would have been a lot of riding that was sketchy but, overall, things would have been a lot easier on the lighter bike with the bigger tires. Oh, well...

I left the house at 8:00 a.m. and headed out into the cold. It was 17 degrees and I was bundled up pretty tightly. I had a face mask on so I couldn't sip my water but I tried blowing the water out of the tube of my camelback before I left the house. It didn't work. I took off my face mask at the sidewalk on the other side of I40 and to my dismay, my water was frozen. I changed my normal routine from stopping in the trees near the Y for my break to stopping at the gas station at the Y for my break. But first, I had to get there.

The sidewalk near the freeway was clear of snow because it faces the sun and I felt hopeful that the sidewalk might be rideable all the way the the Shell station. There were several piles of snow that blocked the way and forced me to go around them in the street, but that was to be expected. As I neared the Triangle Grocery and gained elevation the sidewalk became more and more impassable, forcing me to ride on the side of the road. I hate doing that because everyone is driving 50 mph and I've already been hit once. Please, don't hit me again!

Anyway, by the time I reached mailbox hill the sidewalk was completely hopeless and I tried to pick up the pace to minimize the risk. Everything was fine as I reached the gas station and went inside to warm up and thaw my camelback. That only took a few minutes and I was back out on the road and heading up the mountain.

Right away I knew that it was going to be a long day. My mountain bike didn't have a computer on it so I didn't know exactly how slow I was going, but it felt close to snail like. All I could do was keep turning the pedals. There was a lot of dirt and debris and slush and snow and ice, but generally, I had decent road to ride on. Some of the shadier curves were iced up and forced me out into the road, but the ski area was closed and there was very little traffic. The weather was cooperating nicely, as temps were in the 30s, there was no wind, and not a cloud in the sky. Really beautiful. Everything was looking good when I felt the twinge of a cramp in my left hamstring. I drank a bunch of water and eased off of the pedals a little bit, and managed to avoid any issues with leg cramps.

Eventually, I made it up to Capulin and stopped by the gate to eat a PowerBar. Usually, I sit at a picnic table in the sun, but I could only see a little bit of the table sticking out of the snow. I was feeling fatigued as I stood by the road and I was trying to will myself into having more energy. It didn't really work. The next stretch of the ride from Capulin to 10K trailhead was very difficult and I was suffering. Thoughts of, "Why am I doing this?" and "Maybe I should quit." fill my head, but then I think about how "I've made it this far," and "I can't give up now," and somehow, I keep going.....

Above 10,000 feet my suffering only got worse. I resorted to taking short breaks on the bike and trying to gain strength for the next few minutes of climbing. I passed a snowplow and a dump truck that were working to clear the road back to the guardrail. They had to stop for a minute and let me get around them. As I slowly climbed the final mile I was studying the road, trying to find the best line through the slush and the snow. That's when I noticed a little ball of slush, a couple of inches from my front wheel, begin to move! As I rode past the little guy, it looked like the fattest mouse I had ever seen. I think that it was a shrew. It was strange to see a life existing at 10,500 feet high in the middle of winter. Amazing!

I felt a great relief when I finally arrived at the top. I went inside to reward myself with a choclate chip cookie and they didn't have any. I had to settle for a chocolate covered rice krispie treat. Oh, well. I didn't spend too much time at the top because I knew that I was running late on this ride. I tucked everything in and zipped everything up and I headed out the door. It was 30 degrees at the top which was very comfortable.

The ride down was fun. The fatter tires makes the ride a lot more stable -- and slower. I made it to the gas station where I filled up on water and then headed for home. I had to ride on the side of the highway for several miles before I crossed the road and got up on the sidewalk. The cars mde an obvious effort to go around me by changing lanes, and I appreciated that.

The climb back up 337 was excruciatingly slow and difficult. It seemed to take forever as I crawled up the mountain at a snail's pace. Daylight was also disappearing slowly and by the time I got to Raven Road it was almost completely dark. The end was near and I turned on Peacock for the final stretch. I was less than a mile from home when I saw the sillhouette of a large dog right in the middle of the street. I was in no mood for a confrontation with a dog so I yelled at it, "Do not fuck with me!" The next thing that happened is, the dog ran away. He could tell that he didn't want a confrontation with me.

Moments later I was walking in the door. It was 6:00 p.m. so this ride had taken me ten hours. My wife was on the phone with some neighbor friends of ours, discussing a possible search party. I think that she was more relieved that I was home than I was. It was good to be home.

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