Sunday, July 30, 2017

Location =  To Sandia Crest and Back  
Distance =  61.62
Time =  7:05:38
Ave. Speed =  8.7
Max. Speed =  36.8
Monthly Dist. =    99.73
Yearly Dist. =  579.29

151 months in a row and this is the closest that I have come to not being able to complete the ride. Thirteen days ago the situation looked bleak. I was playing tennis when I felt something "pop" in the back of my left calf. I could not walk, never mind ride a bicycle. I was very sad. The first few days were incredibly painful and I needed a cane to get around. An MRI showed a complete tear of the tendon of the medial gastrocnemius muscle of my left leg. There was a 2 centimeter gap between the tendon and the bone. Ouch!

After about a week the pain started to let up and I began to think that it might be possible to get my ride in this month. My leg only hurt when it was subjected to turning forces and pedalling a bicycle doesn't have any of those when my foot is clipped into my pedal. Maybe....... On day ten I rode on a stationary bike for 15 minutes. It felt good. The next day I rode for 15 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the afternoon. It felt good. The next day I had an appointment with the doctor.

The doctor admitted that he knew nothing about a tendon tear and he needed to refer me to a specialist. I had some questions that I wanted to ask but he just cut me off and refused to have a discussion. He was very rude and useless. My wife managed to ask him if it would be okay for me to go on a 60 mile bike ride the following day, and he said, "Absolutely not!" I decided that he was full of shit and later that afternoon I rode on the spin bike for 60 minutes and it felt good. I was very confidant that I could ride to the crest and back, especially if I took it easy which I promised myself I would do.

I left the house around 7:30 a.m. which is a half an hour earlier than usual. I wanted to have plenty of time to take long breaks and not try to push things too hard. Temps were in the low 50s and skies were a little bit gray as I headed down 337. When the Sandias came into view I could see that they were shrouded in thick, dark clouds that obscured the mountain in a scary looking blanket of storm clouds. Rain was a possibility but I was prepared. I had my raincoat, rainpants, and even rain socks. I was hoping that the clouds would burn off and I wouldn't need any of my extra gear.

I rolled into my break spot at the Y feeling good. My leg was doing well and the clouds appeared to be breaking up. So far, so good! I started the climb in a low gear and at a slow speed. I was grooving on my music and enjoying my spin as I made my way towards the top. I didn't mind when a half a dozen riders passed me. I was just happy to be on the road.

I took my second break at Capulin and the sky started to look a bit scarier. There were dark clouds forming to the north and to the south. I was hoping that they would stay away long enough for me to make it to the top. As I approached the 10K trailhead with about three miles to go to the top, it started to rain lightly. It was a very mellow rain. Not enough to get me wet and make me cold, but just enough to keep me cool and feeling energized.

I slowly snaked my way toward the top as the rain held steady at a light drizzle. There were large storms brewing to the north and south of me, and the storm to the north looked especially frightening. Flashes of lightning and loud thunder appeared to be closing in on me. Just let me get to the top......

I made it, and not a moment too soon! As soon as I reached the parking lot the two storms converged and the rain started coming down a lot harder. I made my way to the overhang by the gift shop so I could put on my rain gear. There was another bike rider already there and he didn't have any rain gear to put on. He went inside to the snack bar and they gave him a cardboard box which he tore up into pieces and stuffed inside his jersey. We both knew that it was going to a tough ride down.

I put on my raincoat but for some reason I decided that I wouldn't need my rainpants. I must have been thinking that the rain would be short lived and only last a few miles. Wrong! I headed out into the storm and the rain intensified to an unbelievable downpour. I was doing okay until it began raining so hard and so fast that my brakes quit working. My wheels were so wet that no amount of friction could dry them off and stop the bike. My hands were aching as I came into 20 mph curves frightingly fast. This was ridiculous. I pulled over at the 10K trailhead and dug my rainpants out of my pack. That was a smart decision.

I left 10K just as the other guy was coming down from the top. I told him that it was raining so hard that I had to pull over. He said that he did also, hiding out under a tree. I truly believe that that was the hardest rain that I have ever had the misfortune of riding in. The worst of it was over but it still rained for the next 8 miles or so. I was totally soaked and frozen when I finally made it to the gas station.

It was a relief to be done with that descent and now I had to warm up my hands. It took about 20 minutes before I had enough feeling back in my fingers that I could get back on the road. When I was finally ready to get back on my bicycle, wouldn't you know it, it started raining again. The rain stayed fairly light and it only lasted for about three miles or so. Finally, I could put my raincoat back in my pack.

I stuck to my plan of taking it easy and spun my way back up 337 and back to the house. 337 was soaked but it happened before I got there, and for that -- I am glad. All in all, it was a successful ride. My leg didn't have any issues and I am Happy!

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