01/01/06

Location =        Albuquerque to Sandia Crest
Distance =        70.96
Time =                 6:23:20
Ave speed =       11.0
Max speed =      39.5
Monthly Dist =   70.96
Yearly Dist =      70.96

Day one of 2006, and ride one of 2006, and it was brutal. At least it was a Streak ride, extending the Streak to thirteen months in a row, riding to the top of the Sandia Crest. This doesn't tell the whole story of the Streak, so let me take a moment to fill you in.

The Streak originated in North Idaho, in the spring of 1997. It came about following an amazing ice storm, that devastated the Spokane WA, Coeur d'Alene ID, areas, in November of 1996. I actually attempted to go for a ride, on the night of ice storm, oblivious to what was going on. I headed over to Canfield, the local mountain, and it was tough going because conditions were slushy. As I approached the mountain, I had to drag my bike around, over, and through, numerous trees that were laying on the ground. I finally reached the beginning of climb, and I was hearing numerous gun shots. This didn't make any sense, because it was dark, and hunting is illegal after sundown. Of course, it was Idaho, and maybe one or two people hunting, is possible, but nothing like I was hearing. It was then that it dawned on me what was going on. What I was hearing wasn't gunshots, but rather, trees snapping. I turned around and got the heck out of there, as fast as I could.

The destruction that ice storm delivered to the forest was enormous. There were places that had hundreds of trees down per mile. It took months to clear the trails that were affected. I can remember one ride at the time, where it took me an hour, to go a half a mile, because of the difficulty of dragging myself and my bike, through the tangle of wood.

That ride and others, made me want to start a bike log, where I could write down all of the interesting things that I was coming across, as I pedaled my way through life. I began writing down my rides in January of 1997, and have every one catalogued. There have been many cool experiences, from close encounters with moose, cougar, and bear, to racing at Leadville, the TransRockies, and a couple of maniacal 24 hour races. Solo.

Getting back to the Streak, in April of 1997, I rode to the top of Canfield, and then continued to do so every month, for 93 months in a row. Some of the months were not so much riding, as dragging my bike through the snow, but I persevered, and the Streak continued until I moved to Albuquerque, in January of 2005. It was sad when it ended, but I passed the Streak baton to my friend Willy, who is carrying it on, with pride. Willy has another Streak going that is amazing. He has gone for a bike ride with his brother, for more than 181 Sundays in a row. Way to go Willy and Jack!

As for myself, I have started a new Streak, that entails riding to the top of the Sandia Crest, at least once a month. It took me three tries last January to make it to the top for my first time, due to leg cramps on the first try, and flat tires on the second. The top is 10,678 feet, and it is a different world up there. My neighbor Don rode with me in November and December, and his altimeter watch said that total climbing for the ride is 6800 feet. Every time that I suffer through another climb, I ask myself, "Why do I do this?". "Normal people don't do this." And yet, a month goes by, and I do it again. It's a sickness. Don says that it's because we're addicted to endorphins. He's probably right.


Okay! Now that we have some background out of the way, let me tell you about my first ride of the year. From the house, conditions looked poor. It was blue skies and beautiful to the west, but cloudy and foggy to the east, on top of the mountain, where I was headed. I wore my raincoat, and took along my rain pants, and rain socks, just in case.

I headed out at a conservative pace, because I knew that I was going to need all of the energy I had, in order to pull this ride off. The ride down Tramway to Old 66 went smoothly, and I was pleasantly surprised to have a tailwind pushing me through Tijeras Canyon, and up Highway 14. Everything changed when I made the turn onto 536, and began the big climb toward the top. A powerful wind blasted me head on, and would torture me off and on, for the next 14 miles. I pulled over and put on my headband, and extra warm gloves, and began the crawl upwards. Temperatures fell from the 30s, into the 20s, as I gained elevation, and my feet began to slowly freeze. With about five miles to go to get to the top, I pulled over at the Capulin Snow Play Area, and took a break, in order to warm up my feet. If I couldn't get blood to circulate into my toes, I was going to have to turn back. I ate a power bar, and danced around for about fifteen minutes, and I was good to go.

I continued to the top, thinking that I could go inside the snack bar and gift shop, and warm up, but they were closed for New Years! It was 20 degrees, and I was sweaty and cold, and faced with a 14 mile, freezing cold descent, and a certain trip into hypothermia land. I don't remember much about the ride down, except at one point a rock fall occurred right next to me, and scared me into swerving into the road. There was a car behind me, but luckily, it was a safe distance away. I made it to the bottom, and stumbled in to the Shell gas station, to try and warm up. I was shivering, my fingers and hands weren't working very well, and my speech was slurred. A guy came over and took pity on my distress, and invited me to his house for some hot tea. Ken, you're a life saver! I stayed there for more than an hour, and then headed for home.

I was cruising down Highway 14, when a lady pulled up alongside of me, and made a right turn, right in to me! I started pounding on her car, and yelling at her. She stopped, and said "I didn't want to stop because of the cars behind me", and "I don't know what to do when I see bicycles". I told her that what you don't do, is run them over. She was crying and apologetic, and I felt sorry for her! I wasn't hurt, so Happy New Year, and I'm on my way. I headed back through Tijeras Canyon, and the wind returned, to make my life miserable. Small climbs that I would normally fly up in my middle chain ring, were a slow crawl in my granny gear. By the time I hit Tramway it was just about dark, so I used the trail, instead of the road, to make the climb back up to the house. What a way to start the year.


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