06/25/06

Location =  Tijeras to Sandia Peak  
Distance =  64.34
Time =  7:14:03
Ave. Speed =  8.9
Max. Speed =  38.0
Monthly Dist. =    208.01
Yearly Dist. =  1593.54

I felt the need for an epic ride, and at more than 7 hours on the bike, this one would qualify as epic. I had heard some people talk about the "King of the Mountain" trail, that climbs from the base of the Sandia Peak Ski Area, up to the top, so I made that my goal.

I took out the mountain bike, and headed down the mountain, and through Cedar Crest, to my break spot near the "Y", where I ate a power bar. I rode up to the ski area, and ate another power bar, and then began the climb up the singletrack. It was a beautiful trail, zig-zagging up the face of the mountain, through the trees, and crossing grassy meadows, that are the ski runs in the winter. There was a deer in one of the meadows, near the top. I finally topped out at the High Finance Restaurant, at the Tram, where I took another break, and ate another power bar. I filled up my camelback at the drinking fountain, inside the visitor's center, and then headed back down the mountain.

I took the Golden Eagle trail on the way down, and it was easier than the King of the Mountain, and 2 miles shorter, at 6 and 1/2, compared to 8 and 1/2. The next time I do this ride, I'll probably climb up Golden Eagle, and descend down King of the Mountain. I made it to the highway, but before I was down to Doc Long, it started to rain, and hail. A piece of hail hit me in the leg so hard, it felt like I was shot. I was going 35 mph at the time. I turned in to Doc Long, and stayed under a covered space for about 15 minutes, until it stopped raining. I wisely had brought arm and leg warmers, so I put on the arm wamers, and started down the road. I didn't go very far, before I stopped again, and put on my leg warmers. The road was wet, and the spray was making me very cold.

I cruised toward home, and had a reprieve from the rain, but the skies looked dark and ominous, to the south, in the direction that I was headed. I began the climb up 337, and for the first 4 miles, everything was fine. As I passed Otero Canyon, there was lots of evidence of a recent hail storm. Pea sized hail was covering the dirt, up to a half an inch deep. I was glad that I wasn't up there any sooner. As I climbed toward Juan Tomas, it began to rain on me, with little bits of hail thrown in, just to make it interesting. In a few minutes, I was in the middle of a full blown thunderstorm, complete with booming thunder, blinding lightning, gale force winds, and ice water rain. I was so miserable that I was hoping that I would be hit by lightning, so as to end my suffering. I wanted to find shelter, but there's nothing but trees, and stopping would have made me colder than if I just kept going. At least I was climbing, and generating heat. I was going slow enough, that the hail didn't hurt .... much.

I finally made it back to the house, and up on the back deck. My fingers were so cold, that I couldn't get my house key out of my backpack. I was almost ready to give up, and seek help at a neighbor's house, when the troublesome key appeared, I grabbed it, and managed to get the lock open.

My reward was one of the most well deserved hot showers, that I have had in a long time.....



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