02/03/07

Location =  To Sandia Crest and Back  
Distance =  48.26
Time =  5:23:31
Ave. Speed =  8.9
Max. Speed =  33.0
Monthly Dist. =    48.26
Yearly Dist. =  170.04

I woke up this morning to beautiful blue skies, cold temperatures in the teens, and gale force winds. I should have listened to my instincts, and called off this ride, but NO, I've got to try to get to the crest, because it's February. I am such an idiot.

I headed out at 8:00am on the mountain bike, because I knew that conditions would be poor. I put hand warmers in my gloves, and they helped to keep my fingers from freezing. The winds were swirling all around, and torturing me from all directions, as I rode toward the highway. From there, I had to fight my way downhill, because the winds were rushing up the mountain, right in my face. As I made my way down, the thought crossed my mind that if the winds were this strong at the bottom, that I would call the whole thing off right there, turn around, and head for home.

The winds were calm at the bottom, so I continued onward, through Cedar Crest. I stayed on the sidewalk, alongside the highway, until it became impassable with snow, right around the Ribs Place. From there, I was forced to ride in the street, which I usually try to avoid, when I'm on the mountain bike. I made it to the turn-off, and began the climb up toward the crest.

Very soon, the situation began to deteriorate. The shoulder was mostly filled with snow, and was generally impassable. This forced me to be on the edge of the road, where I don't like to be. There was a fair amount of traffic with people going to the ski area, and I like to keep as much distance between myself and them, as possible. Even worse, many of the curves were snow covered, and this forced me to use the path worn by the cars, and made the cars go around me. This isn't a very big deal for them, because there was very little downhill traffic, but it forces them to slow down, and go in to the other lane, to safely pass. One truck didn't bother to move over, and passed within inches of me. I don't know if the driver didn't see me, or didn't care, but it scared the heck out of me.

I continued to climb up the mountain, and the sun began to work it's magic on the snow, turning it into slush, and covering the road in water. Sometimes, cars would splash me as they went by, and my bike was quickly becoming trashed. As I neared the ski area, around 8000 feet, my biggest fear was realized, when the winds returned. I began looking for excuses to call it quits, when a big gust of wind, blew me 90 degrees sidesways, across the road. I looked to my left, and a Toyota pickup was about 20 feet away from me, and was swerving to the left, the same direction that I was headed. All I could do was accelerate on the pedals, and get out of the way. I stopped on the other side of the road, put my head down on my handlebars, and had a moment of silence, for the life that just flashed before my eyes. That was close.

This ride was over, so now I had to make it back to the house. I headed down the mountain, and was quickly soaked by the wet roadway. I had a rear fender on my bike, but I still haven't gotten around to putting on the front one. I went inside the gas station at the bottom, to warm up, and recover a bit. I headed back toward Tijeras, and I realized that my left foot was unbelievably cold. Apparently, on the descent from the ski area, I must have spent most of the time in a left pedal down, right pedal up, scenario. This caused my left foot to spend more time near the ground, and it was completely soaked with ice water. The shoe, the sock, and my skin, were drenched, causing a total loss of feeling in my foot. It became so unbearable that I stopped behind the middle school in Tijeras, and attempted to warm it up, before making the climb back up to the house. I took off my sock, and put an arm warmer on my foot, underneath the sock, but it didn't help very much. It became soaked, also.

The climb up S337 was torture, as I tried to ignore the agony of my foot. When I finally got home, I warmed my foot in front of an electric heater for 45 minutes, and then took a 30 minute hot shower. There's no permanent damage, and now I feel great. Ready to try again next week.



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