Alaska Adventure Machine!

Alaska Adventure Machine!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016


It was another rainy morning. The forecast was for nearly 2" of rain along the eastern side of the Sandia Mountains, roughly 80 miles away. It had rained all night here in Espanola, NM. Clad once again in wool socks, neoprene booties and full rain gear,  I turned on my flashing rear tail light and joined the 6:30 AM commuter traffic bound for Santa Fe, NM. After a few hectic miles of pedaling alongside the highway traffic, I found a peaceful frontage road to ride on. I climbed steadily out of the Espanola valley. I passed Camel Rock, which I remembered from my youth. I wondered if this frontage road had once been the main highway, now bypassed by the multi-lane highway nearby. Taking a couple photos here felt nostalgic.

Highway 89 was shade-covered by tall cottonwood trees. "A pretty spot" I thought as I cycled through Tesuque Pueblo.  After a few miles I dropped into Santa Fe. I was still in rush hour morning traffic there. I was making good time, though wary of the dark rain-laden clouds. I stopped at a gas station and bought a sandwich, as I still hadn't had any breakfast due to my early start.
After battling through the construction zones on Cerrillos Road, I sped South out of Santa Fe. I began to lose elevation rapidly. That was not good, as I'd face lots of steep hills to regain elevation on the backside of Sandia Peak. I passed some fanciful wind vane bicycle art outside of Santa Fe.
Up and down I went, passing through the mining district of old Madrid. I was enjoying the distinctive southwestern landscape in spite of all the climbing involved.
All alone in my world, suddenly another cyclist appeared. Wow, another touring soul! I pulled over and we had a chat. His name was Greg, a college student from Tempe, AZ. He was headed to Colorado Springs to work as a camp counselor for the summer. He was camping out along the way, although often grabbing a couch for the night he'd located through a cycling site His ride was to be 750 miles long and he had 75 days to do it. Not exactly a rocket pace, but he was also killing time until the job started. He was quite the cycling novice and had no idea about clip-in pedals or even toe clips for his feet. His bike was a heavy steel steed. But he had spunk and youth on his side. I was sure he'd make a great youth counselor, already creating a good role model for the youth he'd soon meet. Fancy bike equipment was not needed, his 'can do' attitude surely would propel him the rest of the way!
I was making good time as I reached the eastern side of Sandia Peak. Albuquerque was just 15 miles away. It was chilly out, scud clouds hanging low. I treated myself to a coffee and pastry at a Cedar Crest bakery. I phoned home to have my wife forewarn my in-laws of my impending arrival. With a warm belly I raced down Tijeras Canyon, a fortuitous tailwind whisking me into Albuquerque, the "Duke City". Still wearing winter cycling tights, neoprene booties and rain jacket, I knocked on my in-law's door. In seven hours I had quickly ridden 90 miles and over 5,000' of steep hill climbing. My fifth day, and my last ride of the 458 miles, had been done in good form. An amazing route through central Colorado and northern New Mexico had been ridden. I was back in my old stomping grounds. It was time to visit family and friends and even dress up for a wedding! The tour had exceeded my expectations. A "Credit Card" type of speed touring using motels and cafes versus the full camping and remote Alaskan ride of last September. It was fun to go light and fast for a change. "What would be next ride" was already in the back of my mind!

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