Sunday, April 4, 2010


We had plans to hit Gallup's High Desert Trail today, which promptly got called off on account of the winds forcasted- trust me, you don't wanna be out there when the wind's howling across the mesas at 40mph. Think Lawrence of Arabia. But substitute Gallup NM for the Arabian Peninsula, keeping the blasting sand, wind, and you get the picture.

So I started kicking around a Plan B mtb trip thru the foothills, maybe some geocaching too- that'd be fun, huh kids? Weeeell, Plan B planning didn't get too far along before my team members started to wilt under the temptation of candy, sun, general neighborhood mayhem offered by the glorious spring day.

Reluctantly, I realized my planned family ride was just not in the cards this day, sigh. Knowing better than to fight it, and make a mess of everyone's day in the process, I figured there was room for all us to get a little something we wanted today yet.

For me that proved to be what's become an annual rite of spring, the Tour de Foothills: stringing together a giant figure-8 by riding both ABQ foothills North and South in one monumental spin.

So noon found me setting off from the Copper TH, ipod tunes banging away, a whistle on my lips, a spring in my pedaling as I reveled in the sunshiny day all around me. Mile 6 found me questioning my resolve, as my bandy legs just couldn't get into the groove, warning me we'd remain friends if I was wise enuf to cap the ride at, say, our usual 11 miles. Any further, the relationship would most certainly suffer, don't say we didn't warn you.

So I pulled up at mile 9 to give them some juice, let my conscious mind try to work them over, show em who's boss. The Mike and Ike ploy seemed to distract the peanut gallery for the time being, I cruised thru the neighborhood connecting South to North easily enuf.

Mile 11 had me pulling up at Embudo TH, to start the next leg. Thankfully, all body parts now seemed equally resigned to the journey, grumbling let's get this over with, it's our fastest way back to the truck. Right where I wanted em.

A quick refueling, I'm pounding up the trail, stopping only briefly to capture a desert bloom or two. Before I know it, I'm ascending infamous Blow Chunks Hill with one thing in mind: a delicious splash in the creek at my journey's exact midpoint, 12.5 miles in. Ahhh, I can almost feel the cold snowmelt dunking I had planned in celebration.

Grunting along in granny gears, squinting thru dripping sweat while attempting to catch first sight of the Wilderness boundary sign, pushing on, repeat every 1/8 mi or so. Seemed to take forever, the young dude blowing by me halfway up only added insult to injury. Oh he must've just started back at Elena's picnic area. Gotta be it, right? Sensing my mind's weakened state, my legs take to taunting me in unison- nya nya told you so, we told you so. Hey, STHU already, I'm tryin to bike here!

Finally, I make the crest of Blow Chunks, wobbling past a family of hikers, their jaws agape. Jeez, you'd think they never saw a guy on a bike in the throws of heat stroke before. wheeze...Mom, is that you?...wheeze.

Just down from the crest: salvation! Simply the loveliest little watercourse, freezing cold, having just found its way down from the Sandias. Never mind the other mtb'r relaxing streamside, I stumble a bit downstream, shedding bike, gloves, helmet, sunglasses like a dying man, to plunge face first into the first pool that falls within my wavering vision. Dam, but that's good!
You could not pry me from that spot for a good thirty minutes. Kicking back, slowly drying in the springtime sun, a creek of all things gurgling in this most improbable of places, slowly refueling on starburst gummies pilfered from the kids' stash: the very definition of heaven indeed. Wait, they have gummies in heaven right? That'd be a dealbreaker you know, just sayin.

Checking my watch, I realize I better get a move on, before I take root right here by the creek. I'm impressed my legs seemed to have recovered with the refueling, and I kick it up a notch to make the best of the next mile of tread: a snaky downhill run we've coined....Snake. Clever, no?

The pain of the seemingly endless climbs now behind me, I'm faced with the better part of 5 miles of speed runs interrupted only briefly by minor climbs to set up the next. I'm not long into the second run, carving turns at speed, leaning into the banks like never before, expertly ducking overhanging junipers, and actually bangin off some of the more moderate drops, when it hits me.

What the dudes in Bike like to call The Ride, it's all about The Ride.

Yup, nuf said!

Epilogue: what they don't tell you I find at Mile 21, where I drain the last of my water, despite milking it for the past 4 miles. I have to refuel again leaving Menaul TH, mid hill, within sight of Indian School, choking down my last Mike and Ikes, throat all dry and raspy, croak. Oh and that hill overlooking Indian School TH is off my Christmas card list, lemmetellya. As is that one-time wimp the next ridge over, how'd he get so big overnite anyway? Finally, I'm able to blast that last run back to the truck, sink into the sanctuary of the a/c on full, today's ride is done.

Refueling. Word of the day, no doubt. Sitting here, wry grin still on my face as I write this,  it seems today's refueling is just what I needed.

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