If not for the snow and rain we encountered, this would be my favorite day! I want to come back here some day and cycle from Albuquerque to Santa Fe on these very same roads: Rte 66 east, then Rte 14 North all the way to Santa Fe. We passed through some of the greatest scenery on the trip yet. But I want to do it in better weather!
We could see the mountains ahead of us as we left Santa Fe. We climbed somewhere around 5,500 feet today, and it began right out of the box. But the climbs were gradual enough (or I have gotten strong enough) that they were not punishing at all!
By the time we got onto route 14 and headed north (17 miles into the ride) it had started to rain some, and then snow. The wind was quartering behind us after we turned north, so that wasn't too bad. But we were freezing out there (again). At mile 22 there was a gas station/store/restaurant so a large number of us pulled in there to get warm and hope the storm would pass. After about a half hour the pelting rain lessened, but did not quit, and we decided to proceed. It was still wet and chilly, but we were up among the mountain peaks that we had seen in the distance in the morning, and it was spectacular!
We had a sag stop at mile 33, and I took off my socks and tried to dry them... it didn't work and I could not bear to put the cold wet things back on my feet, so I didn't... I pinned them to my camelbak and let them fly (it actually had stopped raining at that point for a short while). Silly me, bringing only biking SANDALS on a summertime ride! But the bare toes felt better than the wet socks.
We climbed to our present elevation of 7,000 feet today. I guess it was a good thing it was raining because the denser wet air is easier to breathe, and I did not have as much trouble breathing as I usually do at higher altitudes! After the high point in the mountains we had a really nice descent--about 7 miles, not terrifying like Mingus Mountain was. I was able to coast down at about 35 to 40 MPH with minimal brake engagement.
When we were almost to the lowest point of the day (geographically that is), we came upon a little mining town called Madrid, and a bar/restaurant called The Mine Shaft Tavern, where a bunch of us came in out of the rain for lunch. The place was really hopping, and the food was good. There were a lot of galleries and other neat shops in Madrid, but we knew more rain was on the way (we could see it coming) so did not shop. Peggy and her husband Lee (visiting her this week) were at the lunch stop, and noticed my bare toes... he took off his smart wool socks and gave them to me--still warm. It was wonderful! And even though they were cold and wet and muddy when I rolled into the hotel, they made a huge difference in my level of comfort. (Thanks Lee!)
It rained harder as I approached Santa Fe, riding by myself since the lunch stop. Even though it was raining where I was, I could see beautiful snow capped mountains to the west, with blue sky and sun shining on the snow! Ahead of me was Santa Fe, and to the east were more mountains, less regal than the ones to the west, but lovely just the same. And in my rear view mirror were the mountains we had just come through--the same ones we saw ahead of us in the morning. It was very cool!
It was a great day! I came in under my own power, with van loads of bikers and bikes passing me along the route, some of whom had not sagged before today. I made the right decision coming in out of the cold yesterday, as much as it hurt to do it. I know I was on the edge of hypothermia; I recognized the signs and knew I could not continue without warmer dry clothes.
Tomorrow is a rest day! I plan to do a little shopping here and send home some things I don't really need. Life is good!