Category Archives: training

Sandia Zen in Early Morning

“Great Road.  Elevation’s a killer…almost there…almost there…almost…”  –pjammcycling.com

i-live-here.jpg

The Sandia Crest road carries the melody through the heart of the Wilderness enveloped by this forested mountain range tilting upwards towards the sky.  With this ride within reach from my home in Albuquerque staying home is almost always better.  I love riding from home.

I started a ride before 5am last Wednesday with all my lights (two front, two rear) to get over to the eastern side of the Sandia Mountains for the long climb up the Crest.  So worth it.  I took the preferred approach through Gutierrez Canyon.  The landscape is changing rapidly from repeating monsoon showers and August’s dazzling sun.  Every day is looking better.

illumination

early in the morning

character

Pedaling a bicycling in the early morning restores that youthful feeling.  The measured breathing.  The rhythmic cadence of circling pedals.  Any extemporaneous thought is quickly grounded and dissolved in the moment.  I’ve climbed the Crest 41 times this year.  Sometimes I go really slowly or stop to look and listen.  It is surprising how much more you hear and see when you have the mind and time for watchfulness and ample oxygen to process thoughts.

chaos disorder

morning light

happy

Going up a climb has a way of quieting the mind and dissipating tension.  Sometimes at the top there is a feeling of peace and resolution.  The suffering is not so bad as long as you are eating, drinking and prepare sufficiently.  It is purifying.  The Crest is a beautiful climb for many reasons, one of them being the road takes you all the way to the top.  Might as well take a breather and go up to the observation platform.  Persistent effort pays off.  Look at this beautiful day.

twist two

sunflower on film

On one ride with an ecologist friend I listened to all his skills and words to recognize and describe the life on the mountain.  The bird songs he knew.  The landscape is teaming with plants and animals.  Understanding little we watch to learn more.  We don’t even know how many bears live here.  A bicycle ride is a window to a fuller sense of this place perched atop the eastern shield of the grand circle of the American Southwest.  This poem comes to mind:

Stay Home by Wendell Berry

I will wait here in the fields
to see how well the rain
brings on the grass.
In the labor of the fields
longer than a man’s life
I am at home.  Don’t come with me.
You stay home too.

I will be standing in the woods
where the old trees
move only with the wind
and then with gravity.
In the stillness of the trees
I am at home.  Don’t come with me.
You stay home too.

roots down

reach

I feel at home on the mountain.  I share this property with over 300,000,000 Americans and many foreign guests and I realize it is not property at all but my growing knowledge of it, and respect for it, is all that matters as I cycle onward.  Through movement I am still.

Resources:
The Crest is ranked the 65th toughest climb in the U.S. by pjammcycling.com http://www.pjammcycling.com/65.–sandia-crest-hwy–nm.html

Wendell Berry’s poem appears in Literature and the Environment by Anderson, Slovic, O’Grady

Adoption Exchange: Day Two at the Races

Three races in two days.  That’ll make your legs tired.  These images and more are available at Sansai Studio.  Mai from Sansai has road race and time trial photos available now and says the criterium photos are forthcoming, pending on getting her regular job and the taxes done.

The Men's Cat 1, 2, 3 criterium winner unleashed a wickedly fast sprint

The Men’s Cat 1, 2, 3 criterium winner unleashed a wickedly fast sprint

 

The criterium venue at Balloon Fiesta Park provided close up views for spectators

The criterium venue at Balloon Fiesta Park provided close up views for spectators

We are athletes.  Being active helps us learn.  I viewed this weekend’s event as a training race to get into the swing of things again.  It built up my motivation and gave me a sense of how strong the racing is in the Southwest US.  The event showcased fit and healthy athletes and brings bicycling to the broader public.  People race to reach for pinnacle experiences, to execute teamwork (road cycling is a team based sport), to build community, and to have fun enjoying the bounty of all the hard work that goes into practicing bicycling.

2015.4.13 Adoption Exchange Crit 2

Since we live in Albuquerque it was a special treat to race from home.  There was a little driving involved to each venue, and I got a little bummed out spending Sunday morning on the freeway heading over to the West Side, and Sunday afternoon on the freeway again heading over to the north side.  When you’re driving on the freeway major landmarks like the Rio Grande are a quick blip on a high speed journey, or you may not even notice the river at all.  But when I climbed out of the car and onto my bicycle I felt grounded again knowing exactly where I was.  The driving was not too bad considering races such as Valley of the Sun in Phoenix, which requires 50 or 60 miles of serpentine freeways between stages.  I’m spoiled because in my regular life I don’t have to drive a car.  I can use my bicycle and transit for everything, as Albuquerque is a city especially scalable by bicycle, and my favorite place to drive my bike in.

Matt from Caruso Cycle Works is training for the Masters National Championships Time Trial

Matt from Caruso Cycle Works is training for the Masters National Championships Time Trial

Thanks to Sports Systems Mountain Top Cycling on Montgomery and Louisiana for a wonderful weekend of racing.  Please remember to support the beneficiary of this race, the Adoption Exchange, by helping them find waiting children safe, loving, and permanent homes.  I’ll see you next time at the races, or perhaps we’ll meet before then somewhere out on the road or trails.

A Road Ride in the Dirt: Foothills Trails

An English professor who bicycles once told me he did his recovery rides on the mountain bike.  That’s been ringing in my head ever since.  Mountain biking bounces you around a little bit and it is not as easy to get a smooth spin with your legs as it is on the road, so the road ride is the normal recovery choice.  But the thing about going off road is you soak in the sweetness of the vegetation and the tone of the soils.  Relatively motor free.  Clean air.  Softness.  It is relaxing for your mind and can open up your spirit.  I’ve been finding myself gravitating towards the open spaces above the foothills on some of my easy days.  Riding to city’s edge and then going further up on the hard packed granite based trails with 25mm tires turns out to be a fun choice.

one big reason to ride dirt is it brings me up closer to the mountains

one of the draws of riding dirt is it brings me up closer to the mountains

this trail was the gateway for riding my road bike on singletrack. It connects between the Montgomery neighborhood and High Desert where there are no paved roads, allowing for north south transit without going down to Tramway Road

this trail was the gateway for riding my road bike on singletrack. It connects between the Glenwood Hills and High Desert neighborhoods between which there are no paved roads above Tramway.  Tramway is good but can be busy.

Lately I just keep going on the 365 trail and the road bike becomes my dancing partner

Lately I just keep going on the 365 trail and the road bike becomes my dancing partner

The foothills trails involve some climbing too, and occasionally I get lost, or drawn into going further than intended, so it is not perfect recovery.  My dirt road recovery rides can leave me tired and needing more rest.  But very satisfied.  And I must say satisfaction is the bottom line for long term success in bicycling for me.  I may be a little bit tired but I’m going to ride.  Plus, during back to back races or in longer stage races, I know what to expect.  I don’t feel like anytime I spend riding is wasted.

2015.3.7 Foothills Spring 013

2015.3.7 Foothills Spring 026

the Tramway that connects Sandia Heights to the Crest. I am afraid of heights, even though I used to be a roofer. You do what you've got to do.

the Tram that connects Sandia Heights to the Crest

I was reading about 59 year old legend Ned Overend and the science and art of riding strong into your middle age.  There’s some great points in Ned’s article regarding quality workouts and the importance of rest.  I try to assimilate and apply the best advice that stands out to me.   He mentions he’s selected the “right ratio for [him]” and I think that is key for all of us.  Learn about how we operate as individuals and do the research so we know there are choices, and have the courage to experiment and try something new.  Ned reminds me of a bicycling Ralph Waldo Emerson.  Know the world but to thine own self be true.  Mostly I stick to what works, which is just enjoying time on the bike and cherishing pulling the world in through my experiences on the bike.  Today I saw wild turkeys.  Often times I meet people.  I get some thinking and reflecting done.  Study places.  And most of all when I return from a ride I feel like I have lived today.

the base Tramway station flying the flags below. The 365 trail ends there and I took the road back.

the base Tram station flying the flags below. The 365 trail ends there and I took the road back.

2015.3.7 Foothills Spring 049

I take it easy over technical spots. If I can’t visualize my way through a tight spot I decelerate and  walk, taking my time

You see a lot while out riding and it is an engaging way to observe the world.  I feel good when there is an element of adventure in the ride meaning I improvised and wasn’t sure where it would take me.  You realize something about the extent of your own powers through facing uncertainty.  No matter how humble our output, when applied with diligence you can take yourself a long way, especially if you’re not afraid of getting a little tired and dirty.  Ned’s gonna beat you no matter what, and he’s been riding so long he knows all the trails.  So I figure I better find my own way around and enjoy today.  And spend more time exploring by bike always remembering that my job is to build the receptivity and courage to listen and learn.

2015.3.7 Foothills Spring 078

 

2015.3.7 Foothills Spring 057

there’s a good aura of light and energy that emanates from the mountains that brightens the day

 

Quantum Spring on the Northern Training Circuit

soundtrack: Antonella’s Birthday
During the winter time the ride north to Algodones with a turn east up to Placitas is a fun one and very popular.  Sometimes bicyclists finish it off with a trip up Tramway and La Luz.  On Sunday after two days off the bike watching the snow fall and then melt I headed on this northern training circuit and saw a lot of friendly cyclists out.  Here’s a map of my ride.

2015.3.1 Training Circuit North 072Placitas is famous for its views, art life, open air and wildlife.  There’s a labyrinth of residential roads to explore but the main road, Hwy 165, is the most popular for bicycling because of its continuous flow, steady climb, smooth pavement and during the summer time, access to the forest road that connects to the Sandia Crest road.  Every place I ride I wonder what it would be like to live there and experience full days and seasons.  Placitas is an attractive area.

2015.3.1 Training Circuit North 099If you lived way out in rural Placitas you could end up spending a lot of time in a car.  Or you could live in Placitas and commute by bike to the Rail Runner station in Bernalillo and park your bike in a bike locker at the station, or take it with you on the train to help you get to your final destination.  Or just ride your bike all the way.  I am happy living in ABQ close to everything I need.  It’s efficient and quite a pretty high desert city with huge vistas stretching from the Sandias to beyond the open western mesa and up and down the river valley which threads us together.  Plus in the ABQ metro area you can ride in any direction and get out into the countryside.  I enjoy the geographic contrasts and transitions.  Propinquity to people and culture in the denser city is important to me.  The nearness to the countryside, cultural breadth, and sense of being enfolded by diverse landscape are treasures.  The more I bicycle here the more it feels like a world heritage place, balanced, unique, distguished.

2015.3.1 Training Circuit North 126

New greens were showing as the snow ebbed on the northern ridgelines and at the edges of the fields.  March is transition season.  I spotted cranes in these fields into February but a new season is upon us.  This scene reminds me of riding the Shinkansen in Japan to Tokyo and seeing the leaves of green tea fields unfolding in front of the snow covered giant Mt. Fuji.  New Mexico and Japan both have startling combinations of white green blue tri tone color bands in their enchanting landscapes.   The Amtrak and Rail Runner trains whipped by me while I was riding Hwy 313.  Western history is intertwined with the people and market connections that followed the first transcontinental rail line in 1869.  It is mind boggling to think how the relative importance of trains has changed through time though they are still more important than we often think, hauling much of our oil from the production zones to the refineries and for distribution, as they do for many goods.  Perhaps we’ll see a passenger rail investment that brings us back to the forefront in the development and innovation with this technology.

Here's one from my January 2011 Japan trip.  In New Mexico the browns, yellows, and reds come from the earth

Here’s one from my January 2011 Japan trip. In New Mexico the browns, yellows, and reds come from the earth

2015.3.1 Training Circuit North 118

The clouds that had been around for the last few days peeled off of the Sandias to reveal a stunning scene.  The snow was melting quickly on the ground and the pavement was wet.  Water pooled and was running by gravity washing the streets clean.  The sun beams touching the snow made it liquid again and when it wasn’t tumbling down the arroyos or soaking deeper into the soils it evaporated back into the sky ocean.

2015.3.1 Training Circuit North 147

2015.3.1 Training Circuit North 154

These horses were galloping across the field before they stopped to chomp grass.  I think they feel the Spring renewal coming as they absorb strength from the land.  And their spirit seems responsive to the lifting of the weather, just like all the cyclists back out today galloping around.  I saw a couple riders sprinting for a road sign up on Tramway towards the end of my ride.  We all sense the fabric of Spring time curving round.

2015.3.1 Training Circuit North 162

2015.3.1 Training Circuit North 224

First Environment

He who loves his body more than dominion over the empire can be given custody of the empire.  –Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

Eric Whitacre’s Lux Aurumque is a good soundtrack for this post.

My body is my first environment.  Sometimes I feel guilty for bicycling as if taking care of my body is unimportant.  But then I remember my father saying and his father saying if you have your health you have everything.  And I find the courage to trust my intuition and this wisdom.  And I feel better again about bicycling.  Doubts are hard to overcome, and we get too busy.

Creation stories relay with the centrifugal force of myth how humankind was generated from the earth, soil, dust, parts somehow molded like clay into human form.  Science traces our composition to elements of the cosmos.   People are inseparable from environment.  This is why place is so important to us.  The bond is mesmerizing but simply real.  When we are thirsty we drink a glass of water and replenish with calcium, magnesium, sodium, the minerals that make up the earth, carried in a water solution that washes through our bodies.

When I’m cycling I’m getting direct feedback on how my body is doing, and I can extend this out to get a look at how we are doing in shaping our places.  It gives me a local context, the sights, sounds, noise, smells, sensations, sense of place.  And I have a reference, knowledge and experience to understand issues on a larger scale.

earth first full view 1972 Apollo 17

earth first full view 1972 Apollo 17

Seeing things for the first time and getting good feedback changes the way we act.  It is part of learning and adapting.  We understand how we live in an interconnected closed systems with limits and realize the underlying fragility, and therefore preciousness.   And so it is with cycling.  I would be foolish to think I can go beyond the limits of my nature, though it is instructive to get a sense of where those limits are.  The focus of acting within our limits produces greatness.

When I get worried about the abstract earth, one of the best things I can do is to take good care of my body.  This is where it all starts.  Eating good foods, respecting my connection to place and society, and the interconnections of my mind, body and spiritual life.  I don’t know how it happens but if I listen intently, appreciate life, trust and reflect, my experience teaches me something.  I’m still learning.  Everyday I try to ride my bike intently.  Biking creates a good life.

February Ikebana 2015

Credits: Thank you Sansai Studio for the Ikebana Photo

Healing

Recovery is the most important part of training.  When the healing happens it makes us stronger.  Our job is to not get in the way of the wisdom our bodies have.  Just let the restoration happen.  Our ability to heal is as amazing as a baby being born.  It is life regenerating itself.  From broken to better.  Resiliency is rhythmic like waves.  Like a song.

2015.1.27 recovery 036

It helps to have a restorative place to rest.  I’m beyond lucky because my wife is an Ikebana artist.  Plus we have this nice couch we brought home on the roof rack of our Rav4.  I’ll tell you what, if you ever let a cyclist inside your house the first place they’ll gravitate towards is the couch.  Unless they are super traditional in which case they’ll plop down on the floor.

2015.1.27 recovery 025

It helps to surround yourself with a refreshing atmosphere.  And be an easy walk to the kitchen.  I have let go of my TV habits of old.  In part because they were over stimulating.  Watching sports left me tired still.  Be careful with computers and electronics too.  My favorite thing to do now is read, write, draw or sketch.  Take a walk in someplace nice.  Nap.  Dream.  Talk with family and friends and neighbors.  Cultivate and nurture the mind, body and spirit.

2015.1.27 recovery 019

Sometimes we need assistance seeing how our training is going.  It can come from anyone.  Listen to what people tell you, the wisdom they share.  I received good advice from my mechanic yesterday.  Take it easy sometimes!  Today I’m going to practice the advice Allan S. gave me a couple months ago while he was finishing up his gratitude bike tour.  You can ride everyday but not so hard that you make yourself too tired.  This is called active recovery, or at least reasonably paced riding.  It was the best kind of advice because he didn’t actually offer it as advice.  He said he wasn’t having trouble recovering each day.  He wasn’t riding that hard.  Hmm, good idea.  Allan has what you call a genius for living.  It can take a thoughtful lifetime to cultivate that well.

2015.1.27 recovery 022

And when a storm comes, or a chance to visit with family or to take a trip with Mai, I’m ready to put the bicycle away for a couple days.  Enjoy all of life’s richness.  Keep cycling and any kind of regular exercise a balanced part of your daily living and every part of life is more enjoyable.

2015.1.27 recovery 0242015.1.29 flowers 0142015.1.29 flowers 034Arigato Mai.
Update 2/2/2015.  The blooming continues.
2015.2.2 flowers opening 005
2015.2.2 flowers opening 010

Sandia Foothills Finger Climbs

There’s a Place for Us Somewhere and for us climbers in wintertime it is on the Sandia Foothills Finger Climbs.  Banked up against the Sandia Mountains above Tramway Blvd on the eastern edge of Albuquerque are a series of roads that follow the skirt of the mountain higher and higher.  These roads east of Tramway end at the open space and wilderness areas encompassing the higher elevations.  Riding this sequence of finger climbs provides the perfect bicycling hill climbing workout and is a great way to build power and resiliency in the legs, heart and lungs.

I met up with regulars from the New Mexico Touring Society bicycling club for their excursion of the foothills climbs.  These folks know how to plan out a ride to garner the full rewards of bicycling.  They set a steady tempo, took time to enjoy the views at the top of climbs and partake in conversations. They showed me the way and warned me of all the tricky descents, and taught me history while we rode.  Thank you Eric and Dave for guiding me on this good ride!  We started at Forest Road 333 (La Luz), then did the next climb over to the La Cueva picnic area, then the climb to the Tram base, working our way through the scenic Sandia Heights neighborhoods on sinuous back roads southward.  Halfway through the workout you entertain thoughts of what’s for dinner and whether you are going to fall asleep on the couch or in bed afterwards, but there is just enough time to recover between climbs and regain your mojo to tackle the next one.  There is a sense of honor that this workout should be done properly, and you know the climbs are not super long so you can muster up the gusto to take on the next one.

For my style of riding this workout is a game changer.  Over the years I’ve developed a pretty good ability to hold a hard steady pace up long climbs.  Mostly this is due to my proclivity for entertaining myself by going out on the bike and riding long mountain roads.  In Reno where I began bicycling my favorites were Mt. Rose highway to Lake Tahoe, Geiger Grade to Virginia City, and Mt. Peavine , the beautiful easternmost extent of the Sierra Nevada marking Reno’s northwestern shoulder.   In Flagstaff I rode Mt. Elden, Snowbowl Rd., and other climbs like Waterline Rd. on the backside of the majestic San Francisco Peaks.   Long climbs are great for building a big aerobic engine, but they don’t truly develop the ability to attack or lift the pace repeatedly, or achieve absolute power.  The shorter climbs are better for training this resiliency and ability to change tempo because they allow you to recover in between efforts and then attack the next hill with sometime close to peak power.  On the long climbs you tend to just grind it out.

In Reno and Flagstaff if I wanted to do shorter climbs I’d have to do repeats of lesser roads.  Repeats can be a bit of a mental bummer which is one reason I’ve never done them regularly.  With the Foothills Finger Climbs you can get over 4,000′ of climbing without doing a single repeat.  It is entertaining, invigorating, and fun!  The air is very clean up at the mountain’s edge and the traffic is light.  You get a million different views of the mountains and the city below, the far away western mesa, the blue dome of sky and vistas beyond.  You don’t utilize any busy roads and can take the Tramway bike path for any segments that can’t be traversed utilizing calm neighborhood streets.  You slip through quiet areas regaining your legs and breathe as you string together the wonderful sequence of finger climbs.  This training route is an Albuquerque gem!  Time flies by when you’re riding up there, in part because the ride has so many culminating peaks.  The quick zooms down the descents are a bonus too, for their brevity ensures you won’t get extra cold, as can happen on big, long mountain descents.  What a wonderful ride that stands out above and beyond anything I’ve ever done.  I’m so glad I live here.  Winter climbing fun!

All Blue: Tramway to La Luz

All Blue  When we were first moving here Chris and Thomas took me on an after work ride down Diversion and up Tramway and La Luz.  What a great way to cap the day.  On the way home we took time to have frozen yogurt.  I realized that day what a special bicycling place this is.

Destination: western flank of Sandia Mountain

Destination: western flank of Sandia Mountain

oh I'm glad I went for a bike ride today

I’m glad I went for a bike ride today

We have this gem of a climb on route 556 that starts near the traffic circle by the river, passes by the Sandia Casino, then veers left on Forest Road 333 (La Luz) for the final approach up into a little nook in the Sandia Mountains.  It gains about 2,000 vertical feet, is accessible from town, with beautiful views.  It is a very special asset to the cycling community.

On the way to the base of the climb I passed this sign on Edith.

On the way to the base of the climb I passed this sign on Edith

The Sandia Pueblo farms the riverlands.  Looking northwest from Roy Rd.

The Sandia Pueblo farms the riverlands. Looking northwest from Roy Rd.

The fancy Sandia Casino Resort

The fancy Sandia Casino Resort

I think everyone visiting town flocks to this climb.  The Sandia Pueblo keeps abundant space open on the north side of Albuquerque so the road has expansive vistas.  It is inspiring to ride.

Yes there are buffalo in Nuevo Mexicano, even in Albuquerque!  The Sandia keep them at the base of the big mountain

Yes there are buffalo in Nuevo Mexicano, even in Albuquerque! The Sandia keep them at the base of the big mountain

Smooth riding

Smooth riding

Yeah, they did a good job on the shoulder.  Thank you!

They did a good job on the shoulder. Thank you!

It was 14 degrees this morning.  These winter days make for clear air and incredibly blue skies.  A long climb like this is a great way to warm up.

 

Mesmerizing.  As I was looking around I felt sad the camera would not capture the atmosphere

Mesmerizing. As I was looking around I felt sad the camera would not capture the atmosphere

you just ride right up into better

you just ride right up into better

Mai unpacked our rechargeable batteries, so now I have a steady supply of double A’s to run my camera.  I set a new record taking almost 300 photos today.  Got it down to 15 good ones for this blog post.  Taking photos helps me see with precision.

What did DH Lawrence say, just day itself was worth celebrating in New Mexico

Day itself seems to throw a celebration in New Mexico

On Forest Road 333 now, La Luz, traffic is light

On Forest Road 333 now, La Luz, traffic is light

a different kind of blue here

a different kind of blue here

This climb humbled me today.  I took a rest day yesterday and I was trying to gently rekindle the system.  I definitely knew how I felt once I got into the top half of the climb.  So I took it easy.

I had my jacket open to dissipate that heat.  Wore my special SESES wool jersey today.

I had my jacket open to dissipate that heat. Wore my special SESES wool jersey today & on Applied Ecology Lab pedals

Even when alone I'm still relying on all the help I receive from my friends and family.  Gracias

Even when alone I’m still relying on all the help I receive from my friends and family. Gracias.  Bicycling is wonderful

 

Gutierrez Canyon Recovery Walk

Mai and I took a walk on the far side of the mountains today at Albuquerque’s Open Space area in Gutierrez Canyon.  I looked at my bicycling journal and saw I had ridden nine days in a row.  Too many!  I try to take at least one day off the bike every week.  Taking a walk in a beautiful landscape seems to be one of the best ways to recover the body from bicycling.

We saw one other hiker on the trail with his good looking doggy

We saw one other hiker on the trail with his good looking doggy.  A few signs of horses and mountain bikes

It was cold today and breezy though the trees protected us as we were hiking

It was cold today and breezy.  The trees protected us as we were hiking.

Beautiful grasslands fill the valleys and junipers, piñons, even ponderosas and oak swarm the highlands.  Cactus all around.  Sunny!

Grasslands fill the valleys and junipers, piñons, even ponderosas & oak swarm the highlands. Cactus all around. Sunny!

I rode my bicycle out here yesterday.  This is my favorite two hour ride. I live right near the I-40 multi use trail in Albuquerque that leads to the gateway to the east mountains area, Tijeras Canyon.  The I-40 trail helps me get out of the city with ease, and once past the Tramway/Central and Central/Four Hills intersections, its open road.  Amazing to experience the contrast of landscapes as I pedal through Tijeras and on to higher elevations in the east mountains.  Oh the joy of the open road!

The back side of the Sandias are forested and inclined, very different from the city side

The back side of the Sandias are forested and inclined, very different from the city side

The chilly mountain air was refreshingly clean, astringent pine scent, thin and pure

The invigorating mountain air is refreshingly clean with an astringent pine scent, pure, light, delicious to breath!

The character and shapes of trees varies tremendously

The character and shapes of trees varies tremendously.  Form changes with light.  An infinity of unique moments.

The trail begins around 6,700′ and there was snow on the ground in places.  Over on this side of the mountains it is the mountains themselves that make me awestruck and humble.  Over on the Albuquerque side in the high desert it is the expansive sky that makes it so magnificent.

2014.11.24 Gutierrez Canyon 058

the trail hugged the hillside and took us up and over the ridge

 

2014.11.24 Gutierrez Canyon 061

many prominent rock outcroppings with vegetation tailored to the piled contours

 

2014.11.24 Gutierrez Canyon 193

South Mountain in the distance

Now when I ride my bike down on the road below I have a better feeling for the shape of the land.  Getting to the know the landscape requires time and attention, just like people do.  I do believe that this is one of the primary ways in which I can enrich my life, spending time outdoors that is.  It definitely softened the day and melted away a lot a tension, and we really enjoyed a hot dinner upon returning home!  Thanks Albuquerque for preserving this open space.

2014.11.24 Gutierrez Canyon 090

2014.11.24 Gutierrez Canyon 145

2014.11.24 Gutierrez Canyon 047

ABQ Community Group Ride

My bike clothes are my Traveling Clothes

I met up with the “show and go” ride that meets at the traffic circle at the base of Roy Rd. this morning at 9am.  It was fun!  One of the biggest loses for me when leaving Flagstaff AZ was the departure from the awesome group ride that meets every Saturday there.  The social energy and fitness you gain from good group rides is unmatched.  But today I took a big step on my new adventure of becoming a bicyclist based in Albuquerque and I feel better about it.  This ride is wonderful too just in a different way, which makes it exciting.

We had an impressive group of 25-30 people to start, a pretty good size for a chilly desert morning in November.  Many people come down from the 7,000′ elevation in Santa Fe and Los Alamos to enjoy temperatures about 10 degrees warmer at our 5,000′ elevation along the Rio Grande.  Riding two abreast and heading north on 313  we were all trying to stay warm going into the chilly north headwind. I had a chance to meet the Martinez brothers native to New Mexico, and learned some perspective on this beautiful State.  Many of the other riders out today I’ve met at races before and it was good to reunite with them.  I also met coach Ryan Bolton, a former Olympian and student of Joe Friel.  Ryan coaches athletes–particularly runners, including East Africans, and triathletes–in Santa Fe and one of his very strong triathlete clients named Ben was on the ride today.  And just like the community group ride in Flagstaff I met a lot of dedicated family and professional people who also happen to be talented and dedicated endurance athletes (on winter rides the dedicated ones show!) who are very knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the local riding opportunities and cycling community here.  There is a warmth and friendliness here that you have to feel to believe.

After swinging through Algodones on the old Camino Real we veered back south on the east side frontage road, which has stupendous views all around.  I’d never been this way before.  Then we took a left and started climbing up to Placitas.  This is when the Mt. Evan’s hill climb champion made his presence known by accelerating up the steepest grades.  Fortunato is well known in New Mexico and regionally as one of the best climbers anywhere.  He exploded the ride apart on the way to Placitas until the turn around point where the road becomes dirt at about 6,400′.  Pure climbing talent and an abundance of energy make Fortunato one of the best people to train with.  We are lucky to have him here to show us where the mark is and to make us all strive in search of our best.  In Flagstaff we didn’t really have a climb in the ride but Placitas is definitely a climber’s paradise, although it is not steep enough to where a lone climber could dance and stay away if a couple of strong riders worked together to strategically reel the climber in over the spots where the grade eases.  It is a gem of a training route.  Even has a downhill sprint, which may entice some fast guys to come out.

On the Flagstaff group ride sometimes the traffic was intolerant of bicyclists.  We experienced some tight passing and honking horns here today.  Groups take up much more space on the road than individual bicyclists do so motorist irritation is more pronounced on group rides.  I didn’t see any motorist that waited behind us for more than a few seconds while waiting for a safe zone to pass.  If anyone were having trouble getting by I’d gladly pull over when it was safe to do so to help facilitate a pass.  The irritation is irrational but not trivial on our safety.  All of the roads we used today were too narrow for bicycles and motorized traffic to share side by side (awesome graphic here on lane widths and space bicyclists require).  Passing traffic should utilize the other lane completely when passing to give clearance, to avoid a squeeze pass which also endangers traffic traveling in the opposite direction, and to provide a buffer in case something happens in the group of bicyclists.  This summer a national level rider I was training with slipped out his pedal and fell out into the road.  Since there were no cars following too close or trying to pass us with marginal clearance, he survived.  Many people try to squeeze past because they think the general travel lane is their lane.  This is not an understanding that is part of the shared road paradigm.  I am working on an educational campaign for drivers and bicyclists to try to improve the road environment.  From the bicycling perspective I think we could have slowed down more through the art festival in Placitas.  There were some pedestrians crossing the street and it seemed we could have modulated our speed better to display more courtesy.  I don’t think we can show too much respect for our common humanity and do too much to safeguard one another’s dignity and health out in our shared public space on the road.   Overall it was a great ride.  Thank you New Mexicans!  Albuquerque rocks!  I’m so glad to be here and look forward to more.