I wish I could take credit for the title of this post, but I’m just repeating the words of another of the six Malpais 300k riders last Saturday. I’m infrequently that original, and would in any case, add “wet” to cold and windy, since that has as often as not, been my experience.
It was a perfect day in New Mexico; sunny and dry, with few clouds in the sky and a high of 63 degrees. A perfect day that is, if you watched from your window and never stepped outside. The NOAA three day, hourly history for Saturday between 6am-8pm, reports that winds in the area averaged 20-29mph, with gusts from 26-40mph. Mercifully, if anything can be merciful about fighting the wind for 12 hours, it was blowing from one direction. (In fact, I’m starting to wonder if I live in one of the few places in the world where the wind commonly blasts your right side, only to blast your left the next second.)
As usual, with the exception of the uncontrollable weather, it’s difficult to fault an NM Brevet. It is probably getting boring to read how fabulous the ride coordinators and volunteers are, but they are. Exceptional!! As is the Malpais Route! About 193 miles of the 195 miles were on rural roads. There were many stretches where fewer than one vehicle per mile passed. I would rank it among the most beautiful rides I’ve done. If one is fond of the desert southwest it’s worth a trip to do this ride.
Regardless of the wind, I wasn’t having a superb day on the bike, but I managed to make my way to the finish before dark. I was certainly glad for the short ride to my hotel room (there are several hotels within 1/4 mile of the start/finish), a warm shower and bed.
Not 400k, but 200k on a tandem. On Saturday, Jen and I finished our longest tandem ride, and Jen’s longest ride on any bike, the 200k, Manzano Mountain Air, in about 10.5 hours. Our return trip was slowed by stomach issues that kept us off the bike for 1.5-2 hours, but we finished well within the 13.5 hour time limit.
The Manzano 200k is a beautiful route that starts on the Northeast corner of Albuquerque, goes up over the mountains and drops down into Mountainair, NM. It’s mostly out and back, but on the way back, turns east after the highest elevation, and takes the riders through Sedillo, NM, adding about 10 miles to the return from Mountainair.
The weather was OK for Spring in the mountains. Chilly temps; most riders didn’t remove their jackets all day. A fair amount of wind. A few snow flurries during the highest few miles in the afternoon. When I first read the ride description I thought the note of where to buy hand warmers along the route was odd, but after wishing we’d packed a couple for Jen, whose hands were freezing up front, I thought I should pay more attention to such “odd” notes in the future.
As I wrote in my December, Radium Springs report, the NM Brevet ride coordinators and volunteers are awesome. Many thanks to Lizz, John and Fred for another fun ride in New Mexico!
“Oh! This is how you DNF when you least expect it.” That’s what I thought when I saw the sealant spewing through the 2″ slice in my tire that had been nearly cut in half by a utility knife blade that had been dropped in the street . For a millisecond before that I actually wondered if the sealant would fill the gash.
I’d been worried by the weather forecast and worked hard to stay with some fast riders early in the day. That’s how found myself just having completed my fastest 100 miles in 20 years, facing 90 more miles and a hopeless looking tire. I figured I’d have to find a way to get back to the start (and my car), and making my bike rideable for at least a short distance seemed the best way to expedite that process. I booted the tire with a Park boot given to me by a passing local cyclist and the cue sheets I no longer needed. I considered adding my brevet card to the patch, but refrained. About the time I was re-installing the wheel, with widening 2mm slit, another brevet rider showed up who’d carried what none of the rest of us had; a tire. I swapped the booted tire out for the loaner. I couldn’t help feeling grateful for the return of tire karma for the old tires I’d given away when I was wrenching at Stonewall Century six months ago.
After a few easy miles to refocus, some motivation from a passing pack, and nice climb up Gates Pass, I was on my way again and was able to ride with another strong group of cyclists to finish before dark in just over 12 hours.
Saguaro National Park, Friday, February 26. Near Saturday’s 300K Route.
Ok, so it started out a little chilly…24deg F, but by the time we reached Hatch, NM, 24 miles into the Radium Springs 200k, my fingers had thawed. The 136 mile route is beautiful and at least 90 miles of it has very little traffic. It first travels west and north, with a very gradual climb. After an easy warm-up of about 50 miles, we headed into some hills; steep-ish, short-to-medium climbs….nothing too extreme. After Nutt was a fast 20 miles, east, back into Hatch. The last 20 miles, riding south into the wind were a bit of a grind, but more mentally, than physically difficult.
The New Mexico Brevet Series organizers and volunteers are awesome! The level of support was as good or better than any organized century I’ve ridden. At $25 per rider entry fee, I don’t see how they even cover their costs. Not only was there drop bag and sag wagon support, they provided sandwiches, fruit, brownies and soft drinks and home-cooked dinner afterwards.
Even though I’d ridden Tejas 500 eight weeks ago, I felt only minimally prepared for this ride. Seeing Radium Springs on my calendar three weeks out, I’d added a weekly long ride on the rollers of 3, 4 and finally 6 hours to get ready.
If you ride Radium Springs it’s probably a good idea to have a light that’s bright enough to comfortably ride with and a bright taillight, and a good amount of reflective material on your bike and clothing. Daylight is pretty short on December 6th, and the traffic between Hatch and Radium Springs really picked up late afternoon and evening. All the drivers gave me lots of room, but I’m sure they aren’t used to watching for cyclists that time of day/year.
Coming from the north, we stayed at Truth or Consequences, about an hour from the start rather than driving farther south to Las Cruces. That saved a little driving on Friday and Sunday. I hope to do more NM Brevets in the coming year!