Well, I answered.
Answered by packing up the car with 4 of my friends, Drum's parents and 6 bicycles to head to New Mexico for 3 days of riding and climbing. It was going to be great.
We drove for 11 hours. And when I say we, I mean Ninja drove the whole way there. Violator and I were spoiled - our only job was to keep him company!
Our view for what seemed like a jillion miles. A jllion pretty scenic miles!
We arrived in Espanola, NM on Sunday evening and hunkered down to get some rest before our first day of riding. Bright and early we were up, spraying on sunscreen in the parking lot and getting ready for the challenge ahead. Our planned mileage was just over 60, but with the altitude and the climbing, we knew it would take much longer than 60 miles at home!
Day One, looking rested and excited. Notice I'm the only one dressed for Arctic conditions. I'm still rockin' the UV sleeves trying to protect my skin!
(L-R) Mark, Drum, Violator, Mitchell, Ninja, TPG
The first really big climb was a bit scary. No shoulder and very windy roads. Cars could not see us until they were right up on us. But everyone was very courteous. Mad props to NM drivers! Oh, mah guah climbing in the heat and altitude was a rude awakening! But this was a pretty short, steep climb, only 2 miles. Getting to the top was a relief and an accomplishment. Of course, we had NO idea what was in store for the next two days, ha!
We made it! Look at all that pink! Those are some fierce cycling girls, fo sho.
We rode to Los Alamos and back. We were rewarded from all the climbing with some great downhills on the return trip. Also, with breathtaking scenery. I stopped to take pics. A lot.
Like, a lot, a lot.Eventually we made it back to Espanola, showered and refueled with pizza and beer. And naps! There was also a lot of this going on.
Yes, we were texting each other pics of our compression. Dorks. Note to self, CWX compression pants - now on the need list.
Day Two, we packed up the cars, checked out of our hotel and got ready to ride the 60 miles from Espanola to Taos. Drum's parents crewed for us, driving both vehicles, providing food, water, mechanical assistance and in general, being entirely incredible. I cannot thank them enough for their support! We could have done it without them, but it would have been so much more difficult and stressful. They are amazing and so encouraging! Plus, Drum's dad, Mark, has been cycling his whole life. I learned so much from him this week!
Ready to ride to Taos, looking just a little tired.
(L-R) Ninja, Violator, Mitchell, TPG, Drum. Still rockin' the sleeves. I'm committed to sun protection!
So much climbing. Lot of really long, gradual climbs at the start of Day 2. This is near Chimayo.
El Santuarino de Chimayo, church of many miracles.
First stop on Day Two. Still plenty of energy and smiles! We were all just so glad to have this opportunity and soaking in the entire experience.
The long climb on the road to Truchas. The scenery was changing quickly from brown and arid, to cool and verdant. I just kept thanking God, out loud, for the blessing of this trip and the opportunity to see all of this by bike. To smell the clean mountain air, to watch the mountains go by (ever so slowly, ha) and for the strength to make those climbs. It was a blessing to struggle up that 10% grade. So many people will never be healthy enough to make that kind of effort and I'm so thankful that I can.
We stopped at an artist co-op in Truchas to refuel. I managed to buy a print of an oil painting and got to meet the artist. She pointed to where her house is, and let me know the print was her view from her porch. What a lovely memory!
Gorgeous graffiti in Truchas.
Ninja and Violator stretching after that long, brutal climb.
With Violator getting ready to climb Army Hill.
Don't let that flat look fool you. Plenty of false flats. But the downhill were so worth it! My top speed was just over 40 mph and that was so much fun! Carson National Forest.
I got so hungry on Day Two. The whole ride I was fantasizing about rice. Yes, rice. These days I typically fuel with muffins made of white rice and that is all I could think about! So, for dinner we found a Chinese food place and I finally had my fill of rice. AND found a sweet kitty to cuddle! Yes, I'm wearing compression socks with my skirt. Don't hate; my legs were tard.
Day Three we prepared to ride from Taos up the mountain. No humidity and a crisp 51 degrees at the start. We picked a great week to escape the 108 high of North Texas! Spoiled, that's what we are, spoiled. I knew today would be the hardest day in terms of climbing and elevation, but I was determined to enjoy every minute of it.
Ninja, Drum, Mitchell, Violator, TPG. My wonky knee has been bothering me so I've been babying it with K tape and lots of ice.
Day Three brought many more miles (just over 60 again) through Carson National Forest as we made our way up the mountain. Every time I stopped to take it all in, I was greeted with the barking of prairie dogs. Those sneaky little guys refused to have their picture made though!
Riding downhill, winding like crazy, on the way to Angel Fire was a sickening experience in the best way possible. I really tested my bike handling skills - fortunately no spills. I would make that climb over and over, just to experience that crazy downhill - so fun! Let's be clear, I'm not a strong climber but I have NO FEAR when it comes to going fast! I certainly put those big fat gears to good use. I pedaled my heart out the entire way down, hoping to go even faster!
The longest climb of the day, was around 14 miles from Eagle's Nest up to Bobcat Pass. You can take a shorter climb from Red River, but no, we took the long way. It's slow and relentless, the last 3 miles or so becoming very steep and seemingly never ending. I might have had some rude things to say as I struggled my way up that mountain. I might have stopped pedaling to coast on what turned out to be a false flat and fell right over. I might have scratched my new bike and banged up my wrist and it might still be sore. But it was so worth it! Mark, having made this climb before (it took me about an hour and a half!) grabbed my bike as soon as I made it to the top. He said he's seen cyclists fall over as soon as they stop! I was just so glad to be done. Even more elated when Marcia offered me a fresh tortilla, cheese and a coke! I actually said, "I love you." And I meant it! Dang, I worked up an appetite on this trip!
A little worse for the wear, but I made it. I'll never forget this climb! We just don't have mountains where I'm from.
Hugging Violator as she reached Bobcat Pass.
At the top of Bobcat Pass we met a group of cyclists from Kansas, touring like we were. Marcia made their picture under the sign. One of the most memorable moments was watching their last cyclist come up the mountain. 60 years old, he had suffered a stroke and had only 10% use of his right side. Yet he powered up that mountain just like anyone else. So inspiring! It's really a testament to the power of human will. I'll carry that with me forever, the sight of him working so hard to get up that mountain. Incredible.
Every day brought new challenges and new milestones. I'm definitely a much more confident, stronger cyclist than when I first crossed the NM border on Sunday. I'm so thankful to Drum's parents for planning the routes, being such a great crew and encouraging us all along the way. This was an opportunity of a lifetime and looking back, I still kind of can't believe it happened. Riding back to back to back, through some of the most beautiful terrain -well, I won't soon forget that beauty.
A few years ago, I couldn't imagine myself on a bike, much less taking a trip like this - solely to ride as much as I can! I'm so glad that reality is so much better than my imagination! You know, life can be like climbing a mountain by bicycle. Sometimes it is hard, really hard. And you just put your head down, wanting to stop. But if you'll take a look around, you'll see the beauty that surrounds you. You'll see the important people in your life who care about you and want you to succeed. And if you listen carefully, they are there, at the top of the mountain, cheering you on. So just keep pedaling. You'll find out that you're tougher than you ever knew, as long as you just keep going.
And once you find out how strong you really are, well, you'll realize you're damn near indestructible.
And that, is a priceless feeling.
Do you like to take "active" vacations? Where would you go to cycle or run if you could?