Sandia Crest

looking east from atop the Sandia Mtns at about 10,160 feet above sea level.  We'll go a little bit higher

looking east from atop the Sandia Mtns at about 10,160 feet above sea level. We’ll go a little bit higher

The Sandia Mountains rise abruptly on the eastern edge of town.  When you look up at the them it is hard to imagine you can ride your bike up there on a paved road that goes all the way to the top.  We live at about 5,300′ in Albuquerque and the Crest tops out at 10,600+ feet.  That’s a mile of climbing!  Here’s a map of the ride.  Here’s a song to go with the pictures and narrative.

The climb in earnest begins at the "Triangle" where the Crest Road begins from Hwy 14

The climb begins in earnest at the “Triangle” where the Crest Road begins from Hwy 14

 

The elevation at the bottom of the Crest road is 6,900'.

The elevation at the bottom of the Crest road is 6,900′.

Santa Claus delivered early presents for me this year including a repaving of the first six miles of this road this summer

Santa Claus delivered early presents for me this year including a repaving of the first six miles of this road this summer

This Crest road begins on the opposite side of the mountain from Albuquerque.  So to get here ride through Tijeras Canyon and either turn north on HWY 14, aka the Turquoise Trail, or there are some quieter routes weaving through the laid back tapestry of the east mountain communities.

The road is very quiet

The road is mostly silent today

after a few turnoffs for residential side roads the climb enters National Forest

there are a few residential side roads in the first mile then the climb enters National Forest

 

the line of the road begins fairly straight but soon becomes squiggly with hairpin turns and switchbacks, but nothing extreme

the line of the road begins straight but soon becomes squiggly with hairpin turns and switchbacks, but nothing extreme

I love feeling the resistance through the pedals as I climb a mountain road on a bicycle.  The world slows down but your body rhythms accelerate, your breathing, cooling systems, energy consumption.  The slow motion intensity brings a steady concentration.

2014.10.27 Sandia Crest climb 047

2014.10.27 Sandia Crest climb 052

2014.10.27 Sandia Crest climb 060

There’s a flat stretch after mile six where you can get some relief as you ride past the Sandia Ski Area.  That’s at 8,600′.  So you can kind of think of it as a two part climb.  Anything to help approach this gigantic beast!

this road is a work of art

this road is a work of art

2014.10.27 Sandia Crest climb 095

2014.10.27 Sandia Crest climb 101

There are trailheads for walks with great vistas.  Many bear, turkey, deer and animals all around in this forested highlands.  There used to be bighorn sheep, the Rocky Mountain kind.  Now I think the closest sheep live in the Manzanos to the south.

looking north you can see the Jemez Mtns., & the Sangre de Cristo Mtns. above Santa Fe

looking north you can see the Jemez Mtns., & the Sangre de Cristo Mtns. above Santa Fe

more climbing

more climbing

2014.10.27 Sandia Crest climb 112

It’s a new world up here.  You break out through the edges of the forest with great vistas to the desert and distance mesas and ranges.  The color of earth and sky and scent of the trees is amazing.  Invigorating.  Cleansing.  I feel incredibly alive when I’m climbing!

2014.10.27 Sandia Crest climb 115

there's an overlook at the top where you can survey the 360 degree panorama

there’s an overlook at the top where you can survey the 360 degree panorama

 

Albuquerque sits right next to the mountains.  Where we set our limits truly determines how we grow

Albuquerque sits right next to the mountains.  The transition areas and connectivity between are special.

When you get to the top you have done something today!  I keep meeting great people there and having fruitful exchanges.  Yesterday a gentlemen told me about the Seattle to Portland two day ride.  I’ve got to do it.  I told him about Albuquerque’s own Day of the Tread ride.  He’s going to do it.  The Crest road reminds me of Going to the Sun road in Glacier National Park.  Everyone is happy to be there because it is so obviously awesome.  We are all overcome in a way by this shared experience of being in such a marvelous place at this moment in time.  This road is special to me because it is right next to home and is a classic Southwestern US sky island type ecosystem with bands of colorful rock showing and that famous New Mexico blue sky glowing a deep penetrating blue.  The workout is fantastic.  Riding above 10,000′ is not easy.

looking south at the Manzano Mountains

looking south at the Manzano Mountains

2014.10.27 Sandia Crest climb 131

Peace

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