Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Fig Newton ride...AKA The Santa Fe Century

I only eat Fig Newtons once during the year, and it is on this ride. Usually I can do with out but they have them for the food stops and they are appealing. At least for the first couple of stops.

I met up with my friend Richard again this year to ride the Santa Fe century. If you remember from last year our hero had to quit at mile 76 or so with tire failure so I owed the ride, such as it is, a complete ride, the full monty, the total enchilada,.....well, you get the idea.

Joining the fun this year was childhood friend Mike Monroney. We met again through the amazement of Facebook and he has always wanted to ride a century ride so here was the chance. Holy Crap, 40 years since we had last seen each other. We were pretty good buddies back then goofing around in the neighborhood and then we went on a bike tour together when we were in Junior High up to Estes Park and RMNP. That is a whole other story and blog. Crazy!! We picked right up as if it had been 40 days instead of years. What a blast.

Off we go on the ride.

This was Richard after two blocks, waiting at our meet-up spot for Mike.
This was also the last time I saw Richard all day until back at the motel. He rode a very strong race!! Richard, you are such an inspiration for all of us just trying to get some miles in and fun on a bike. Note to Self, check....see if you are still riding centuries 14 years from now.

We started pretty early to try and beat the wind that always comes up for this ride as the day gets into the afternoon..
A nice cloud cover to start the day which keeps it cool and no sun baking my brain.
 It always takes me a few miles to find my rhythm and pace so Richard and Mike were both out in front while I was just enjoying the early morning ride. They set up six total food stops but they push you out a bit for the first in Madrid, about 25 miles in. I enjoyed the before mentioned Fig Newtons and some fruit and PB&J's. Sun burned off the cloud cover and the day was ON!!

Up and up out of Madrid on the climb up Stagecoach pass. For me, this is the toughest part of this ride. It is relentless and there is a false top. I am ready for it now but that first year, you top out, there is some flat, then you go around a corner and, boom, another steep pitch. Just about crushed me that first year. Right after popping over the top is the best riding of the whole trip. A nice downhill and then a cruise up on the ridge as you head for the food stop below Heartbreak Hill. The scenery is just pretty up here and easy pedaling!!

Much of the talk about this ride involves Heartbreak Hill. With good reason!! It is one steep-assed climb! So much so that it is a no-brainer for me. I pedal until it becomes crazy and hop off and hike-a-bike. I actually like the hike-a-bike. A break off the saddle, use of a different set of muscles, a chance to stretch and stride out. It is only about half a mile and when I get to the top I'm not all wiped out. Jump back on and go! Mike rode all the way up. He told me he employed a mixed strategy of standing on the pedals, regular sitting and a bit of switch backing. Takes some pretty good leg strength to pedal up.

Another year and I did not break my heart on Heartbreak Hill!!
After a nice downhill we come out of the mountains and roll on into the high desert of NM. I am always amazed by this part of the ride, out there past the Stanley food stop. You can see forever to the horizon and there is very little in the way of civilization! Now, I have ridden my bike for awhile but, c'mon, I know there is a big town out here somewhere that I rode away from. There is such a variety of terrain and scenery on this ride that makes it so enjoyable for me.

These cactus plants were in bloom. They always look like little mini Christmas trees, except a little more prickly!!
Mike was waiting for me at the Stanley food stop so we got to ride together for a bit heading into Galisteo. By then the food at the food stops had lost their appeal to me. I made myself eat at the Cedar Grove stop but just could not face any more food at the rest of the stops. Don't get me wrong, the food stops are fantastic on this ride. Fresh cut up fruit, sandwiches, snacks, water and gatorade. The support for the riders is the best on any ride that I have been on. I know I have to keep eating and drinking but just can't make myself. I got a bit dehydrated by the end of this ride. I was drinking up a water bottle every hour and know that was not enough and the gatorade, even diluted, just gags me.

Mike is still pretty enthusiastic after 70 plus miles!!
A big tip of the chapeau to the Search and Rescue people for the popsicle stop before Lamy Hill. That bit of sugar got me going on up the hill. I just rolled right on by the Eldorado food stop, by then I just wanted to be finished. They had us down the Old Las Vegas highway back to town and I sure liked it instead of the trip up the interstate. As always, those last 15 miles are not much fun with sore hands, butt, and legs but after the voices in my head telling me "no way, will I never have to do this again", You step away after a few days and realize how much fun it was and how much satisfaction that it is to ride 103 miles at an event like this.

All in all a great weekend of cycling, friends new and old, good food and beer, good summer weather.

Thanks for reading, everybody have a good rest of the week!!


  1. Thanks for the write-up and pics!

  2. Great write-up about such a pretty ride. I also told myself after the first one that I did it .... I don't need to do another! This was my third. Sure had a great time, the roads were nice, people were great, and the weather even cooperated like it was special ordered. I always have a great time in Santa Fe, and the Century ride is the reason I'm there. I share your sentiments on Heartbreak Hill .... I hike it also. There is still 65 miles of ride left, why destroy your legs that early in the ride, AND it gives my butt a little break. I also liked the old Las Vegas Highway much better than the interstate. Enjoyed the ride, and the time spent with you, Mike and Cathy.

  3. Enjoyed reading about the ride. Congrats on your finish.

    1. Thanks for coming by and reading Randy. I'll put my road bike away here now for a bit and start riding Ogre to get ready for my Katy ride. Three weeks and I'll be on the Prairie Spirit Trail! Looking forward to it!!

  4. Congrats Jim and Chapeau on finishing the ride. I had a similar experience of not finishing a ride one year and going back and finishing the next year sure felt good. Sounds like you rode smart and had fun which is the important thing on a century ride. You are now in position to ride strong the rest of the summer with all those miles in your legs.


  5. Jim,

    Good write up. It sounds like a great ride. Looks like great scenery and good friends.

    Never managed a century. Pretty sure I could do it, if I had all day - but my free time usually comes in small pieces. Might be fun to try some day - but on Ohio flat trails, not the mountains you ride!

    Steve Z