Thursday, January 31, 2008

Out of Colorado's Icy Clutches

Wednesday I woke up early and started getting my poop in a group so that I could leave Salida before lunchtime. I loaded up my truck--probably half of everything I own went in there. A friend was very kind to loan me a popup camper, and I was carefully packing stuff into the nooks and crannies. It was clearly going to be a pretty heavy load.

At 8:30 I went to my yoga class. It let out at 10. They day was looking good for travel. The report was for something to roll in later in the day, but I figured I'd be safely down in New Mexico before that happened.

I finally rolled at a little before 11. On my very last trip out of my apartment, I stepped onto the zamboni ice in front of my place; the same ice I had been walking over carrying stuff all morning. This time I slipped and went ass over tea-kettle. Bam, I landed on my right elbow and tweaked that shoulder. Fuggin' winter!

Poncha Pass was snowy, and the road from the Pass to Villa Grove, CO was snowpacked and slick. I took my time. After I got down a little lower the roads became just a little moist with ice on the edges. I could see down into the San Luis Valley and there were some suspicious-looking dark grey clouds down there. Hmmm.

I got to Alamosa and filled up with gas as a gnarly cold wind chilled me to the bone. Yeah, go ahead and blow you stinkin' winter wind! I'm going to Arizona!

The crosswind was ripping as I made my way south. A half hour south of Alamosa I crossed the New Mexico border, and found that the road maintenance had been remarkably different down there. As I passed to the east of San Antonio Mountain, gateway to the rural elk-crossing country of northern NM, a ground blizzard screamed across the slick highway.

As I got closer to Espanola, NM, the snow abated, but a gusty wind continued. As I headed up the climb to Santa Fe there was the snow again; big fat flakes driven by the persistent hard wind. Once I hit I-25 the snow stopped, but the wind doubled! On Tuesday I'd drilled my truck's quarter panels for cleats to hold the tie-downs for the camper. The wind driving into the passenger side rocked the whole rig, and I kept watching the turnbuckle in my rear view. Could something like this straighten the hook out? Could it be enough force to flip a half ton of camper with another 250 pounds worth of cargo in it off the bed?

Dang. Winter really doesn't want to see me get out of here!

All the way down I-25 the wind was on and off. At times it would slack and I would think, ìgreat, I've finally driven out of it.î Then it would come up again, rocking the truck to the left.

I cut over from Hatch to Deming at about 9 PM. I'd been thinking about maybe parking the camper and crashing in the Wal-Mart parking lot in Deming. But I figured that would be not very restful with the wind howling like that. So I downed a Red Bull, put another gob of gas in the tank (I was burning it way too fast), and pointed it right into the shank of the wind roaring out of the west. A stretch of I-10 that should have taken three hours took nearly four, and cost me over a half tank of gas, but finally I pulled into Tucson after midnight and headed up to Willow Springs to try for a few hours of sleep and then set up for some cram training.

16 days to the Old Pueblo race--can I establish a usable endurance base in that amount of time?

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