As I stand on the roof of my home looking west towards the windward side of the Sandia Mountains, I am again brain thumped by their beauty. Why the roof of my house? Because who would want to gaze upon so much overwhelming simplicity from the ground?

Today, THAT BIKE and I climbed Sandia Crest Road. Today, the Sandia Mountains handed me my legs, butt, and ego on a silver platter with a sardonic snort and no hint of an apology. Today changed me. I’m not quite sure how yet, but it did.

Summit of Sandia Crest road: achieved!

Summit of Sandia Crest road: achieved!

In the 12 years I’ve lived in this house giving a casual shrug to the scenery that has been quietly placed in my lap, I have driven to the top of Crest Road twice. Twice. Once just to do it and once when my marriage fell apart. Neither time I stayed long but the drive alone was somehow therapeutic. Some people come to Albuquerque to take in the spectacle of a mass ascension of balloons and then drift aimlessly to the top of the mountains to soak in such stunning beauty. For the longest time, I didn’t think twice about it. For the longest time I didn’t appreciate how fortunate I was to have those mountains at my back door. For the longest time I didn’t realize how much I had sleep walked through life.

It’s funny what you notice when zooming up a steep road at 5.2 mph. You’re going slow enough that a 6th grader on a single speed could pass you. You’re going slow enough that you notice every road cut, damaged guard rail, beer bottle, critter dropping, and tire skid mark. You climb, you stop, you rest, you beg your legs to give more than what they have in them to get you where you want to go. You realize that the standing drills during high intensity training have actually strengthened you because you can progress past a switchback without stopping. But just beyond that switchback, you stop because THAT BIKE has started to wobble; the engine is exhausted. The engine is also getting hungry. The breakfast that filled your belly earlier has been consumed by the legs you are pushing on so hard.

Bicycle Neophyte at home in Albuquerque.

Bicycle Neophyte at home in Sandia Park, NM.

Even before reaching the summit two miles ahead, you fast forward to the descent and you start to get worried about losing control. You remember what happened the time you hit the wall. This time, you don’t have an amazing group of guys to watch out for you and guide you safely back to the starting point. This time, you’re on your own. You get honked at by a passing car to remind you to stay on the white line no matter how mentally and physically taxed you’ve become. You pull over to rest and then look back to see if there is traffic before starting again. You keep thinking big circles; your mind and body remind you that Rule #5 is in effect.

Hey there Rocky Mountains, it’s been a while. Time for us to get reacquainted, don’t ya think…