Map of route.
A bit of altitude and temp change (low 80's) for a midwestern flat lander who just a few days ago was in 35 degree temps and snow. Heading up the pavement to Cloudcroft:
There was a fair amount of traffic including logging trucks, semi trucks and many jazzed up pickups some of which didn't give me a ton of room. As the tunnel had no shoulder or real space to walk off to the side, I didn't want to have any company in it. Got through not having to share it.
Photo courtesy of CherylH
The train trestle stop was a nice surprise.
The altitude didn't seem to affect me much on the way up...until I got to the top and was still pounding uphill on the singletrack after a short break. The Coke and peanut M&M's maybe weren't quite enough energy replacement after the 3 hr. 4300 foot climb so it probably wasn't the altitude at all...but still, at 8k feet coming from 1500 only a couple of days earlier it may have had some effect as I had a slight dizziness when had to climb some on the very moderate singletrack trail.
Cloudcroft I went straight to the LBS for directions to the singletrack trail, the High Altitude Race Course.
The gal behind the counter was great. We talked a bit and when I told her I stoked the mtn. bike up on the pavement she kinda was like "well the roadies do that but a better option for mtn. bikes is we head over to the next canyon to the north and use the dirt roads to La Luz"...she gave me instructions and I was off to down a Coke at the local watering hole along with some peanut M&M's and then took off down the singletrack.
The first section was lots of loose rocks and not well defined. After a few miles I hit a forest road that was a nice bench ride and then I came to the turn off that dove down a canyon.
It popped me out at the turn to continue on back to Cloudcroft or head back up and over the next canyon and towards Alamogordo.
It started with a bit of a climb, but like the gal at the LBS said, if you just pulled 19 miles from the valley, it won't be anything to get over the hump.
From there is was about 20 miles of downhill on singletrack, nice forest roads, light pavement and into La Luz and then to Alamogordo before really seeing more than just a few vehicles.
The wind that gave me a few slaps on the back earlier in the day on the uphill had picked up measurably to 30-40 mph (gusts even more?) headwinds, which was nice. I still got tons of speed going downhill and it allowed for only light rim brake pressure applied to stay in solid control. Still, in the top chainring and gears there was no way I could spin fast enough to add to my speed.
Retainer wall for water control, I guess. A long way up the mountain, though.