Friday, February 11, 2005

Black Range

I was scouting airfare between Houston and Albuquerque on behalf of my husband, who is planning a little trip out that way next month. Seeing that Albuquerque costs more than twice as much as El Paso, I asked if he wanted to buy the cheaper ticket instead and drive the 240 miles to the family property near Belen.

He said no way, as I rather expected. But I teased him about it anyway, pointing out that my parents had crossed the Black Range on a winter night in December with two little kids in the car, so who was he to be a wuss about it?

After ribbing him a bit, I got curious about the Black Range. The only memory I have of it is that December night in 1976. My parents, little brother and I were on our way from San Antonio to my grandparents' house to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. We must've fallen behind schedule because I'm sure it wasn't my father's intention for us to find ourselves alone in those mountains after dark.

And by "alone" I mean completely alone. And by "dark" I mean pitch blackness.

Those mountain roads wound about for mile after endless mile, with no lights except for the occasional dying town or passing semi. Snow clouds moving in had obscured the moon and stars, and the tall mountains with their dark soil and mysterious wilderness closed in on our two-lane highway as it threaded its way north. The distant glow of villages was a rare and welcome sight that faded into the rear-view mirror all too quickly. It seemed we were the only car on the road, so that the occasional semi was a welcome sight after too much of the oppressive blackness, even though at times it seemed they would run our enormous blue station wagon off the little two-lane blacktop. Light, no matter what the source, was welcome.

The longer we remained in those mountains, the closer I crept from my snug little nest in the back of the station wagon to where my parents sat up front with my sleeping brother. In the glow of the dashlight, we talked in hushed tones about God and the land, darkness and light.

When we finally came down out of those mountain passes into the flatter land and lights of Socorro County, it felt like we had finally come up for air after a long time under water. I don't know if I dozed or not, but crossing the Manzanos just a couple dozen miles away from my grandparent's farm didn't seem nearly as treacherous. The Manzanos were familiar old friends that seemed to always gaze fondly upon our family homestead; near enough to touch yet distant enough that reaching them was a long day's walk.

The Black Range though, had a taint of evil about it.

So imagine my surprise to go online and run across this place.

I told my husband we absolutely must check it out. Wildlife, ghost towns... what's not to like? Heck, the place is probably haunted. I'm ready to see the Black Range again, so long as we don't try to cross it at night. I have a feeling not much has changed in nearly thirty years. The Black Range, even in pictures, looks like it still has the power to conjure darkness.

Obligatory Endurance Sport Content

I'm starting to get a bit frustrated with the "spring" cycling season. With 70% chance of rain and 15 mph winds predicted for Sunday, it doesn't look good for the West U Warmup ride. And to be honest, I'm a little reluctant to hit the roads with my legs feeling like they do. It's entirely possible that the new legwork I've added to my morning workouts is causing this temporary setback, but it still spooks me a bit that I can't pound out high rpms for very long.

I tried one of my Cyclerobx tapes this week. I did the one with Tyler Hamilton, of course. It was okay. I was disappointed that even though it was supposedly 45 minutes, there was only about 35 minutes of actual hard spinning, and that doesn't include the two minute breaks between sets. Two minutes is really too long in most cases. This will make a great spin workout for days when I'm pressed for time or my legs are feeling really dead, but I think I'll stick with some of my later Spinervals for the hard workouts.

Recent Workouts
Monday: 45 minutes core and strength training, 30 minutes elliptical, avg 200 strides per minute
Tuesday: 45 minutes core and strength training, 45 minutes spin- Cyclerobx
Wednesday: 45 minutes core and strength training, 30 minute run, hard intervals
Thursday: 45 minutes core and strength training, 30 minutes elliptical - avg 195 strides per minute

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