A storm brought friends and and unforgettable holiday.

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The news of our friends Nicholas Carmen and Lael Wilcox coming to town was very exciting news. Especially since the following week was Thanksgiving, and for the first time in what seems like forever I had the entire weekend off. An unsettling storm in Arizona had brought our favorite gypsy’s to our neck of the desert, for what was supposed to be just a few short days…Image

We were apparently having too much fun riding in the first snow of the season,Image

and eating New Mexican food, that those short days turned into almost a week.

With thanksgiving rapidly approaching and days off at the bike shop, unexpected, but welcome. The four of us devise a plan that would meet all our needs, camping for Thanksgiving, and getting our gypsy friends closer towards Arizona.Image

We headed for Grants, NM. To ride south towards Pie Town along the Continental Divide trail, and pitch tent along with such numerous possibilities as the BLM can offer.Image

Nick has ridden the whole dived twice now, but this is my first glimpse of it since only moving here last spring. Needles to say, I am very excited to ride any part of it!Image

Along the trail we find freshly grated dirt roads with little moisture, until we hit higher elevation.ImageImage

Some snow still around from the storm that our friends were trying to avoid. This was only true at 8200 feet or so and along the shadowy side of this peak.ImageImage

After a grand Thanksgiving feast over the fire, we pass out and awoke to beautiful sunshine.Image

Our dog pepper absolutely loves the snow.Image

Typical New Mexican Corral. looks intact mostly.Image

Ready for another day of riding!Image

Here we find what we kept calling cookies and cream. The volcanic rocks of El Malpais National forest covered in snow as far as the eye can see.Image

Nick doing what he does best.Image

The sign did warn us it would be impassable when wet, but we pressed on… ImageImage

For a while at least, till drive trains are clogged, and conditions get worse.Image

So we turn back, towards Zuni Canyon.Image

Lael still has some mud troubles… Meanwhile the two capable mechanics sit by and watch… so nice of us…Image

Freshly grated dirt roads, mean optimal speeds.Image

As well as breathtaking views. After were done, we load up the car and head for Flagstaff (which Nick and Lael had been boasting about for nigh the entire week). Arriving after dark, we grab some food and a quick beer at a local tap and camp just outside of town.Image

A view from inside our tent as Mel and I both thought the pup was being cute enough to be picture worthy… party grammin?Image

National forest just 10 Miles outside of Flagstaff, we awoke to no sunshine, but a breathtaking view nonetheless.Image Mel didn’t want to get out…

We part ways just after noon, Mel and I were exploring town a bit having never been there, and Nick and Lael were doing laundry, fixing bikes, and planning there next move. It was a sad day, we could have spent so much more time with those two. All in all, it was a fantastic week. Never have we made such quick friends in which we had such long involved conversations, and yet still able to enjoy the comfortable silence of the open road together. I adore our new friends, and very much wish that our paths will cross again.

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an afternoon stroll

So it turns out that fall is a really pretty time of year even in the desert… make that, especially in the desert. It was my day off, and I was doing a bunch of chores when I had an itch to ride. With no real plan, I set off to ride the Bosque single track, as I always do when I don’t know where else to ride. It was 4 in the afternoon, late October, and the cotton woods were in full autumn mode. Never have I been blown away on such a simple ride.

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btw, these pics will never do the real thing justice

a brutal ride to Cabezon

the title says it all.

On paper the ride looked easy. Ride to the outskirts of town, take Pipeline road out to EL Cabezon… roughly 50 miles, almost entirely on dirt road(s) around 1500 feet of climbing total. Definitely doable, and if I got there early I could ride the nice Cabezon loop that goes through BLM and on to the pueblo. Or so my naive positivity led me to believe.

Well, what paper routes don’t tell you is that record winds will blow on this day, and they would be blowing exactly from the direction I would be riding to. As if the Cabezon Mesa was blowing directly at me… so it felt more like 100 miles, and 1000 feet of climbing… hard, yes, but i still finished it.  Anyway no more complaining from me…

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this is my absolute favourite thing about being in the desert… being able to see where I am heading. Seeing long distances is both breathtaking and reassuring.WP_20130930_045 WP_20130930_047 WP_20130930_056

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first selfie i’ve ever taken

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its not an adventure till you have to portage something…WP_20130930_148

riding the turquoise trail

 

On a whim, and with news of a day off. Mel and I decided to ride the Turquoise trail, from Albuquerque to Santa Fe. Well,  Mel only had one day off, and we weren’t sure if we’d have the legs to ride the entire thing, we devised a way to make it work.

 

Mel had to work on Sunday, So I rode from our place to Madrid, NM. Which is along the road, and a decent 50 mile day for myself (mostly climbing, and the rain…) I’ve ridden most directions so far, and this is the furthest east I’ve gone. I cant tell you how excited i was to see the east mountains I’ve heard of so much. So much to take in, so much green, and to be surrounded by mountains is just breathtaking.

As I said before, Whilst I was riding, Mel was working… but when she got off of work, she drove up to meet me! Then we proceeded to stay in the coolest  B&B in town, which was only one room, and above the coffee shop in town. A nice way to avoid the rain, and some good R&R for mel having worked so much lately.

So the next day we rode the rest of the trail to Santa Fe brewing for lunch… which they apparently do not serve food at all (serious bummer). So we then traveled further to Second Street Brewing in Santa Fe proper, and was not disappointed  in the least, serious calories consumed, and pretty good beer.

After food in our bellies and the bonk debunked, we traveled back to our car in Madrid. Mostly Downhill mind you as Santa Fe is roughly 7200 and Madrid is 6200 (were still getting used to this whole elevation changing from town to town thing). 

ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageAn amazing couple of days to be sure… A perfect blend of riding, exploring, spending time with loved ones, and the perfect way to spend the day off.

Next time we ride the trail, were gonna do the whole thing… the easy way… SF to ABQ downhill… all the way…

 

El Camino Real… the OG route 66 (pre-1937)

There is something beautiful about taking something that was once used for one thing, and using for something totally different… say riding your bike down parts of route 66. Now it hasn’t been used as a main route since before 1937, but most of it is still there, albeit in much different condition, and owned by so many different people now.

So, from my home I took the Rail Runner to Santa Fe, and set out to ride the Camino Real back to Albuquerque roughly 75 miles with small detour to avoid private native roads. The part I was most excited to see was La Bajada (the Descent) which proved to be way more difficult than my 700×38 tires were prepared to endure. The rest however was a really great mix of pavement, loose gravel, sand, and just plain ol rocks.ImageImageImageImageAtop the mesa, about to descendImageI would love to have seen cars try and get up or down this…ImageImageI really wish I got a close up of those rocks… man this was seriously hard to ride on… shoulda brought the 29er. ImageImageImageswitchback heaven! if you look this up on the map it looks like a snake.ImageImageImageIts not the highest elevation change but what it lacks in that, it make ups in total gnarImageImageAlso, look how green everything is… kinda weird for the southwest, or at least I thought so.ImageIf you look close, there are two horses staring at me ahead… they didn’t move a bit, just stared at me as I rode past… ImageImageImageIn all, a very pretty ride, and a wonderful way to spend the day. I’ll do it again with Mel, but the next time I ride back from Santa Fe, I’ll take the Turquoise Trail.

right of passage

I’ve been told that falling on a cactus while trail riding is something that happens to everyone once. Kind of like a right of passage.

Well it happened to me less than a month after moving here… so I was feeling pretty good about myself not even thinking twice about the possibility of it happening again…

I also finally got to ride the good section(north part) of the Sandia Foothills trails. As I am new and ever learning about this riding off road thing, I had a freakin’ blast. I dropped Mel off at work so I could use the car to get to the trail head (which, so far, is my least favourite thing about Mountain biking… HAVING to use the car to get there, anyway, another time) , so it was pretty early on a Monday. Trails mostly to myself, except for a couple of really grumpy looking hikers. The trails were fun, challenging, rocky, tacky, flowing and just downright fun… I will be back and I hopefully will not fall on a cactus again… no pics to prove the cactus this time, as they were on my butt, and I’m trying to keep this PG.

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the adventure gods are not pleased…

Or rather, they must think I’ve been having too much fun lately and not enough adventuring… For yesterday I had it rough…

So its been raining recently (yay! no more drought) but that means, you shouldn’t go to places with valleys of red clay… well no one told me that.

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sorry for the blur on this one… but i do need new shoes now…

 

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good news is that I didn’t get totally stuck, and I had a pretty good time afterwards. But, I do need new shoes now and I will avoid the red clay when its wet in the future.