Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Biking in Salida and Taos

In a few weeks a friend from San Fransisco is going to be visiting and the last time she was here we went on some cycling adventures. Admittedly, we were not totally prepared and spent much of one day driving around looking for good spots in the Jemez. This time we are bound and determined to do all the necessary reconnaissance so we have a great time.

Friday night we drove the 5 or so hours to Salida, Colorado. We slept in the back of the Subaru in the parking lot of the local bike shop. Temperatures dropped to the low 30s and we wore our down parkas when we woke up. After breakfast, throwing together some pb&js, and getting a few maps, we rode out of town on Hwy 50 for a 20 mile loop. During the first 8-10 miles we gained 2,000 ft. along a forest road. It was a long slog, but with lots of breaks was quite enjoyable. Here were some of the views:
This land is for sale!

About half way up the initial climb
Once we got to mile 8 we were pretty exhausted, but 6 miles of promising single track beckoned--and the sun was starting to sink. Much of the trail was loose and narrow and had far more climbing than we had anticipated. With our fully rigid vintage bikes we hiked a fair amount. The rolling singletrack through an open meadow and these views made it totally worth the effort.

I'm not sure if you can tell, but those pictures are a panorama. That's Salida in the valley. Pretty spectacular, isn't it? Soon after we passed through this open area we came upon the road whisking us back to town. Here's Lane beginning the descent:

After a rough few miles on double track fire road we came to a paved road as we headed back to civilization. Zooming into town we decided to quickly pack up the car, eat on the run and head south to Taos, New Mexico.  About 3 hours later we found a spot to call camp for the night along a forest road just outside of Taos. The stars were unbelievable. Transforming the wagon into our lodging we slept well after having ridden so hard Saturday.

A bit wobbly we started out on a 12 mile loop: Mondragon to Southern Boundary Trail. The Southern Boundary Trail is 30 miles of mostly singletrack and is considered one of the premier rides in the Taos area. We have intended to do this ride on more than one occasion and were ready to tackle some of it on this day. We had a topographic map with details of intersections and an odometer to help us keep track of our whereabouts. A compass also came in handy. Once again this ride was a steep climb to rewarding single track and then a very fast return to the car. Here's Lane on the slog up:
It was a beautiful day, with barely a cloud in the sky. Each of us spotted an elk and woodpeckers, mountain jays and mountain bluebirds kept us company. There were also red currants and what seemed to be rose hips. At one point we scared up some game birds--pheasant or grouse maybe; we couldn't be sure. Much of the ride was in the aspens and in a few weeks their leaves will begin to turn yellow and be truly spectacular. Here's Amy riding up one aspen-lined section of trail:

 After the long climb we reached the South Boundary Trail. Sadly our energy reserves, and the time of day, led us to only follow it for 2.5 miles. It was lovely, rolling and not too loose. At one point we went through an open meadow that was particularly gorgeous. Sorry, no pictures. The only other person we saw was just as we were returning to the trailhead. Getting back to the car we were tired but happy with the day's accomplishments. Hoping our favorite restaurant in Taos was open, we jetted back into town, only to find it closed. We settled on some not-so-great New Mexican and headed back to Albuquerque. It was great to get out of the city and into nature.

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