Saturday, November 20, 2010

Right In Our Backyard

The East side of Sandia Mountain as seen above Otero Canyon.
Every weekend for the last month or so we've been heading North to the Jemez Mountains for some backcountry singletrack. Lane met a former pro rider who created miles of singletrack throughout this part of the Santa Fe National Forest. He doesn't refer to these trails as "rides" but rather, "adventures" and we learned why. With photos of waypoints, a map and a compass we headed off for our "adventure." Luckily we have some orienteering skills because the trails had practically disappeared, rendering the photos useless at times. The next few trips we took a GPS and had much greater success. Hopefully we'll have some photos to share from that area soon. It's quite beautiful and has become a favorite destination of ours.

With all of that traveling, however, we thought this weekend we'd stick closer to home. The village of Tijeras lies just East of Albuquerque and is home to a portion of the Cibola National Forest. The first time we visited Albuquerque we camped in this part of Cibola. In fact, the photo in this blog's title banner was taken on that trip! At 6,300 feet Tijeras has junipers and pines, yucca and prickly pear, cougars and bears. Fortunately, no large mammals were sighted on this trip.

Mountain bikers are allowed on many of the trails in Cibola National Forest and today we tackled a short 8 mile loop from Tunnel Canyon to Otero Canyon. The climb out of Tunnel Canyon was, for the most part, gentle with some loose, rocky sections and offered sneak peeks of Sandia off to the North. It is incredible how different the mountain looks from this side as compared how it appears from the valley. In the valley it looms above the city, rocky and impossibly steep. From the south its flanks rise up gently blanketed in pines.

The climb brought us to the top of a ridge with spectacular views of Sandia and the surrounding area. The picture at the top of this post was from this point as is this photo:

 The temperature hovered around 60 and the autumn light was perfect. I was so glad we got to be in the mountains today.

 I neglected to mention that we've traded in our stiff 80s bikes for 90s models with front suspension. I feel like I can take on almost any terrain without worrying about rattling my brain. Here I am on my "new" bike. The frame is a Soma Groove, for those who have an interest in that kind of thing.

The frame is smaller than my last mountain bike, so I look kind of gigantic on it. I think this is to my advantage on steep, rocky descents, however.

This is Lane's new bike. It's a Voodoo Hoodoo and the color is really spectacular.
This area was so easy to get to that we're already planning another trip for tomorrow. If you're in the Albuquerque area, Two Wheel Drive sells the map for Cedro Peak and Otero Canyon.

Happy trails!

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