Riding up into the Aspen trees

“I realize my humanity in proportion as I perceive my reflection in the landscape that enfolds me.”  –N. Scott Momaday, Testimony, 1996.

After breaking my hip last year, what I found I missed so much was going outside and into the mountains on a bike ride. As soon as I could get back to it, I did. Being outside pedaling into the mountains I felt so grounded, back in touch with nature’s healing powers.

Cycling out of town and getting into the mountains is a joyful exercise. It’s almost like you’re re-establishing contact with sacred ground. Riding my bike into the mountain forest feels like I’m entering nature with a whisper, my own breathing the main sound, along with wind sifting through the trees. You tune into the dynamics of light. Your attention to nature is rewarded, the world sort of invites you in. It’s seductive.

In this calm you are startled by the bustle of nature! During a bike trip last Fall, deer appeared suddenly in the Aspen grove I had stopped to admire. But when I looked at them it seemed like they were always there, like all of eternity was present in that moment of quiet.

My doctor told me to “ride my bike like crazy” when he saw me for my six month check-up from the hip surgery. The circular motion of the pedal stroke works wonders for breaking down the scar tissue. My physical therapist told me I was doing a good job helping myself by riding my bike. It felt good to receive the encouragement, and also felt awesome to get out into mountains that overlook town and soak up that energy.

One of my friends sent this article from the NY Times about a photojournalist stuck at home during the pandemic. The photojournalist just started documenting his rides in the local landscape. “It’s brought home the truth that you don’t need to board a plane and jet off to the far side of the world to experience a sense of travel or the romance of difference. It lies waiting on your doorstep — if you look” (Roff Smith). “These images, though, aren’t meant to be about me. They’re meant to represent a cyclist on the landscape, anybody — you, perhaps” he goes on to say. One of the gifts of this pandemic is more people are finding the necessity of outdoor adventure and making it local, sustainable travel, that anyone can do. Wonderful! As someone once said, cycling is contagious.

“And when I push off down the street, the world becomes big again, the way it used to be when I was a child: rich in detail, ripe for discovery” (Roff Smith).

And so I pedal on, continually looking for the next adventure out my front door. Things are different now. I know how fast things can change. If anything, I appreciate cycling even more. Grateful for the healing and a return to wholeness, I keep looking for ways to open more doors for more people, so they can get grounded on the bike too.

When you get out there on the bike and pedal, you realize the world is more beautiful than you think. You have to experience it. Feel it. I am so grateful to have more cycling to do. My sincerest thanks to everyone who has helped me get back on my feet.


An Open Love

“We want to create a community where we redefine what it means to be a cyclist, an inclusive and diverse community where people feel like they belong.” –Hilena Tibebe, New Yorkers are biking for black lives–and to end disparities in cyclingThe Washington Post, August 26, 2020

“Love flowers best in openness and freedom.”  –Edward Abbey

I believe the activity of cycling itself is the best communication tool for advocating for cycling and all its benefits, the connections cycling builds to health, nature, and our communities.  Along the way I’ve realized we also need to do more than just ride.  We need to create structural support for cycling and related self-powered mobility activities such as walking and rolling devices such as wheelchairs.  We need to build safe, inclusive environments.  So in 2013 I dove into the holistic side of cycling advocacy, and was really surprised to learn that some people who were advocating for cycling were divided.  Some people say that cycling needs to be separated from other vehicular traffic, such as automobiles.  Other people, usually experienced cyclists who know to go anywhere you need to use the system that’s been designed to connect places–our streets and roads–you need to deal with other traffic.  I think this is a false divide, and I advocate for a dual pathways approach, meaning we can cycle on both separated paths and regular, inclusive streets and roads.  Cycling is diverse and versatile.

“Someone else doesn’t have to be wrong for you to be right.” –Aileen, a New Mexican cyclist

An important aspect of designing for human movement is focusing on where our travel paths come together.  The term we most often use for this is “intersections” but there are no intersections in nature.  Things flow together and there are relationships.  When we think about travel relationships we have to think about power disparities and relational equalities, and creating an encouraging environment for those that may feel disadvantaged.  The easiest or common way to think about this is manners–such as when someone is at a disadvantage for opening a door, whether it be they are pushing a baby stroller, carrying bags, or are older and more frail–we offer to open it for them.  For a lot of reasons we need to understand better, in our normalized travel environment of the public road, we sometimes forget our manners, and the more powerful users take their advantage.  This goes against our values.

We need to ‘reconfigure our social relations on a plane of equality so everyone can flourish.’ –Elizabeth Anderson, MacArthur Foundation fellow 2019

The secret is to respect each other.  This begins with uniting the cycling advocates, and probably is dependent on people who are cycling valuing themselves and their own activities. Self-trust.  Most of all we need a culture of encouragement where people feel safe and supported. Every person is a cycling advocate, since cycling is a public experience.  It is part of our shared world.

It helps me to empathize with what people are feeling and experiencing.  We need to improve safety on the road for cyclists and all travelers, so I empathize with people who prefer to cycle on multi-use trails and paths for safety reasons.  And for people who cycle on the road, we need safety improvements made for our sake too!  We have feelings and sensitivities!  We love life!

In reality most of us cycle on all kinds of facilities, from roads to trails.  They are not mutually exclusive. I like it all.  The key is to have a choice to be able to cycle where you want to, to feel free to do so, and to be inclusive.  Every single person can feel welcome to bicycle.

“That can be me.” –Hilena Tibebe in The Washington Post (link at top of this blog post)

Further reading:

This post discusses the safety problems that arise when we deal with bias (for certain transportation types, or “modes”) in street design, operations and public relations.

“All of us” highlights unexpected unity we see in cycling

“Home trails” touches on the empathy we experience when we tune in to others we meet on the trail. https://bikeyogiblog.wordpress.com/2019/10/31/home-trails/

Waking up to the beauty of movement

“I love the sensation of movement”  –Ned Overend on why he rides, from Outridebike.org

Last evening the fragrance of the forest rolled down the mountainside into town where it filled my senses. On my bicycle today I follow the trails up into the origins of those smells, the beautiful evergreen forest canopy gracing the mountains, in the shadow of the rainfall.  Evidence of last night’s rain is all around, banks of sand washed over the ground in rippling forms, still trickles of water braiding in rivulets beading down the barks of trees and through all the meandering canyons, infusing the air we breathe and carried on the wings of the breeze.

Roots Farm Cafe in Tijeras, NM is delicious before, during, or after a ride

I’ve been waking up to the beauty of movement lately, thinking of all the special places I can go on foot and on bicycle.  I don’t take that for granted anymore.  Especially as I see more people take up the habit of exploring our world and being healthier and living life via walking and cycling.  There is nothing more beautiful to me than people out moving naturally on the earth.

A favorite destination is the High Desert, where I can practice finesse on my ‘road bike’ and get a feel for the land

“Enlightenment is not some good feeling or some particular state of mind.  The state of mind that exists when you sit in the right posture is, itself, enlightenment.” –Shunryu Suzuki

I think there are many ways to go places in this world, and just like love can be expressed in all vocations from farming to carpentry to management, we can tune in and pay attention whether we are moving, on foot, car, truck or bike, or standing still.  But for me the bicycle has been revolutionary.  Cycling extends my range but manages to keep me connected at a human scale.

I love cycling up a climb like La Luz. Even though I’m moving, my mind stands still and I become concentrated on my breathing.  I’m like a swinging door, breathing in, breathing out, aware now I’m interdependent on the oxygen in the air.  I have to work at the pedal stroke, but somehow that relaxes me.  Two legs make one motion.  When I get to the top of a climb satisfaction flows into me. Somehow my thirst is quenched.  I feel replenished. From home I climbed up into the mountain light.  I receive insights and perspective.  And I can turn around and draw a line with my bike, a connecting thread back to my home. We need movement like the Earth needs water.

Almost monsoon time

“That is why Buddha could not accept the religions existing at his time.  He studies many religions but he was not satisfied with their practices.  He could not find the answer in asceticism or in philosophies.  He was not interested in some metaphysical existence, but in his own body and mind, here and now.  And when he found himself, the found that everything that exists has Buddha nature.”  –Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind

As I reflect on all the people pedaling around our city environs, and realize there is a mixed record of land uses and varying impacts on environmental quality we experience while cycling, what Barry Lopez had to say in his book Horizon gives me a hopeful perspective.  The fact that today exists means there is hope now.  And even in these landscapes that have been altered so severely, often times for only one reason, the possibility still exists to see things whole and in the big picture.  There is still a lot to work with in the here and now, and all the time in the world to create our next dreams.  Every time I go for a ride, or see other people moving with natural grace, I feel like I am part of that, like I’m experiencing today the original creation, unfinished and ongoing, unfolding like a a flower.  When I’m on my bicycle I feel open to all this.

“Even in this logged-over landscape, soaked and gleaming, contradicting the apparent desolation of the clear cut, where stillness now accompanies the silence, I can imagine something like the original creation however mythic that thought might be.  Or the blueprint of another creation, unknown and unplanned” (Barry Lopez, Horizon, p. 129)

A young cyclists pedaling in to Bike-In Coffee at Old Town Farm, one of Albuquerque’s unique gems off the Bosque Trail

I’m really grateful for the bicycle.

“Keep Moving”  –Grandma

Art Gracing Our Cities

“A highly developed art of urban design is linked to the creation of a critical and attentive audience.  If art and audience grow together, then our cities will be a source of daily enjoyment to millions of their inhabitants.”  –Kevin Lynch, The Image of the City, 1960

As I bicycle and walk around our city, I enjoy paying attention to the landscape.  Here are some photos I took of murals and other art created by the city’s inhabitants.  Most of these pictures are from Albuquerque, and a few are from other towns in New Mexico.  I’ve pulled out some quotes from readings that I’ve been thinking about as I look around.

“At the heart of successful human navigation is a capacity to record the past, attend to the present, and imagine the future–a goal or place that we would like to reach.” –M.R. O’Conner, Wayfinding: The Science and Mystery of How Humans Navigate the World, 2019

“Your initial goal, unrealistic or mistaken though it may be, encourages you to make an effort in your practice.  The practice becomes easier, less stressful, less painful.  You develop a deeper appreciation for it.  The goal becomes doing the practice every day.”  –Norman Fischer, Our Grand Delusion, in the Sun Magazine August 2018

“Slow streets, overnight, transformed our family life and the lives of our neighbors. We had struggled to find a place to teach our daughter to ride her bike up until this point. It always seemed like such a production. Easier to just scoot along the sidewalk and put it off. But the minute the streets opened up, we got our helmets on and headed out. About an hour later, we had a bike rider on our hands. I’ve heard similar stories from so many parents across Oakland. The only thing that may be as reliable as toilet paper selling out during this strange era is kids learning to ride bikes.”  –Courtney E. Martin, “Slow streets are the path to a better city“, Curbed, 5.19.2020

“We can easily afford to conserve what we’ve been given and to wait patiently for a wisdom that so far has eluded us, a wisdom that will enable us to convey this gift, not simply consume it.” –Barry Lopez, Testimony, 1996

“Or maybe wayfinding is an activity that confronts us with the marvelous fact of being in the world, requiring us to look up and take notice, to cognitively and emotionally interact with our surroundings whether we are in the wilderness or a city, even calling us to renew our species’ love affair with freedom, exploration, and place.”–M.R. O’Connor, Wayfinding: The science and mystery of how humans navigate the world

“In The Need for Roots, the French philosopher Simone Weil claimed that ‘to be rooted is perhaps the most important and least recognized need of the human soul.’…Weil defined rootedness in an interesting way, not as lineage or birthplace but as participation in the life of a community that preserves ‘certain particular treasures of the past and certain particular expectations for the future'”.  –O’Connor, Wayfinding

“We move in space through constant contact with the contours of our environment.  We are in touch with our world at a visceral level, and it is the quality of our ‘being in touch’ that importantly defines what our world is like and who we are.” –Mark Johnson, The Meaning of the Body: Aesthetics of Human Understanding, 2007

“Through his studies of automobile drivers and airplane pilots, [James] Gibson came to the conclusion that perception and behavior are a single biological phenomenon, and both humans and animals directly perceive their environment in an act of knowing or being in contact with it.  We are not minds stuck in bodies but organisms that are part of our environment.  Gibson called his theory ecological psychology and it led to a new understanding of navigation.”  –O’Connor, Wayfinding

“History especially is illuminating, because where we are today is a product of ideas that we’ve inherited often from hundreds of years ago.  So you dig back into the origins of these ideas and it helps illuminate why we have the habits of thought today which might not be adjusted to current experience.”  –Elizabeth Anderson, MacArthur Fellow, Class of 2019

A few terms defined:

Vernacular–built by necessity, local, temporary, not necessarily fashionable, improvised.  Examples of the vernacular in downtown Reno can be seen in watching the people live in the street.  Skateboarders improvising transportation routes through corriders built for automobiles and walking pedestrians.

Establishment–much of the vernacular arises around the establishment’s landscape, but uses it in a way that is was not intended for.  The establishment represents law, order, property, rules, architecture.  It’s carefully thought out by planners with certain motives in mind.  Much of the built environment in downtown is representative of what the establishment were thinking, what their tastes are, what their education and expertise is emphasizing.  –my Geography 314: Cultural, field methods journal, 2001

Elements of Cycling — Bicycle Maintenance

“Why should not we also enjoy an original relation to the universe?” –RW Emerson, Nature

As more people are discovering freedom on two wheels and the joys and benefits of self-powered locomotion outside, we are reminded how essential cycling businesses are for supporting basic transportation.  Some public health orders were not clear on whether bicycle shops were designated as ‘essential businesses’ during the current public health crisis.  Bike shops are definitely providing essential services to families and especially our children.  The first rule of cycling safety is maintenance and a pre-trip inspection.  In addition to maintenance, bike shops do repairs, match us to appropriate equipment, and provide a host of services from bike fitting to route finding and local expertise.


as a professional truck driver, I inspected my truck every day, and at every stop, certifying it in my driver’s log;

“One of the principles of health promotion is to support an individual or community in taking control of their own health.”  –BCCHC (Bernalillo County Community Health Council, March 2020 announcement)

Many of the workers we rely upon use the bicycle to commute to work, such as doctors, nurses, food workers and more, plus the bicycle is used for deliveries and essential errands.  It’s important to ensure people have the assistance they need to make sure their bicycle is safe to operate.  This ‘basic bike check‘ is the first step before any ride.


Bicycle shops are foundational to healthy communities.  They provide the equivalency of services that automotive shops do for cars.  As we review things with fresh eyes, we are recognizing bike shops as essential service providers for transportation safety for all. Don’t let the simplicity of the bicycle fool you–it’s incredibly effective at making seamless work of uniting our basic needs for health, community, and sustainable mobility for perpetuity.

Resources to get (and keep) riding safely:
The community network of bike shops, instructors, orgs., etc. in New Mexico by the LAB, can be of assistance if you are started riding.  I’m listed as an instructor.  Drop me a line

City of Albuquerque bicycling information, including a bike map

PedBikeSafe is a resource about road design elements that citizens can use to be more informed and understand proactive safety measures, risks and hazards, and countermeasures.  http://www.pedbikesafe.org

On March 28th, the Dept. of Homeland Security amended its guidance to include “bicycle maintenance” and “employees who repair and maintain …bicycles” as part of the essential workforce: https://www.cisa.gov/publication/guidance-essential-critical-infrastructure-workforce This is guidance.  It only becomes law if our states and local entities follow it

Bloomberg Philanthropies partners with NACTO to provide the Transportation Response Center including tools for cities to support cycling  https://nacto.org/program/covid19/

Jose Jimenez, a professor of chemistry at the Univ. of CO Boulder specializing in aerosol science, recommends keeping up to 25 feet away from others while exercising outside https://theknow.denverpost.com/2020/03/31/exercising-outdoors-coronavirus-distance-apart/236439/

Cycling empathy

“Selfless awareness is the state we’re in when Nature or art or music creates a sense of wonder.”  –Deepak Chopra, Forward to Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life (NVC)

“Empathy: emptying our mind and listening with our whole being”–Marshall Rosenberg, NVC

Cycling has been a path into the greater world that has opened up space for me to live, learn and breath.  It’s enabled me to give up the stories I clung onto, and build up empathy.  Cycling works a lot like music or poetry or visual arts in this way.  It encourages us to be present to both ourselves and to the ‘other’ dimensions of the world, the material, the numinous, the interrelations.

Though the bicycle is an extraordinary tool for exploring the external world, what’s also interesting is the way it shines a spotlight, very subtly, on our own being.  As we cycle more and more, we discover that our powers are small and limited, but at the same time they are strong and sufficient.  And when we apply our focused selves through the instrument it is amazing where we can go and what we can achieve.

It’s a long journey!  And it is both a social and a solitary one.  Sometimes when I go somewhere the simple goal of returning home is a monument. You’re out there in the weather, that relentless summer sun, digging into the breeze, looking deep within yourself to muster up the strength to get back home.  Adrift and alone in a precarious situation!  We have to measure our energy stores, use our planning faculties and read the topography of the land.

It’s exciting to stretch your limits little by little.  Like a yoga class, we work into those postures gradually.  We recognize the form when we see it in our teachers and classmates, and we know we can picture our body getting there.  But it takes time and continual practice. Once we put our minds eye on the destination we begin the process of figuring out how to get there. It can be as basic as cycling to work or school or the grocery store.

I’ve experienced several disruptions in my cycling life, but each one has been particularly useful.  When I started driving a car somehow I dropped cycling.  I loved the range motorized transport brought me and the scale at which I could view the countryside.  But when I came back to the bicycle I found the intimacy and detail wonderful.  All of a sudden it felt like I lived in the places I was moving through.  The way the bicycle opened my whole being to listening in a way and activated all my senses.  It’s a mystery the way the world becomes incorporated into our being, but from what I can observe, a lot of that process is happening directly while cycling.

“What is true is that the world has a great deal to tell us…”  –Cormac McCarthy in Nautilus

The social part of cycling for me is about the communion we can build with other people.  Cycling is a lot like a community of artists, or scientists, or any profession, wherein the practice is a joint learning enterprise.  There is a collective knowledge and experience that forms the cultural foundation and shapes the education and expression.  Cycling culture reminds me of the way Luther’s reformation re-introduced congregational singing of vernacular music into church services, therefore enlisting the broader community in an active role in shaping the spiritual scene.  When I participated in the Slow Roll 505 ride in Albuquerque, or the Iron Horse, it is like being in the middle of a church choir song in nature’s cathedrals.

And so I keep circling back to our cycling traditions, the faith in its power to restore our  empathy with individual selves, our families and communities, and all of nature grows stronger.  In Barry Lopez’s interview with The Sun magazine in December 2019, he suggests what our present situation really requires is attention to stability and justice.  “Who provides stability in the chaos of modern life?  It is people living in a prayerful way” (The World We Still Have, p. 15).  In a metaphorical sense I recognize the force cycling brings into my daily life.  It is so plain, mundane and ordinary and beyond compare.

Morten Lauridsen on the writing of “O Magnum Mysterium”

A sky as large as the ocean

Yes, we all experience terrible things… I like to see it as this is our species-wide endeavor.  How do we change what happened to us into how to live better.  That’s the great great conundrum.  –Ocean Vuong on PBS

Every year I read the MacArthur Foundation awards.  The writer Ocean Vuong was amongst the class of 2019 MacArthur Fellows.  Over a series of a few days I watched the two or three minute summary videos posted for each fellow.  Ocean’s stood out to me, but it wasn’t until a few months later when I came back to it, and found more interviews with him that I started to understand why his work resonated with me.  There were parallels to the way he was trying to write about a new way of being in the world to what I have been trying to do here, write about cycling as a way to live that is powerful and vibrant.


In Nevada my friend Dave and I rode the horse trails across the Humboldt Range after getting our bikes lifted to the start on 4-wheeler by his father Burl

Ocean’s novel, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, is a lot of things, but a central theme has to be American masculinity.  What does it mean to be a man?  On the bicycle I discovered I had strengths I didn’t recognize before, and one of those was a loving heart.  The heart literally drives your motion on the bicycle.  This is so powerful to let your light shine this way but somehow rather than celebrating it universally our society can sometimes be critical of those who ride bicycles.

Writing helped me understand, that although you can technically be a victim…whether you live in victimhood is up to you.  We can’t change what happens to us.  But we can change how we live in order to have a successful life.  I think one of the great powers of writing is when you can take your story and present an alternate future of where it is headed, you can take control of your life.  —Ocean Vuong


There is a wisdom to accepting what happened is beyond your control.–Ocean Vuong

What I learned from these refuge women is you don’t have to talk it out.  That is the great western myth.  That you got to talk it out, get a therapist, lay it all out.  –Ocean Vuong

A lot of the times I ride it out, and work it out by using that energy to try and understand where people are coming from.  One of the great gifts of cycling is it helps cultivate self-empathy if you let it.  And starting with self-compassion, you can expand your awareness more to what is going on with others, who are unique, and also not so different from us.


One of the greatest joys is riding with my family

What they can do is say regardless of what happened, I care for you, and I’m going to find a way to keep caring for you.  —Ocean Vuong

Recently my mother told me to keep riding my bike.  This kind of verbal encouragement and acceptance of what I do, of who I am, means a lot to me.  It starts here, creating that culture of encouragement between our loved ones, within our families.

Rage and anger are energies.  They are raw energies ready to be recycled and reused.  But if we use them, anger is a force that extinguishes the wielder as well as the world.  I’m more interested in using the energy of compassion and understanding.  I’m at my best when I say, I’m angry about this, but I need to know why you are doing it to me.  —Ocean Vuong


It is true we are all alone in this world, but equally true we couldn’t do anything by ourselves.  Vuong gives ‘the ten books he needed to write my novel’ here at Literary Hub.  I’ve tried to document my sources of inspiration here on this blog, including the first hand experience that I am having on my everyday rides with my friends in our community.  The really beautiful and exceptional thing about cycling is everyone can embody this identity and experience the world in this way.  That’s why I keep inviting people to join the fun fun fun.  We can actually do what Thoreau urges us to do, and experience the world through each other’s eyes, like what literature does.  Hope to see your light shining on a ride!




What a man leaves behind is what a man is.  –Toni Morrison, “A Mercy”, quoted in The Sun Magazine, March 2020

Further Reading: A previous post on Comprehensive Planning as a tool for humanity’s development: https://bikeyogiblog.wordpress.com/2015/10/10/planning-for-a-healthy-legacy/

Wings over the Manzanos

After spending Friday riding in Albuquerque, Saturday September 28 seemed like a good day to explore the countryside.  I had been curious about a road on the map to Capilla Peak in the Manzano Mountains.  It appeared to go all the way to the crest of the Manzanos, which is unique because most of the high country is designated wilderness.  But the road to Capilla Peak was not, which meant I could ride my bike there.  I headed east out of town through Tijeras Canyon, crossing over to the eastern flank of the Manzano range and headed South towards the town of Manzano.

(This song is named Albaycin, which is a district in Granda, Spain.  Since the Manzanos were named after the Spanish word for apples, it makes a good match for this ride.  It lends a sense of motion.)

I figured this ride would be over a 100 miles so I stopped at the Ten Points General Store at the top of the climb up South 14 above Tijeras.  Country neighbors were touching base there as they picked up supplies for their weekends.  The US Forest Service had just suspended firewood permit sales a few days earlier in five national forests in New Mexico, including Cibola.  This was a big deal since many people heat their homes with local forest wood.  While I was fueling my own engine with assorted snacks and beverages I purchased at Ten Points, another customer was saying how thankful he was for he wood he already had stored away.  He was already getting offers from others to purchase his wood, but he said he wasn’t selling any of it.  A week or so later the Forest Service modified their rule to allow personal firewood cutting and gathering, again.  I pedaled on enjoying the day with anticipation of the unknown journey unspooling down the road ahead.

In Manzano I turned right on Forest Road 245.  The pavement ended.  I felt like the ride was just beginning.  I was heading up the mountain and would climb all the way to about 9,200 feet above sea level.  A beautiful road with very light traffic.  I passed through New Canyon Spring campground and one lone traveler was packing up his tent.  We waved at each other.  I climbed higher and higher through burn scars and into the clear blue mountain light.  The scrub oak was turning bright colors.

At the very top the road intersects with the Manzano Crest trail, and there is a trail leading to a raptor viewing area staffed by HawkWatch International.  Since 1985 every late summer and Fall HawkWatch does a raptor count and studies the migrations through the southern Rocky Mountain Flyway.  The raptors catch the thermals rising over the mountain ridges.  There is also a campground at the top where the HawkWatch crew stays during the migratory season.

I felt like I was on top of the world.  The viewshed was open in every direction, and the clear dry air was transparent.  To the east the sparsely populated Estancia Valley stretched out to the white salt basins and plains beyond.  To the west I could see the green ribbon of the Rio Grande.  There is something magical about seeing the beauty with our own eyes what for so long had been unknown or just a line on a map.  The joy of accomplishment and discovery bubbled up inside me as it felt so good to be present in this unique moment time, enfolded by the landscape.

I couldn’t stand around for long, however, as I still had to get home.  I was careful on the dirt road descent, but that road really flows.  I hit some washboard sections pretty fast but managed to hang on and use the gravity to soar downhill.  By the time I came into Tajique I was almost out of liquids but Rays One Stop Store was open and I bought three cans of soda.  He might have been selling gold as far as I was concerned, and it was enough calories to get me home. I can see the Manzano Mountains from our kitchen windows.  Even though I have been looking at them for five years since we moved here, after this ride, my feeling of connection changed.  There is something intimate and comforting realizing more about the nature and the beauty of the land that enfolds us, especially the quiet, unheralded, but still awesome Manzanos.


HawkWatch Manzano Mountains, NM https://hawkwatch.org/manzanos

Ten Points General Store in Tijeras (or Escabosa) https://www.facebook.com/TenPointsTijeras/

Buy apples in season at the Manzano Mountain Retreat https://www.manzanomountainretreat.com

A nice story about a fifth grader in McIntosh, NM at the base of the Manzanos saving two barn owls when their family barn collapsed in high winds https://edgewood.news/hawks-aloft-and-carson-dismuke-release-rescued-owls/

Tortuga (exploring Albuquerque murals on bicycle)

Landscape is a unity, a wholeness, an integration, of community and environment; man is ever part of nature, and the city is basically no less involved than the countryside.  –D.W. Meinig, “Reading the Landscape” in The Interpretation of Ordinary Landscapes: Geographical Essays

The main reason I ride a bicycle is to get where I want to go.  Sometimes I get an idea of places to go from someone else’s rides.  John Fleck, a UNM professor and journalist with an emphasis on water, posted a ride on Strava with pictures of these cool murals depicting scenes from Albuquerque’s Bosque with colorful flora and fauna.  It looked beautiful and I wanted to see it.

John posted a picture of the Pacific Avenue street sign on his ride, but I couldn’t make out the cross street.  So the first time I ended up looking for these murals I rode up and down the wrong section of Pacific.  I was on the West side of the railroad tracks.  It turns out the murals are by the Tortuga Art Gallery on the east side of the tracks.  I found it on my second try.

Standing there in September light, I marveled at this mural!  The street became a theatre for this wrap-around art work transforming an ordinary building into a vibrant bio-scape.  It must always look different in the changing light.  Even though I only found what was already there, it gave me a sense of discovery and hope.  Thank goodness there are artists working in this world!

While pedaling down Edith away from this mural a kid on his porch gave me a big wave and I waved back.  It’s amazing how the bicycle creates a sense of adventure and connection that is so accessible and easy to enjoy, right out our front door.  I took the Bosque Trail northward and the long way home, paying closer attention to the ordinary beauty all around me.


Check out this website collecting Albuquerque murals!

The mural in this blog post:

You can find John Fleck on Strava,

and also check out Mr. Fleck’s great blog on the geography of water in the arid West:

Here’s my Strava ride to view the Tortuga mural:

Home trails

has been sleeping
–and still sleeps–
lulled within the
narrowly confining 
joys of its
closed loves.
–Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

I love exploring Albuquerque’s Open Space on urban trails.  Our trails put me in touch with the healing powers of nature.  The trails are often times small, and that can bring trail users into close proximity.  That gives us opportunities to contribute to well-being in a neighborly way.

The best kind of trail in my opinion is singletrack.  This is even more challenging to share than a small two-lane road, where a person may take up a whole lane, but there is still another lane to pass providing you can see it is clear of oncoming traffic for the necessary distance.  When you meet another person on singletrack, you have to negotiate a safe pass, because by definition there is only room for one line of traffic.  This always requires communication, patience, awareness of and respect for the well-being of others, and restraint by the speedier users.

One day on a singletrack trail in High Desert, I got stuck behind a couple walking and talking.  They were going in the same direction I was.  They had two dogs off the leash.  I said hello and that there was a bicycle behind them.  They didn’t hear me or see me.  I kept a safe distance behind them and waited until there was a pause in their conversation, and used a louder voice to try saying hello again.  On the third or fourth try they heard me.  I stopped and waited as they gathered their dogs and attached the leashes to the collars.  They found a safe place to move aside and when they were set they waved me on.  We exchanged smiles and greetings with remarks on how beautiful the day was outside.  It felt so good to share pleasantries.  By taking time I made new friends.  I felt like my patience paid off, not only in waiting for them, but the feeling I got inside from negotiating a safe, friendly pass contributed to my own well-being.

Our situational awareness as travelers takes into consideration the well-being of others.  It is not just about going somewhere, it is about being with people in places and safeguarding dignity.  In our travel culture I sometimes see an atmosphere of incessant rushing.  And in traffic engineering, there are metrics such as travel speed and throughput that stress industrial measures that can overshadow human needs such as community, enjoyment and quality.  The trails are a good place to get back in touch with ourselves and forge those vital connections once again.  It takes discipline, but when we focus our attention there, good things happen.

In Colorado Springs, the Garden of the Gods offers trail opportunities for exploring the land

An important mentor of mine for teaching youth cycling told me that kids don’t get “yield”.  It is kind of a complex word.  He found that it works better to teach kids to “give it up” when they see other people on the trail, at junctions, or crosswalks.  This works well, being present to the needs of others.  This also includes horses, which are common on New Mexico trails.  In that sense, the rules for urban trails teach us to give it up and be present to all of life in nature. By doing this, we experience a fuller measure of nature’s healing powers right here on home trails.