The Sandia Mountains rise abruptly on the eastern edge of town. When you look up at the them it is hard to imagine you can ride your bike up there on a paved road that goes all the way to the top. We live at about 5,300′ in Albuquerque and the Crest tops out at 10,600+ feet. That’s a mile of climbing! Here’s a map of the ride. Here’s a song to go with the pictures and narrative.
This Crest road begins on the opposite side of the mountain from Albuquerque. So to get here ride through Tijeras Canyon and either turn north on HWY 14, aka the Turquoise Trail, or there are some quieter routes weaving through the laid back tapestry of the east mountain communities.
I love feeling the resistance through the pedals as I climb a mountain road on a bicycle. The world slows down but your body rhythms accelerate, your breathing, cooling systems, energy consumption. The slow motion intensity brings a steady concentration.
There’s a flat stretch after mile six where you can get some relief as you ride past the Sandia Ski Area. That’s at 8,600′. So you can kind of think of it as a two part climb. Anything to help approach this gigantic beast!
There are trailheads for walks with great vistas. Many bear, turkey, deer and animals all around in this forested highlands. There used to be bighorn sheep, the Rocky Mountain kind. Now I think the closest sheep live in the Manzanos to the south.
It’s a new world up here. You break out through the edges of the forest with great vistas to the desert and distance mesas and ranges. The color of earth and sky and scent of the trees is amazing. Invigorating. Cleansing. I feel incredibly alive when I’m climbing!
When you get to the top you have done something today! I keep meeting great people there and having fruitful exchanges. Yesterday a gentlemen told me about the Seattle to Portland two day ride. I’ve got to do it. I told him about Albuquerque’s own Day of the Tread ride. He’s going to do it. The Crest road reminds me of Going to the Sun road in Glacier National Park. Everyone is happy to be there because it is so obviously awesome. We are all overcome in a way by this shared experience of being in such a marvelous place at this moment in time. This road is special to me because it is right next to home and is a classic Southwestern US sky island type ecosystem with bands of colorful rock showing and that famous New Mexico blue sky glowing a deep penetrating blue. The workout is fantastic. Riding above 10,000′ is not easy.