Monthly Archives: July 2015

Santa Fe Hill Climb: Sunday Morning Ride

The Santa Fe Hill Climb is coming up this Sunday morning.  It is one of the best rides.  Registration is open online through today and also available in person Sunday morning.
Here’s the website:  Santa Fe Hill Climb 2015 or you can go to

sweet pies

Anyone can do it.  All you need is your bike.  Take the initiative to ride.  I love to spend a Sunday morning climbing up above 10,000 feet in elevation in one of the most beautiful cities on earth.

the view

The view won’t be exactly like these photos taken above Albuquerque, but similar indeed.  The Southwest monsoon is strong this summer.  The bouquet of piñon essence in the clear mountain air coupled with the eruption of roadside sunflowers will make a great setting.

tierra mixture

Hiking from Home: Embudo Trail

flowery Manzano viewscape

Nature is very consonant and conformable to herself. –Newton
Beauty is a very successful criterion for choosing the right theory.  —Murray Gell-Mann

pointing to Manzanos

holding steady

piñon brain

It’s my recovery day after six days of enthusiastic riding.  I decide to try active recovery and go explore Embudo Canyon at the top of Indian School Road.  Walking in a place where the desert meets the pine forest helps sooth my mind and body.  I soft pedaled through the neighborhood in my Chaco Sandals.  No spandex today thank you.  Just taking it easy with my sunhat and backpack on.  I took the Paseo de las Montañas trail and at the top of Indian School past the water tank I passed the Wilderness Boundary and stashed my bike in the bushes.  Hiking time.

pine over sky


earthy flowers

I walked past huge boulders through the narrow canyon neck and the terrain opened up.  Desert wildflowers flashed against a backdrop of dark green piñon pine, smooth faces of granite rock and deepening blue skies.  I walked to the Tres Pistoles and Crest Trail junction.  I was drawn up into this mountain wilderness.  Right next to Albuquerque but very different.


love tunnel

new mexico vegetation sky flow

I used this time walking to reflect on the bike work and research I’ve been doing.  Murray Gell-Mann’s phrase “you don’t need something more to get something more” keeps ringing in my ears.  He’s talking about the fundamental principals of physics, and how complexity flows from simple rules plus innovation.  Bicycling and walking work that way for our transportation system.  It is the perfect symmetry for building a broader range of mobility freedoms and extending choices to people for getting somewhere.  It’s that simple.  We need more human scale choices that fit our sensibilities and allow us to apply our powers directly.


on mountain high

Manzano view

Sometimes people tell me I’m crazy for wanting people to be freer to bicycle.   But the world is changing.  Have you heard of the giving pledge?  The Gates Foundation has talked Warren Buffet and 137 (so far) super wealthy people to give 50-100% of their fortunes to philanthropy during their life or in their will.  It is not the systemic fix for our wealth distribution imbalance but it is an innovative interim solution.  Who would of thought, rich people giving their money away.  That’s crazy, but it is happening.  Credit kindness, generosity, ambition and human ingenuity.


prickly pear to Manzano framed by pines

fire fragrance

Walking helps me to get a feel for how plant communities fit together and take to the sides of the towering Sandia mountains.  PBS’s Nature showed the science behind how plants talk to each other and cooperate.  It makes sense that living things would connect.  Visible elegance is evidence of how the world works and how living things get along.  Thanks to the foresight of people preserving this land adjacent to ABQ I had a refreshing hike from my front door.

that color purple

ABQ by Bike with Strava, Camera, Notepad

Albuquerque has an elegant symmetry to it and you can sense this on a bicycle.  The Sandia Mountains and Rio Grande and West Mesa are all in consonance with each other.  Today I rode out onto the West Mesa.  I have never seen it so green.

West Mesa greenery

West Mesa Atrisco Vista behind the volcanoes

Tramway July 15 2015 shoulders

Around Christmas I started tracking my rides on a free program called Strava.  Looking at the cool maps and training logs Strava creates, I’ve noticed certain habits.  I trend toward staple rides.  For instance, I like the Sandia Crest, which is the best ride available.  I like La Luz, South 14, Gutierrez Canyon, the Bosque Trail.  But today I wanted to do something different and I was feeling satisfied having spent ample time recently on all my favorite routes.  So I did something new and headed through the southwest quadrant out to the West Mesa.

bike in coffee mi amigo

bike in coffee July 15

Bike in Coffee is an attractive destination. Biking fits really well with sugary treats and caffeinated beverages

The southwest quadrant flows in meandering contours in harmony with irrigation canals and pastures.  It is part of the agricultural heartland that runs up and down the Rio Grande valley.   These rural roads within our metro area make for interesting riding.  It is not the straight up grid system we have on the east side.  I left my map in my pocket and got pleasantly lost.  One thing I notice all over town is how people connect the different parts of the city together.  We do it with neighborhood themes and unifying infrastructure such as main streets and greenways.  Community emerges from the basics that nature provides.  The river, the land, the people.  As we make the city more amenable to bicycling we’ll see a more beautiful tapestry emerge.

Many of our bike boulevards such as this one on Silver pass through residential neighborhoods with tremendous character

our bike boulevards such as this one on Silver travel through residential neighborhoods with tremendous character

San Pedro RGCU 2

This photo and the one below were taken in the Mile Hi District with the reconfigured San Pedro with Bike Lane


San Pedro redesign space for bike peds

Copper St. no centerline cooperation key 2015.5.28

This section of Copper Ave. just west of I-25 has no centerline. People drive more slowly and carefully and negotiate

One of the gifts of bicycling in Albuquerque is the tremendous diversity of riding available.  I’ve polished up my skills and learned new ones discovering Albuquerque by bicycle.  To get to the best riding in each region of town you end up navigating different types of infrastructure design.  The variety keeps me sharp.   There’s a little bit of every kind of terrain you could think of finding.  Bicycling here is like the best of novels or plays.   You can go back for the same pleasures and each time you can discover more.  Here’s a link to today’s ride on Strava.

Santa Fe Institute, the Humanities, and Learning

“If I had to vote for one novel by a living American it would be Blood Meridian which is a fearsome story…with a deep implicit warning for American society…Bloom Meridian is the ultimate western.”  –Harold Bloom, How to Read and Why (see video below)


I have heroes in life.  Most of them are writers.  Barry Lopez, Wendell Berry, Peter Matthiessen, EO Wilson, Emerson.  Their voyaging curiosities usually interact with science, philosophy, anything and everything to help follow the narrative and tell the story.  One of the people I look up to, Cormac McCarthy, has articulated some wisdom in this two minute video below.  He says the Santa Fe Institute, where he engages regularly, is “absolutely relentless at hammering down the boundaries created by academic disciplines and by institutional structures.”  It is also good to hear the focus on sustainability, the environment, and human welfare.  It doesn’t narrow down the avenues to achieving improvements in these things, but identifying them as the center points for our pursuits is a timely focus based on what we know at the present moment.

It is inspiring to see one of America’s heroic story tellers interacting with science and society.  If you have not read Bloom Meridian, give it three tries.  Even uber critic Harold Bloom had to put the book down the first two times he tried.  “You get a great vision, a frightening vision, of something that is very deeply embedded in the American spirit, the American psyche.”  I love the unity of literature, history, and science working to solve the problems we have in front of us today.  We need all the help we can get.

Walking on Top of the Sandia Crest

On Sunday I rode my bicycle up to the top of the Sandia Crest and met my wife there for a hike along the Crest trail.  Albuquerque is a mile high in elevation above sea level.  The Sandia Crest is two miles high.  While hiking we saw a young girl peering over the mountain’s edge at the city below.  She said the cars look like ants down there.  Indeed your whole perspective changes on top of the Crest.  Ranges of mountains span across a huge 360 degree horizon.  Clouds hang and dance along the Sandia’s edges and swell up high in the early afternoon sky.


perspectives change

clear path

We have lived here since October and this is our first time walking the Crest Trail.  There are so many magnificent things to do that make Albuquerque exceptional, from the Petroglyph National Monument on the West Mesa to the Foothills in the east, to the central bosque green belt and Rio Grande flowing through town.   Certainly the Crest has to be the crown jewel.

coulds flew

Peaking out 100 mile vista

Mai on Crest

One of the things that came up at the city planning focus groups last Friday was elevating Albuquerque’s image.  It was quite apropos from what I’ve noticed since moving here.  Those in the know understand that what makes Albuquerque unique is a certain richness–in landscape, people, languages, cultures, food–in a searing Southwest combination that is completely unparalleled.  But helping people share in that celebration, and making it a coherent vision to put forward is a challenge, and great opportunity for us to advance all the city is.  I heard another insight at the meeting that startled me.  A planner suggested Austin was a sister city.  That is a much better comparison than to Phoenix, Las Vegas Nevada, or another city in Texas.  We are smaller and funkier.  One thing I notice is we have more mountains than Austin.

CCC work plaque

view from the top

ski sandia

The top of the Crest is a great place to ponder the city from.   The city seems something we’ve created that is an extension of the form of the Crest.  Linking the two is a wonderfully scenic road that fits in so perfectly to these tilted mountains.  It runs up the thickly forested back side.  And there’s also an aerial tramway that you can take from the city.  It gives people mobility choices and keeps traffic down on the road to make it a quieter, cleaner and safer ride.  The ski lifts (pictured above) were taking hikers and mountain bikers up and down too.  Much of the initial infrastructure was done by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930’s when our country mobilized the workforce to address pressing needs and get people training their skills everyday.


banded knoll

aspen flowers

The extensive trail system gets people walking.  Doing ignites experiential learning.  We had a funny realization while walking.  It was our anniversary the previous day!  What saved me was that Mai forgot too.   Being up on the Crest together was a great way to start celebrating.  We reflected on how Albuquerque is a wonderful city, and how by living here we find opportunities to learn more about the big picture of the world around us.  Crest and city, each a form of each.  Crest and the city, a wonderful pair!


mountain house

Resources and ways to get involved and further analyze:

The Santa Fe Institute uses Complexity Science to study economic growth, social networks, transportation, and all the activities that fuse together in cities.

There are upcoming city planning meetings for citizens to express their voice and help with envisioning.  The Albuquerque Bernalillo County Comprehensive Plan is being updated along with the zoning ordinance, and in the process the planning agencies are conducting focus groups to instigate dialogue that will help set the tone for the planning framework.

Here’s my bike ride up the Crest from Strava:


Southwest Bike Initiative and Fundraising

Here’s a short fundraising & campaign update with photos from the Sandia Crest in July!  I’ve been busy researching and writing my bicycling guide Elements of Cycling.  And doing lots of outreach, communication, and education work in the Southwest U.S. region.  Please join the 17 grassroots supporters that have donated to my work at Crowdrise to help me reach my goal!

purple green rocks

When we set out to teach we also become students ourselves.  It has worked this way for me during the past year researching, writing and working at .  I’ve accomplished some of the goals I set out to do, and discovered more about the work that needs to be done.

sunflower on North Zamora road

I’m organizing a networking and partnership program called the Southwest Bike Initiative focusing on what bicycling can do for diverse constituents.  We are helping businesses, neighborhood associations, developers, non profits, governments and more realize and apply how bicycling can help fulfill their mission and make progress toward their goals.  We support and work with existing bicycling orgs and add new capacities to expand bike initiatives.

upper crest with deer

I’m continuing to race and work at events sharing my enthusiasm for bicycling.  I won the New Mexico State Road Championship in June, and the Sandia Crest race up Albuquerque’s highest mountain.  These build on the four State Championships I won in Arizona at the top amateur level.  With your support I’m planning on going to the US Masters National Championships in Utah.  I keep striving to exemplify honorable bicycling, and equally enjoy every aspect of practicing cycling including family rides, community rides, social events, research rides for bike planning and evaluation, and everyday rides to meet my regular transportation needs.  Practicing cycling every day is key to staying in touch.  Bicycling is contagious.  Bicycling for all!

Sandia woods

I’ve done a lot of service learning, and am sharpening my working skills as a transportation and sustainability professional with technical trainings and skills development.  My network of partners and community connections is growing and I see new opportunities opening up to make a difference.  I greatly appreciate your support of my start up fundraiser so I may continue this important work supporting people bicycling and developing all the components that make up the bike ecosystem and synching them up in an integrated way.  Thank you!

trees and ground

Getting Involved: Writing and Riding

Trek Hi Fi Alibi Brick

The Bike League sent me a reminder today to contact my US Senator about supporting a transportation bill amendment being voted on tomorrow.  Their message said:

“This amendment would ensure that the design of Federal surface transportation projects provides for the safe and adequate accommodation of both motorized and non-motorized users in the planning, development and operation of transportation projects!”

Click here to connect to your Senator.  It is essential to have the guidelines in place to support the development of an inclusive, balanced, affordable and accessible infrastructure so we have  healthy transportation choices.  Great walking and biking and transit is not only incredibly important now but it is a way to leave a positive legacy.  You don’t have to be a member of the Bike League to use their take action services.  My Senator, Tom Udall, respects word from his constituents and uses public input to guide his decision making.  Thank you Bike League for making it easy to correspond with our representatives on critical issues.  Rails to Trails Conservancy also has an action portal for this issue here .  Please let your Senator’s Office know what you care about.  These Federal decisions have significant impacts on setting the tone and scheduling the resource expenditures at local levels, where you live, walk and ride.

The most direct way of being involved is via bicycling every day.  I have done my dual duty today.  If you are looking for more riding, consider these two fine events this weekend.  These are small town based multiday cycling events in spectacular Southwestern country.

Capitol Reef Classic, Utah:
Salida 3 Day Cycling Classic, Colorado: or!salida-cycling-classic/c22rf

Reach out to your elected officials about your love for cycling.  Pedal every chance you get.  Both ways of being involved are worth every moment.  Arigato from the American Southwest!

arches and flowers

Business Monday: The Versatile Bike

It’s Monday morning.  Time for a bike ride!  How many people think of that?  But if you ride your bike to work, you have that to look forward to.  Kickstart your work week by combining exercise with transportation and you have just solved complex problems by making a personal decision that combines human ingenuity with a simple, no-frills technology.  It’s life enriching.

Bikes meet basic human needs while providing ample benefits.  One of the fantastic unintended consequences of bike commuting to work is you get fit.  Say you take one day off per week from your bike commute.  You are still getting eight rides (4 commute to, 4 commute from) in each week without even having to think about it.  You are just going to work or school or conducting routine business.  Necessary destinations are perfect motivators for sustainable exercise.

Bike commuting programs emphasize the tangible benefits businesses will see: increased employee productivity from an energized workforce, more efficient use of parking spaces, lowered health care costs, stronger employee network, positive community orientation promoting the general public welfare.  The practical side of bicycling is quantitatively significant and the beneficial gains, like statistical improvements in health, and efficiency gains in travel, are off the charts.  Bicycling is like eating well.  Or having beauty and the human touch and tenderness in our lives.  These things are so basic we often overlook them.  But they are central.

Ikebana Japanese fusion

The Aspen Institute’s Business and Society program works to help businesses put “values at the heart of practice”, and they help executives and emerging business leaders “explore new routes to business sustainability and values-based leadership.”  Facilitating employee bicycle commuting is a sure way to align practices with human needs while also increasing progress toward company goals.  It’s a good way to exemplify responsible leadership in the community.

For an employee the returns are palpable as well.  Instead of spending $30 for gas and having stress in traffic and worrying about parking, you can sail in on the greenway breathing fresh air while you’re priming your body for a successful day.  Most people I meet tell me they bike for wellbeing, to get outdoors, and for the social connections.  It is because the human values returned through bicycling are so meaningful that bicycling programs are so successful.

We’ve heard of Einstein getting ideas while riding his bicycle and Beethoven hearing music while out walking.  In this qualitative way bicycling is beneficial too.  It lifts us out of the doldrums.  We start to notice things while bicycling.  It also helps us notice each other.  David Boies and Ted Olson, the two lawyers who famously argued the opposite sides of the Bush vs. Gore case, spent a lot of time taking bike rides as they bonded  to work out their strategy to make arguments in support of gay marriage.  They were on the same team in that case.  The bicycle is an amazing method for breaking down barriers and bringing people closer while we spin away from our differences going down the same road.  Steve Jobs was famous for walking meetings to catch up with friends while sorting through difficulties, solving problems and having a good time.

Ikebana July Indpendence

Since we gather inspiration and energy from biking we may even say it is essential part of work.  For these reasons I don’t see any distinction between biking for transportation, recreation, work and leisure.  Whenever we are riding a bike we are doing all these things at once.  It is an integrated activity, just like business.  When we combine the two it helps us realize all the different facets and dimensions that make both business and bicycling fabulously rich together.

Resources and References:
The League of American Bicyclists has a Bicycle Friendly Business program that provides a road map and tools that businesses may use to incentivize and support bike commuting.

Bikes Make Life Better is an enterprising consulting service that works with businesses to set up the structure that fosters and encourages more employee bicycle commuting.  They’ve worked with Mozilla Firefox in Silicon Valley, and Stanford University, to create bicycle programs.

The Aspen Institutes Business and Society Program  “respects the power of business to shape the long-term health of society and works to align business decisions with the public good.”

David Boies and Ted Olson mention their affinity for sharing bike rides on Charlie Rose.

Epilogue: Who knew instead of ‘rush hour’ the morning commute could be a relaxing bicycle pleasure.  Who would imagine flowers could look like Sansai’s arrangements.  Make something new, just by rearranging things. Thank you Sansai Ikebana Studio for the flowers.

Three Rivers Petroglyphs: Art Outdoors

fly to paradise

The second part our Independence Day travels involved leaving the popular mountain towns filled with happy Texans, and finding our way down to where the mountains meet the desert at a place called Three Rivers.  The music below goes well with this blog post of the desert glyphs.

a fertile Sierra Blanca field

sweet lizard look

keystone markings

Three Rivers Petroglyphs is on federal land managed by the Bureau of Land Management.  The BLM is increasingly centering management strategies on conservation and low impact recreation.  Here human activities emphasize appreciation of cultural heritage and diverse ecosystems.  It is a wilderness for pondering strategies for sustainable development.


three rivers monsoon

sotol shot

There are two camping areas at Three Rivers.  One is in the desert just off hwy 54 next to the visitor center for the petroglyph trails.  The other is 7 or so miles up the road where the river comes down out of the mountains.  We stayed at the upper one.  It was quiet and uncrowded.  Desert vegetation converges with grassy foothills speckled with juniper and piñon pine.  Our campsite was cozy with a flat pad for our tent and a sheltered picnic table.  We stayed dry in the shelter when the afternoon monsoon rains came.  A nearby trail led to the vista points pictured above.  A surreal blend of flowering sotol, budding cholla, and fragrant piñon pines made up the landscape.  We cooked with the camp stove and gathered wood and lit a campfire.  The flames danced and the sky light disappeared from behind the gray monsoon clouds.

cholla crown

campsite before sunburst

The next morning I awoke before dawn and hiked upriver into the canyon folds of the White Mountains.  Ponderosa pines grow tall next to the river.  I saw no one.  Deer and cougar certainly frequent this region.  After breakfast we broke camp and headed down to the petroglyphs and walked out on the rocks under the early July desert sun.

zebra sheep


big horn with three arrows

There are over 21,000 petroglyphs that visitors can explore in the natural open amphitheater of the outdoors.  Animals are common subjects, bighorn sheep, lizards, and birds.  Geometric symbols abound.  The variety suggests interchange with many cultures, hunting, agriculture.  Human faces and forms were as interesting as ever to these petroglyph artists.  You feel original excitement discovering the glyphs haphazardly as you amble on the trail and through rock gardens.  The glorious setting, day unfolding, breeze, birds, plant fragrances, great spaces across the valley between ranges under the clear Southwest skies and hot sun, takes you away.


circles and face

corn man

You have to hop around and leap across rock tops to get the best angles.  There are engravings everywhere.  The experience was engrossing and stream-like.   The context and continuity of the natural settings make it possible for these renderings to communicate across the threshold of space and time.  The air bristled with anticipation as the hot sun began stirring the monsoons.




The subtleties and nuances take time to digest.  The canvases of volcanic boulders were used to accentuate lines and features.  Art grafted to nature’s palette.  Human earth expression.

human horns hands

corn man two

monsoons ballooning over Sierra Blanca

Pay close attention and things open up for you.  It is not like an art museum where you are told what to look at.  Three Rivers petroglyphs is crafted in concert with the unbridled wild.  The art is uncontained and unbounded.  The are no lamp lights.  Sun and shadow.  The folds of rock hold pictures at every angle in different layers and dimensions.  It is one of the most interesting places I’ve been to.  There is much to learn.  These petroglyphs set a story tone that is gentle, intriguing, mysterious.  Like a good book each time you go back (we’ve been twice now) you discover something more.  What unique, complex and subtle creations.  Thank you BLM and New Mexico for conserving this heritage so we can listen, observe, explore, and discover.

signals abound



Cloudcroft: A Cool Deep Blue

High up in the Sacramento Mountains towering above the Tularosa Basin there is a place called Cloudcroft, New Mexico.  It is about 9,000 feet “above stress level” as locals say.  The climate is much wetter and totally cooler.  When it is not cloudy the sky is a deep mountain blue.

west rim beautiful trail

To start off our Independence Day trip we went to a few places in New Mexico we have never been before.  First Carlsbad Caverns where we watched the bats fly out from the ground for their nightly feasting on moths and other insects.  Underneath a full moon with bright Venus and Jupiter illuminated twinlike after dusk, we considered the intricacies of the bats’ knowledge, and their nightly work keeping the ecosystem balanced.   We know so little about how bats operate.  Much is yet to be “discovered”.  The kids in the crowd kept tripping up the Park Rangers with unanswerable questions.  With insatiable curiosity and lively imaginations the youth exploring our world are already joining the corps of discovery.  The next day we descended into the caverns.  What a magnificent underworld beyond dreams.  Afterwards we picnicked, then headed towards Cloudcroft to camp in the Sacramento mountains.

aspen fortress

west rim trail

flowers on west rim trail

It is hard to imagine what elevation change does for climate and life zones.  The tops of the mountains are nearly 7,000′ above White Sands and the Tularosa Basin.  You can look out and see all the way across to the Organ Mountains over Las Cruces, with the San Andreas Mountains trailing to the north.  We camped close to the National Recreation Rim Trail and in the morning hiked through woodlands and meadows with Douglas Fir, Aspen, oak, and flowers for company.

west rim purple

west rim trail to aspen forest

white sands from west rim trail

It was beautiful.  We saw no one out on the trail.  To replenish we went into town to Mad Jack’s Mountain Top barbeque, then drank a coffee and enjoyed strolling around the small town.  It reminded me of the mountain town I used to live in up on the Colorado Plateau, except Cloudcroft is higher, smaller, and quieter.  Love this place.  Small town, big mountains.

west rim cloudcroft

gigantic aspen on west rim trail

west rim

Transitioning from the woods to town reminded me that what people are seeking for rest, rejuvenation and celebration already exists.  We don’t have to make it, we just take it in.  Observing the hasty arrivals you can see even on vacation people get distracted by the conveyances.  But as soon as you can settle down you realize what we are really after is all around us.  Walking with the perfect integrity of these high mountain woods breathed new life into us.  New Mexico has a lot to offer.  Cloudcroft in summer is good.

aspen greens

west rim new life