This is the time of year to relax and enjoy time on the bike and the gifts of the Fall season. It’s been a year since we moved here so I’ve been trying to explore more and go deeper into usual places, and take new roads that I’ve never been on before. Just as my love and respect for my life partner grows year after year, so does my appreciation for the Southwestern U.S.
I enjoy cycling east. When I ride into Tijeras Canyon the city ends abruptly and the real New Mexico emerges. It feels like the wild west, although one that is becoming friendlier and safer to travel through, with classic landscapes intact. We can keep it this way if we continue evolving our knowledge and practice of the conservation ethic. “When we see land as a community we belong to, we begin to use it with love and respect” (Aldo Leopold). Tijeras Canyon opens to stunning skies and broad slopes of two immense mountain ranges that harbor bear, bighorn sheep, deer, turkey. I can see in my minds eye the creek flowing out of the canyon and cutting across the desert connecting with the Río Grande in the South Valley. Beautiful.
On old Route 66 toward Edgewood they are repaving the road with smooth black asphalt edge to edge. The wide continuous shoulder makes for favorable operating conditions for pedestrian and bicycle traffic, and increases safety, visibility and maneuverability for all modes. The transportation agency also has signs up reminding us to look for bicycle and pedestrian traffic. When you get out to the Village of Tijeras you have an incredible selection of roads and trails. It is higher elevation there, and windy sometimes, but that just makes you stronger. Lots of people love cycling in the East Mountain communities. Friendly waves and smiles abound.
When you need an easier day of cycling, you can find great roads up and down the Río Grande Valley. Yesterday I was cruising Los Ranchos de Albuquerque and smelled roasting Chili. I had my backpack with so I stopped in and bought some. The roasted ones I bought were still warm, so I ate them with some sweet potatoes I was carrying that were left over from dinner last night. Superb comfort food. I think as the main roads are adapted for better bicycle travel, the local character will be even better appreciated, and the peoples’ inherent vitality will be freer. Albuquerque has unsurpassed strengths in diverse cultures, traditions and landscapes. We should keep it affordable, ensuring middle income people remain at the center of the cultural vibrancy here. Bicycling has been an outstanding vehicle to learn about the local character. Cycling embodies the best of everything, from the conservative principles of smaller is better and maximum efficiency, to the liberal value of free learning. It’s bilateral goodness, win win win. It is a traditional way of being. This is travel like humans are meant to move.
It is a well balanced mix of city and country here. This afternoon we are going up to Santa Fe to enjoy the free admission to the New Mexico Museum of Art and to experience walking life around Santa Fe. Santa Fe has a wonderful bike culture too, and together, Albuquerque and Santa Fe make for one of the most diverse destinations a person could possibly imagine.
Leopold, Aldo. A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There, Special Commemorative Edition . Quote from the forward, page viii.