Category Archives: bicycle rides

Rolling Valles Caldera

Two weekends ago Mai and I took a trip to Valles Caldera National Preserve to ride bicycles.  They have a cool network of back roads.  Cycling is such a spectacular way to explore a park.

Valles skyline

Valles Mai Sailing

Valles Caldera is a supervolcano that erupted over a million years ago.  It’s an enormous uplift with a ring of 11,000′ peaks encircling a broad expanse of  grassy meadows in the caldera beneath the rim.  There are thousands of elk there, meadows and forest, lots of open space.

Valles slant

Valles Mai leaning

Valles real live cowboy

There’s also a working ranch.  We spotted a cowboy herding cattle with his two dogs, decorative shirt filling with air, puffing out, waving in the wind.  Mai said this was the first cowboy on horseback working the range she’s seen in her two decades living in the American West.

Valles cruising with Mai

Valles on the road with Mai

It was a pretty sweet ride.  Just after noon the building clouds started to let loose in places, curtains of rain drifting in curves toward the treetops that make up the jagged skyline.  The summer monsoon is pretty predictable in the Jemez Mountains this time of year.  We finished our ride just before the lightning and roaming grey clouds closed in on our location.

Valles meadow

Valles Mai smiling

Valles water

As we celebrate 100 years of American’s National Parks, I wonder about our vision and goals for the next 100 years.  I remember reading Edward Abbey’s rants about industrial recreation, and there still seems to be a growing trend towards bigger, heavier vehicles.  That’s certainly not sustainable, as we are not growing any more open space.  It makes a lot of sense to park your car at the visitor center and ride your bike in if you can.  Experiencing parks by bicycle is perfect.

Valles Mai

Valles purples and blue

Resources–
Valles Caldera has a rich and interesting history in many ways.  One of the innovative developments that has come out of human interaction with this unique landscape is “A place-based approach to science for land management.”  More on that here:  https://www.fort.usgs.gov/sites/sense-place-place-based-approach-science-land-management/sense-place-place-based-approach

 

Pedalling Circles Changes the World

Albuquerque celebrates Bike to Work Day on May 20.  Every day can be bike to work day.  But it takes only one day to get the habit rolling.  If you keep up the practice of biking to school or work, you can change your life.  Daily bicycling creates a more vital life.  A vital person energizes those around them.  By changing yourself you influence the world.   Make a bold decision.  Leave a legacy.  Ride your bike, or walk, to school and work today.  You can win a prize.   

ABQ BTWD Poster2016

Details on the Greater Albuquerque Bike to Work Day event are here–
https://www.cabq.gov/parksandrecreation/events/bike-to-work-day

Pikes Peak Hill Climb Challenge

The inaugural USA Cycling Hill Climb National Championships are taking place on America’s Mountain in Colorado Springs Saturday, August 13.  There is also a Gran Fondo fun ride on the same course, which begins at 9,390 feet and ends at 14,115 feet while traveling 12.42 miles.  That’s about 7% gradient average at altitude in thin air under Rocky Mountain splendor.   The Gran Fondo also has two shorter options with less climbing for the more reasonable set.

noncompetitive Gran Fondo Fun Ride with a link to a nice video of the ride by Col Collective
Hill Climb National Championship
Schedule of Events August 13 for both rides, the championship races and Grand Fondo

This event is my top goal for 2016.  I’ve done the Pikes Peak climb before back in 2013.  That year, the Mt. Evans Hill Climb was July 20 and Pikes Peak was July 21.  My teammate and I drove from Flagstaff and did both races.  Climbing to over 14,000′ on back to back days was challenging for sure, but the stimulus kick started the second half of my season.  I didn’t get good results but the experience was extraordinary.  The next month I had more grueling racing at the Everest Challenge, once again without the results I had been expecting.  But I kept working and by September the form rolled around, and we won the State Team Time Trial.  The next weekend I won the Individual Time Trial.  And two weeks after that I we won the State Hill Climb up Mt. Graham.  What ended up being my best season started out with checking in and getting some good feedback so I knew what kind of work I had to do to reach my objectives.

This year I am putting my work in in advance.  I know one thing for sure, I am looking forward to going to the races and Gran Fondos and seeing everyone.  At Pikes Peak no matter who you are at some point in the ride your goal is going to be singular and the same, to get to the top.  A big thanks to the promoters and USA Cycling and Colorado Springs for giving us this challenge.

flat lake reflection

About this photo:  Mai and I were south of Albuquerque yesterday observing Sandhill Cranes and we caught this sunset.  To our surprise there are still thousands of Cranes here but soon they’ll be leaving for the Platte River to fatten up on Nebraska corn.  A bicycle ride through a beautiful landscape, especially on a mountain road or trail, will give you a glimpse of the light in your heart, just like this lake shows the sky reflected atop a sheet of water on the broad earth.

 

Delicious Piñon Day

Saturday’s ride turned out to be an absolute gem.  I started out late and missed the group ride, but that turned out to work in my favor.  I took it slow and instead of feeling rushed I was enjoying being in the flow.  I was in a timefree zone all day.  Coming down Tramway I saw this balloon land.  And then on 313 north to Bernalillo I passed about 35-40 riders, a meet up group called the “cycling peeps.”  Mai discovered them online the other day.  They are an all women group with about 300 members.  No website, no complicated clubs, just an online meet up network dedicated to connecting for a common interest, bicycling beautiful New Mexico.

early morning shadow

E Mtn Sign

ABQ peeps

The day was glorious.  High sixties, light breezes, and a crystalline sky.  The warming air coupled with moist soil draws out the fragrances of the biosphere.  Normally a day this warm would be alarming for the evaporation rate but the USDA says the snowpack is above normal.   Just a good day to relax and enjoy.  I decided to take the long route to San Felipe, then east.

crazy road

Cliff hugger

La Madera long view

Days like this epitomize why I love cycling in the Southwest.  I saw a youth soccer game on a field in San Felipe.  I looked for the herd of wild horses on the Hagan road but they must have been higher in the mountains today.  And after doing the nice loop around the Sandia mountains I climbed the Crest highway a little.  I went to mile nine.  When I turned around I could see clear to the snow covered mountains that rise above the sagebrush plains of Taos.  Great day.

dip in the road

William's road

bajada

Here’s the map from Strava:  https://www.strava.com/activities/492845078/embed/af925c6e552eb7159ff033943b5ff145360e654c

Strava Connects Athletes with Planners

Strava technology blows my mind.  Strava has united what I’ve always done, bicycling, with my current project in long range transportation planning, design and education.  I’ve always thought the best way to advocate for bicycling is to do it.  I’m good at that.  With Strava, a free application that tracks your movement with GPS from a device as simple as your current cell phone, our riding becomes visible to planners and elected officials.  It literally makes your riding count and show up as evidence on how much and where people are bicycling.

If you’re riding and you’re not on Strava, please sign up for Strava for free.

La Luz piñon

This makes a huge difference.  Metro Planning Organizations have been counting cars since the 1970’s, but systematic counts for pedestrians and bicyclists have not been programmed as well.  So the lack of statistical “evidence” that people are walking and bicycling has been detrimental to justifying the allocation of funds for making improvements.  Strava says “nearly one-half of all rides on Strava in denser metro areas are commutes so Strava Metro data gives great insight into the needs of those riding for transportation.”  Strava is doing us all kinds of favors, including breaking down false divides between people that bike for health (“sport”) and for those that bike for transportation (“utility”).  People bike for all reasons, just like we use cars.

Winter ride

Aside from the social networking you can do with Strava, such as tracking your friends’ rides, and taking pictures and uploading them to rides (the photos on this blog post are from my rides on Strava), you are serving a greater purpose too by making your riding more visible and making it part of a big data set.  Strava is my bike org. of the month for December 2015.

S14 descending

Sign up for Strava:  http://www.strava.com/how-it-works
Follow me on Strava:  https://www.strava.com/athletes/1817826

References:
http://metro.strava.com/faq/
http://metro.strava.com/
http://labs.strava.com/heatmap/#6/-120.90000/38.36000/blue/bike

from Strava Metro

Strava Metro is a data service providing “ground truth” on where people ride and run. Millions of GPS-tracked activities are uploaded to Strava every week from around the globe. In denser metro areas, nearly one-half of these are commutes. These activities create billions of data points that, when aggregated, enable deep analysis and understanding of real-world cycling and pedestrian route preferences.”

Here’s a little heat map screen print from our bicycle rides in Albuquerque:

Strava Heat ABQ 2016

The Ozark Hill Country of NW Arkansas

While at Grandma’s in Arkansas I took a road ride from her house up in the Ozark Hills.  She lives in Bella Vista, a town with a rural feel set in the hickory and oak highlands above Sugar Creek.  The day before her birthday Grandma made us sloppy joe sandwiches for lunch.  When early afternoon rolled around and people took a siesta or read to relax and rejuvenate, I took a bike ride.  This sweet land could not look any better than it does from the saddle of a bicycle.

ARK Bella Vista road ride

ARK horses

Horses in pastures watched me spool by.  I greeted them and talked to them.  The country roads circle the hills and dive down into the hollows, flowing with the contours of the land.

ark hungry

ARK ride

My bike rides usually start out with a question.  Sometimes it is how am I feeling today?  I find out more about this when I pedal a bicycle.  Other times it is what can I discover today?  This sets the stage for adventure, no matter how small it is.  Daily adventures keep us enlivened.

ARK country

ARK Bella Vista ride

ark curve

Though I liked the rides I took on the multiuse trails of Oklahoma City and Fayetteville during this trip, my favorite ride was this one on these country roads of NW Arkansas.  I love being in the working landscape and seeing the way human activity fits together with the fabric of the countryside.  The horses, the farms, the active living born from the habits of daily routine.  I am grateful my grandparents decided to retire here from North Dakota.  Over the last 30 years, they have introduced several generations of their family to the beauties of Northwest Arkansas.

ARK slow rollin

ARK Bella Vista country lane

ARK all the pretty horses

I admire the dramatic landscapes of the West, the oceanic high altitude skies, incredible mountains and vast open spaces.  But this trip to Arkansas cured me of any doubt.  This whole country is absolutely gorgeous.  The variety and diversity tucked into this small corner of Arkansas is enormous.  Travel experiences release us from convention, including our own tendencies to think that love is exclusive and small.  Love is expansive and love conquers all.
ARK crosshatched landscape

ARK bike the natural state

Awakening to Albuquerque’s Local Character

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.

Hay and bike

East Mountain horses

Purple Aster butterfly on

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.

Tijeras Fall

Purple aster greens and rocks

Route 66 new pavement

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.

chili hearth

Los Ranchos Fruit Basket chilis

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.

The Lensic

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.

References:

Leopold, Aldo.  A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There, Special Commemorative Edition .  Quote from the forward, page viii.

A Towering Blue at Chaco

The photos from the last Chaco Canyon post were from my cell phone.  The photos in this post are from Mai’s Nikon camera.  The Nikon images are better, but the landscape essence always comes through.  Chaco is a sensuous yet austere location.  The sky is so deep and the land is elevated right up into it.  The atmosphere is thin, bright and lucid.  Chaco feels centered in the Universe.  There are very few humans there yet it is not lonely.   The built environment is a book written on the land.  The only legacy we left at Chaco Canyon were footprints in the sand, and ash in the fire ring.  Our time there was quiet, a whisper to eternity, like a light breeze.

monument

spilling up and running down

I appreciate more the way time spent in a landscape can work on you.  It was a subtle thrill being in Chaco Canyon for three days and two nights.  Living outdoors in the vivid morning light, long summer day, and under evening skies soothed us.  Magnificence is out in the open at Chaco Canyon, on every surface.  Cherishing being present and paying attention sharpens life.

star spangled flowers

horses show

stone colors

One of the mysteries harkening forth at Chaco is what is means to develop a sustainable society.  It is apparent at Chaco that we are a part of nature and the forms and monuments we make are made up of this raw material and return to it, just like we do.  If we combine the analytical tools we have with history, writing, science, and add multicultural perspectives with the values of thinking seven generations ahead and beyond, you realize we can accomplish a lot now that future generations will be grateful for.  We have explored to the ends of the earth and we solidly understand this is our one and only home.  At Chaco home feels good.

overview

a tall glass of blue

overhead

Chaco speaks to universal human values beyond short term economic boom and bust cycles.  The oil and gas industry in the San Juan Basin has created a sprawling industrial infrastructure web across the plateau landscape.  This energy won’t last long, but the remediation legacy will, and permanent changes are happening in the atmosphere, on the surface, and below ground.  The precious fossil energy fuels our journey.  But what is our vision for where we are going with this development.  The lesson of taking care of the landscape that takes care of us is a principle that guides us.  Sustainable development is a creative, forward looking, purposeful work.

ball yard

edges

ruins and cliff

light as air

With the Antiquities Act of 1906 we increased our valuation of this Chacoan heritage.  The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recognizes Chaco as a world heritage site.  One notable aspect is much of the building and infrastructure such as roads appear to have aesthetic values above all else.  Their major function was to serve as a cultural center and to express and direct a world view.  These sophisticated elements of society imbue our lives with meaning and gratification beyond basic necessities.  Chaco tells stories of human beings reaching out to make sense of our works on this earth.  Chaco is a great place to ride your bike, walk around, look, think and listen.  Absorb the place.  Stay awhile.

Awakening to Beauty

Bicycling New Mexico has awakened a vivid sense of beauty in me.  What I first saw quickly flowing by from my truck window in 1996 I am now getting to know in intimate detail.   The little things all around us in everyday ordinary life are actually extraordinary.  New Mexico is the most beautiful vernacular landscape, inhabited by the most beautiful people, I’ve ever seen.  These photographs are from recent bicycle rides beginning from my home in Albuquerque.

I live here

 Stopping to photograph these oxidized rocks on the way up the Sandia Crest,  I appreciated them more

This tree lives near 10,000 feet above sea level high up on the Sandia Crest

This tree lives near 10,000 feet above sea level high up on the Sandia Crest

When I turn onto Gutierrez Canyon road it is apparent I'm in a special place

When I turn onto Gutierrez Canyon road it is apparent I’m in a special place

tree bloom eruption

trees over land

August Light

The outdoor life in and around Albuquerque is exceptional.  One of the great amenities, a natural attractor, is the beautiful open space.  I’m amazed at the places that are within reach by bicycle from our home in Albuquerque.  Here are some cell phone pictures from recent rides.

road and sky

The Sandia Crest National Scenic Byway is a treasure. For sure one of the prettiest roads around.

A look across a sunflower field toward the Sandia Crest from Frost Road

A look across a sunflower field toward the Sandia Crest from Frost Road

NM 337 or "South 14" is like a ladder connecting the Tijeras Canyon corridor up to the high pines

NM 337 or “South 14” is like a ladder connecting the Tijeras Canyon corridor up to the high pines

We should conserve these spaces, nourishing the distinctive rural character with eco minded development.  Bicycling is a good way to enjoy this place in a sustainable, low impact and healthy fashion.  Open space for cycling and walking is essential to human life.

sunflower stance

take this road

Bicycling helps meet the Metropolitan Transportation Plan’s goal of generating more efficient use of the existing road infrastructure.  It’s part of the evolving transformation of a road ethic emphasizing clean, quiet, safe and satisfying transportation.  I see a lot of local residents out walking their dogs and getting exercise on the main roads in the rural East Mountains.   And I also see casual cyclists getting those bikes out of the garage and enjoying a ride on a country road.  These are indicators the ambiance and road ethic is safe and comfy for everyone.

Vallecitos Road

Vallecitos Road with Sandia Crest view, looking north, northwest

humble

S14 on a nice day

There’s an inextricable connection between walking and biking.  The Pro Walk Pro Bike Pro Place conference explains:  “Then we evolved because we found common cause with walking: streets that are unsafe for biking are also difficult to cross for pedestrians.”  This linkage is apparent on the roads of the East Mountains.  There are generally no sidewalks, but the walking and biking is good.  I’ve seen mothers pushing strollers and elderly people walking with canes along these roads.   Right now the walking and bicycling in the East Mountains is thriving, and we can enhance it by developing ride share, park and ride and rural transit service.   Traffic is moderate, mostly calm, diverse, and everyone shares space while looking out for one another in the August light.  It’s personable.  When I told my neighbor how much I liked August in New Mexico he said just wait until you see September.  It is even more beautiful, he said.

Here are some traffic counts on the East Mountain roads in rural Bernalillo County.  Many of the roads are quiet.  Quiet is one of the most valuable and rare resources around.