The way we treat the environment and the way we treat each other are intricately connected. —Jonathan P. Thompson, “We are the environmental movement”, Colorado Sierra Club blog
I’ve reached a couple milestones recently. This is my 365th blog post on bike yogi. For some reason, this has been a number I’ve had in my head as a goal since I started this blog in 2014 to write about cycling. I also was trained as a cycling instructor this past Spring by the League of American Bicyclists. I’ve wanted to do that for years! And on Sunday June 17th, I connected two great cities, Albuquerque and Santa Fe, with a bicycle ride along the Turquoise Trail, through Santa Fe, and on up Hyde Park Road into the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.
I woke up early on Sunday to begin my ride by 7:15am so I could meet my wife in Santa Fe at Fort Marcy Park for a picnic at noon. Although June is an extremely hot and dry month historically in the Southwest U.S., the previous day we received a steady rain and the landscape was still wet and fragrant. Lingering clouds dropped some showers in spots as I rode. It felt so good to pedal and circulate that oxygenated blood all around my body, and at the same time watch that vital ingredient in the chemistry of life–WATER–flow from sky to the waiting earth.
The atmosphere above, the ocean below–it’s one big system. –Sylvia Earle, “Sunken Treastures”
Spooling down the Turquoise Trail National Scenic Byway on a bicycle is a little bit like sailing on an inverted ocean, the clouds roiling in the sky with a fluid, wave-like motion. I feel the beauty inside of me. We already see the roads as an artifact of our culture, and a way into the culture, history and traditions of the land around us. In Georgia, there is a pilot project on highway to farm the roadside and make it more ecologically productive. As part of this project rethinking what a highway can be, Georgia is building bioswales to clean the water runoff, growing wheatgrass to sequester carbon, and experimenting with asphalts to make it quieter. This sounds exciting, but right now by cycling I already feel the way this road is improving my health, today! Why do for people what people can do for themselves? Cycling is an economic engine.
The infrastructure is the landscape. –Jonathan Thompson, “River of Lost Souls”
In Santa Fe I took the most direct way through town, and started climbing up Hyde Park Road. Due to the high fire danger most of the recreational facilities from the road are closed, so there is very little traffic, and more than half of that traffic are bicyclists. It’s so quiet I am spooked when I here twigs breaking in the forest next to me. I look to my right towards the sound’s source and there are two deer running up an embankment. They were enjoying the quiet too. After I climb “the wall”, the steep two mile pitch through the State Park, I turn around to be on time for my picnic date with my wife. It’s delightful. After lunch we stroll through town. In the Plaza in the center of town where the streets are closed to motorized traffic, all I can hear is a chorus of human voices. It’s like a hundred conversations happening all at once, something like a symphony of voices. A beautiful sound. The fabric of community. We stumble upon a free concert by the Santa Fe Concert Band in front of the Court House. We lay on the grass and listen to the songs roll–Arioso, Black Horse Troop, A Touch of Carmen, The Phantom of the Opera. We drive home to Albuquerque together, feeling restored, hoping more rain will come soon.
Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere. –Albert Einstein
References and Resources:
We are the environmental movement is an interview with writer Jonathan Thompson https://www.sierraclub.org/colorado/blog/2018/06/we-are-environmental-movement
Georgia DOT is farming the roadside: https://www.mnn.com/green-tech/transportation/blogs/georgia-highway-rightofway-farming-ray-anderson
Explore New Mexico’s Scenic Byways: http://dot.state.nm.us/content/nmdot/en/byways.html
The Sun Magazine’s feature interview each of the last five months has been incredibly inspiring:
Jonathan Thompson’s book River of Lost Souls is in part about converting our economy so what used to be sacrifice zones contribute more to human well-being and our sense of place. https://riveroflostsouls.com