Over these last few years, cycling and camping have become complimentary components of a life rhythm that resonates strongly for me. I find the process of pitching camp and retreating to my sleeping bag the most harmonious, satisfying closure to the day – a perfect culmination to a long stint in the saddle.
But I also love camping locally (almost) as much as I do further afield – particularly for a deeper sense of appreciation of my local environment, and place within it. Recently, I’ve been enjoying a spate of short but satisfying S240s – Sub 24 hour Overnighters, an initialism coined by Grant Peterson, of Rivendell fame. Micro Adventure is another name for a similar idea; that one comes courtesy of round-the-world rider and writer Al Humphreys.
With the arrival of spring comes the urge to spend more time under tarp, or better still, the night sky. Making this fit within the jigsaw of other commitments is the challenge – hence the appeal of these simple, soul replenishing overnighters…
The Great Outdoors makes a great changing room too, as demonstrated by Jeremy, seen here with a Rivendell Hunquapillar and Ford F100.
Hitting dirt is always a good feeling, especially on an afternoon like this. It’s tops off weather, at least for Jeremy, he of the ‘short shorts’ in winter fame… 12 miles from downtown Santa Fe, Glorietta Mesa is an open expanse of National Forest and BLM land, a web of backroads rife with red dirt potential…
Aside from his passion for cycling, this particular piece of inkwork celebrates Jeremy’s love of train-hopping.
Eager to make the most of the afternoon, we set off at a good clip, an imaginary loop loaded into the Garmin and iPhone.
It’s perfect riding: rough and rutted four wheel drive tracks abound.
New Mexico, never short of drama. After all, this is big sky country.
Occasionally, hostile barriers do their best to divert us…
It’s that time of day.
Our forest service map – as well as Garmin, Gaia and Googlemaps – indicate, in no uncertain terms, that there’s a road… right here…
An alternative route is found, though it means backtracking a few miles from where we’ve just come.
And as the sun sets, a suitable sleep spot is decided upon.
Carefully, given the dry conditions, we make a small fire – and toast a few rounds of tortillas, which we fill with avocado and beans. Simple, sustaining food.
New Mexican Overnight food pack list (afternoon snacks, dinner and breakfast):
3 x avocados
Dehydrated bean mix
Bag of nacho chips
Peanuts with lime
Mango, apple and banana
De la Rosa mazapan
4l of water
Camp (roll mats, a bivy bag and a tarp) are quickly dismantled for an early start the next day.
En route back to Santa Fe, we make a brief stop at Cafe Fina, and in the absence of fresh cinnamon rolls, I indulge in a lemon and poppyseed muffin…
Then, it’s a quick spin along the Rail Trail back into town. Overgrown but still functioning, it’s a historic route between Santa Fe and Lamy, that is now only served by a 1920s tourist train. If the area looks familiar, it might be that you’ve seen it in the remake of Elmore Leonard’s 3:10 to Yuma, or in Young Guns, the Hollywoodised story of Billy the Kid.
A singletrack for a good proportion of the way, it crosses dry, sandy gulches, as it winds its way through desert sagebrush and chamisas.
By 9.45am, we’re back in Santa Fe and headed to our various commitments…
S240s are affordable, easy to organise and above all, invigorating. They come highly recommended. I’m aiming for at least a night like this a week..
Gear: Jeremy went the basket/saddlebag route on his Hunqapillar, and I opted for my Porcelain Rocket framebags on the Ogre. Both worked well!
Camera: Canon 5dMk2 with 40mm f/2.8 lens. The aim here was to keep things light and simple with one pancake lens. The full set is on my Flickr page.