There’s been a spate of stiflingly hot days in Santa Fe. It was a 103°F (33°C) last week – which is saying something, considering the city lies at a lofty 7000ft (2100m) in altitude. Fires have closed down the Hemys, the Santa Fe National Forest and the Cibola.
Refreshingly, last weekend’s outing coincided with the arrival of a storm. Perhaps it’s even the beginning of the much-anticipated monsoon season, tempering the heat and helping to douse the many forest fires that have sparked up around the state.
In terms of bikepacking, the best place to head right now is north. Our original intention was to make full use of New Mexico’s surprisingly comprehensive (not to mention free and bike-friendly) public transport system. Catching the bus up to Chama, we’d planned to sew together a part of the Redneck Epic (part of the NM Endurance Series) to some Carson forest backroads, en route to Taos – connecting up with the weekend Taos Express ($5) which shuttles back and forwards to Santa Fe on the weekends. In the event, we’d overlooked a New Mexican timetable quirk, namely that the public bus doesn’t run on Friday (or Saturday, Sunday and Monday, for that matter). Stranded at Walmart in Española (a strange place to be, believe you me), we killed some time trawling thrift stores until it was time to catch the bus to El Rito, starting from there instead.
My last few rides have been limited to overnighters. Two days out lent the trip more of a sense of journey, especially given the variety of geography, from high pastures to desert plateaux, with hot springs of the Rio Grande thrown into the mix. The drama of a storm (enter stage left) provided the finishing brush strokes to some classic New Mexican scenery.
The Middle Way
Bike-wise, I’m back on the Ogre, set up with a rigid fork, discs brakes and the Rohloff/Rabbit Holes. As hoped, it proved an effective means to navigate the quagmire that befalls New Mexican backroads come the first drop of rain. As a related aside, this recent blog post is definitely worth a read. It encapsulates succinctly what I admire about Surly’s philosophy, and why I’m pleased to be riding one of their bikes.
PS Unfortunately, after two punctures in close succession, we missed the bus by a whisker. Thanks to Zach and Anne for picking us up on the side of the road outside Taos!
After exhaustive internet research, Jeremy’s invested in a new tarp: the Lair, by Bear Paw Wilderness Design – who same company who built the bathtub floor of my Black Diamond Megamid. From the looks of it, it’s a really nicely thought out design. Quick and easy to pitch, the front beak can be adjusted in height depending on the weather. There’s a silnylon version for a reasonable $129, and a cuben one for $215. Extras include perimeter bug netting and a hanging floor.
Camera: Canon 5dMk2 with 40mm f/2.8 lens.
Those are amazing skies!
Did you use any photoshop?
Although New Mexican skies are indeed amazing… I did run the pics through my usual tweaks in Lightroom. Namely, some extra contrast, a touch more blacks and clarity, a little less saturation and some vignetting.
On the 6th picture, I dragged down the gradient tool to accentuate the darkening sky – but believe me, it looked pretty cool already!
Are you taking a tarp or tent to Peru? I’d have thought a tarp might not be suitable for the lower lying terrain. Any thoughts?
That’s one I’m mulling over. I have a Tarptent Moment and a Black Diamond Megalite at my disposal. The Megalite is cavernous, and I love sleeping in it. But the footprint is huge for one person. The Tarptent is freestanding, which is cool, and a good ‘inbetween’ – a single skin tent that’s fully enclosed. Good for critters and bugs. It’s light too, at under 1kg complete, but not so easy to pack, as some of the poles are integrated. I’m sorely tempted by a silnylon version of the Lair for $129. It opens up a whole new realm of travelling light – but I’ll probably end up with what I already own.
I’ve spent some time in Espanola, and yes I agree, not a nice place. In all my travels, Espanola is the only place where I have found milk curdled, spoiled, and overflowing on the shelves as well as moldy bread in the local supermarket. But it is the low-rider capital of the US!
Where exactly is this truck trail?
Near El Rito. It’s marked as such on the National Forest map for the area, from what I remember.
Hey Cass, I would love to bounce gear ideas off of you.
If you can hit me back on my attached email!