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.