El Huevito’s night out in New Mexico.

I admit to a near perpetual yearning for the next big trip; travel hopes and aspirations are forever poking and prodding into the more foreign nooks and crannies of my mind. But if truth be told, I’m often more than happy subsisting on shot-in-the-arm overnighters, especially if they’re en famille and better still, in New Mexico. A night under stars, or around a campfire with friends, or coddled in sleeping bags beneath tarp, can do true wonders for the soul.

This mid week dirt road excursion – just a stone’s lob from Santa Fe – was shared with Nancy, Sage and fellow bikepackers Tim, Rusty and John. It was short but distinctly sweet, and had me looking forward to more of the same come fall. After all, when far flung places are simply too far away, little beats digging in the dirt of your own backyard.

If you would like to keep up with where I am between tardy blog entries, I keep my While Out Riding Facebook page more regularly updated – along with posting extra photos and gear ponderings. Occasionally, I also post pictures on my Instagram feed. And if you haven’t overdosed by then, I’ve also started a While Out Riding Tumblr edition, focusing on images – many of which don’t make it onto the blog. 

5E1A5250

Sage and his Chariot, unofficially modified to offer him a panoramic vista, afforded by a standing position when we’re cycling along traffic-free roads.

5E1A5232

Nancy and her Troll. After the hodgepodge weather conditions of Ecuador’s rainy season, it’s good to feel the New Mexican sun on our backs again.

5E1A5309

Rusty and his Salsa Fargo. Its bright yellow finish secured it the accolade of being Sage’s favourite bike of the troupe.

5E1A5275

John prepares the evening’s fire, with a bundle of wood he’s hauled out in his BOB trailer.

5E1A5313

Santa Fe longterm resident and Tarot card reader extraordinaire, Minimalist Master Tim. Seen here sporting a look that only he could pull of: a ninja balaclava matched with his Jacks ‘R Better down poncho quilt.

5E1A5287-2

A most suitable home for the night.

5E1A5269

Rusty’s campfire tipple.

5E1A5293

And said campfire.

5E1A5355

Our Big Agnes Copper Spur UL3, pitched amongst the sagebrush, juniper, piñon and cowpats.

5E1A5330-3

At the ripe old age of 2.5, Sage is a dab hand at campcraft.

5E1A5364

An early morning start ensures John and his Surly LHT are back to town in time for work…

5E1A5407

… while Sage hones his climbing skills.

5E1A5304

Come dusk…

5E1A5440

… or dawn, I can never get enough of New Mexico’s dirt roads.

5E1A5469

Baked dry, they provide the perfect backdrop for Nancy to pop a few early morning yoga moves.

5E1A5484

Trikonasana.

5E1A5502

Spring is here, and with it comes open shirt riding weather.

5E1A5529

Then, it’s time to turn back for the 15 mile ride home. Distances are more limited with family rides, but no less satisfying.

5E1A5594

5E1A5638

5E1A5656

5E1A5704

Quick break for a stretch and a scratch in the earth for stink bugs.

5E1A5740

My Surly ECR, complete with a combination of Porcelain Rocket, Revelate and Carradice bike bags, teamed with a Velo Orange Porteur rack and Salsa Anything Cage HDs.

5E1A5764

5E1A5770

24 thoughts on “El Huevito’s night out in New Mexico.

  1. Geron

    Hi Cass:

    I am an avid Santa Fe cyclist. I’d love to know what road you were on. Do you mind revealing your secrets? I”m interested in bikepacking, and would love to start in a place like that, close to home.

    Thanks,
    Geron

    Reply
    1. Cass Gilbert Post author

      Geron,

      It wasn’t too far from Santa Fe. We rode pavement out to dirt at 62 and onto 24. We’d planned to get a little further towards White Rock, and camp on an overlook with views of the Rio Grande. But in the end, a late departure and Sage-pace meant we just made it an hour or so down the dirt road, where we found a nice spot towards dusk to pull over and camp.

      Reply
  2. Rick F

    Family trips are GREAT!
    Our boys are college age now and off on their own adventures. But we did a ton of exploring with them when they were younger. They’re only young once, make the best of it.

    Reply
  3. Brian McGloin

    I’m always happy to read about/see an adventure that isn’t in China or an exotic (to us) location on the trendy custom bike of the week.

    I squeeze in small adventures when I can (even if just the rock-strewn trail to class or the unpaved alleyways in my neighborhood in Austin). The semester is about to end, which gives me a fortnight to ride as many trails and dirt roads as possible, including an overnight to Pedernales State Park. And … moving to a new place … but other than that, bike riding and picture taking.

    I hope to do some riding and/or bikepacking in New Mexico soon. Thanks for illustrating that small trips and local adventures are just as good as longer tips.

    Reply
  4. MIchal

    HI Cass,
    we (Michal and Zuza) pedal from S America to Canada. Somos en Mexico ahora. We try to choose our new tent. It will be convenient to get something in the US but we cant sort out which one. Our friends have BA Copper Spur UL3 and we really liked it. we actually got same style tent now but old and not very well made. We really like the design, weight and workmanship quality of Copper Spur. The only think will we are worry about is the durability. The fabrics looks too light and fragile.
    We want to spend at least 3 months in the US, bike through Great Divide to Canada and go as much north as possible till end of Dec on Jan. We prefer wild camping rather then staying somewhere under the roof. Would you recommend this tent for such purpose? In other words, we rode recently pretty much the similar routes in South America and I am not sure if this tent would withstand all the conditions and daily using down there.
    What you think?
    Thanks Michal

    Reply
    1. Cass Gilbert Post author

      My time with the UL3 has been relatively limited, as we’ve just used it on family rides.

      I agree with you though – it’s very nicely made but very lightweight and a little flimsy for day in day out, extended use. After all, you can’t have everything – a UL tent and a burly build! For bike touring in the States, I’ve never needed anything more than a tarp, which is my preferred choice when I’m by myself – a ‘mid style tarp is light, spacious and can handle pretty much anything you throw at it. That would be the way I’d go, though it means sacrificing the freestanding designs of the BAs, which can be really useful.

      Reply
      1. michal

        Thanks.
        We prefer something with moskito net which is better for general use I guess (like in northern Canada). Self standing – really good feature as well. I try to search more and decide somehow. I also liked Double Rainbow but reviews are various. Something around 2kg would be good…
        Perhaps we try/ see something in the US and choose there…

        Reply
      2. michal

        Thanks.
        We prefer something with moskito net which is better for general use I guess (like in northern Canada). Self standing – really good feature as well. I try to search more and decide somehow. I also liked Double Rainbow but reviews are various. Something around 2kg would be good…
        Perhaps we try/ see something in the US and choose there…
        Cheers

        Reply
        1. Cass Gilbert Post author

          I’ve used the solo version of the Double Rainbow and really like it, perhaps one of my favourite fully enclosed tents. It’s lightweight though, so still needs to be handled with care.

          My Black Diamond Megalite has been modified to include a mosquito net skirt. The Megalite is a pretty old model; there are loads of better pyramid designs on the market now. Check out Bear Paw Wilderness Designs, 6 Moon Designs and Mountain Laurel Designs for some of the best of what’s available in the US. Bear in mind you might have to wait for the tarp to be made though.

          ‘Mids are general considered to be 4 season tarps, so definitely up to the rigours of the Divide. They’re good in wind and snow, and super spacious for the weight. Lots of height too. Tarps don’t trap heat as well as two skins. It’s never been a problem for me, as I tend to sleep warm.

          Colorado in autumn could be interesting!

          Reply
          1. MIchal

            Thanks – I appreciate your time and suggestions. I will check all the stuff. BTW what do you mean by ‘Mids’ in 3rd paragraph?

  5. Ben

    Hey,
    Just wanted to say I love this post and am pretty fixated on it. It is very encouraging and has me thinking less about my solo rides and how to get out with my family instead. Posts like this will be the catalyst I need to make it happen!
    Cheers
    Ben

    Reply
    1. Cass Gilbert Post author

      Thanks for the kind words Ben. It’s a very different kind of touring to solo outings, but just as rewarding. I definitely recommend making it happen!

      Reply
    1. Cass Gilbert Post author

      Michal,

      By Mids, I just mean the pyramid style tarps.

      Btw, there are all kind of mozzie-proof (like these: http://www.mountainlaureldesigns.com/shop/index.php?cPath=47). Bearpaw do a bunch too. They add weight and bulk – so much so that the complete weight becomes similar to a two skin tent. But it’s a modular system, so you can use them as and when you need them.

      I’d definitely say they tarps take more practise to pitch well than standard tents. But once you get the hang of them, they’re really quick. The feeling of space and height is hard to beat.

      Reply
  6. Federico Cabrera

    Hola Cass,

    I saw a few photos of your Krampus (at Ecuador) with Porcelain Rocket’s zipless framebag, Mr. Fusion, and micro panniers.
    I’m soon to be cycling the Amazon (BR-319) and I would like to know how this setup felt off-road and which rear rack were you using :)

    THANKS!
    Federico

    Reply
    1. Cass Gilbert Post author

      Hi Federico,

      The Krampus with a lightish, well distributed load felt really good – though I prefer the ECR for heavier burdens.

      A friend added rack mounts to be my frame, and I used a Tubus Vega, which I already owned. It’s a great rack – strong given its light weight. But it sits a little high on the Krampus, as the added braze ons we added had to clear the disc caliper, so the whole setup gets jacked up a bit.

      All the best for your trip!

      Reply
      1. Federico Cabrera

        Hola Cass,

        Thanks for your prompt response! I’m not going to ride Krampus/ECR but a Hayduke (27.5+ hardtail) and I’s interested in the light weight rack & micro-panniers combo… and not having a zipper to fail at the middle of the Amazon jungle makes a zipless framebag a pretty good option too :)

        Saludos,
        Federico

        Reply
        1. Cass Gilbert Post author

          Ah – I don’t know that bike. Looks awesome, though no eyelets either?

          I kept the weight in the micro panniers relatively light – mostly, they had bulky stuff like our sleeping bags (I only needed the panniers on our family rides, otherwise a standard setup allowed enough room for resupplies in Ecuador, which are easy to come by in the mountains). Food and the like went into the framebag.

          Reply
          1. Federico Cabrera

            Hola Cass,

            The production model will have eyelets :)
            I need the micro-panniers as I’ll be carrying a small photo studio (including a printer) and I’ll be needing a LOT of water above 90F (30 C) with 100% humidity.
            I’ll be carrying two 3L bladders at my frame bag (+ tripod & pump) and two Topeak XL cages at the fork. There’re very few places to resupply within the 600 miles and I want to stay away from the Amazon river (and the terrifying Candiru) as much as possible :)

            Saludos,
            Federico

          2. Cass Gilbert Post author

            Looking forward to following along with your project!

            The ‘plus’ size is the sweet spot for backcountry touring I think. Enjoy!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *