Returning to New Mexico has given me the chance to ride a couple of trails I heard about, but didn’t have time to explore before. Numero Uno on my wishlist was a classic local desert loop known as White Mesa, set in a bizarre, lunar-like landscape. It’s so named for the colour of the gypsum residue that reflects the sun in this mineral-rich, parched-dry area.
The trail is well marked, and there are various permutations to shrink or extend the ride. Our trip was a little forshortened when Nancy took a nasty, helmet-cracking, wheel-tacoing spill. Luckily, she lives to ride another day.
The trailhead is about 35 miles from Albuquerque, the last few of which are along a dusty dirt road off Highway 550. We drove out with a posse of riders, including Dallas, Amy, Woody, Mike and Bobbie. Although the loop itself is pretty short, you could use public transport and make a weekend of it, hopping on the Railrunner from Santa Fe ($6), or Albuquerque, and getting of in Bernalillo. This links up with the Bernalillo-Cuba shuttle bus ($2, inc bike), stopping off in the Zia Pueblo and San Ysidro Village, which is a couple of miles from the turnoff. Incidentally, I’m a big fan of the Railrunner, the train that runs between ABQ and Santa Fe. Although the timetable is a little restrictive – it’s aimed at commuters – it’s cheap, bike-friendly, and has free wifi!
As far as I’ve experienced, White Mesa is completely different from anything else in the area; it’s as unique as Utah, and definitely somewhere I’d like to explore further. There’s plenty more scope closer to ABQ, with bike lanes around town, and the local Foothills trail network within riding distance – not to mention some great road riding potential too. Plenty of route info can be found at Two Wheel Drive.
Thanks to the posse for their hospitality and for showing us around, particularly Dallas for prepping our bikes in his incredible, spick ‘n span workshop!