Spring is in the air: a night out in Santa Fe

Spring is in the air.

Although the sun’s rays have yet to permeate the northern folds of the mountains, where pockets of snow linger on, the mid elevation trails are revealing themselves like hidden gems.

And with winter’s retreat, comes untold scope for overnight escapes…

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Even the most diminutive of bike tours earns a guilt-free, culinary perk. The Kakawa Chocolate House specialises in all things chocolaty, and happens to be on the way out of town...

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From the vast array of exotic elixirs to sample, we shared a 'Marie Antoinette' - a heady blend of chocolate, almond milk, orange blossom water, Ceylon cinnamon, Mexican vanilla and orange blossom essential oil. 6 precious oz of hot chocolate for $6; so thick you can almost stand your spoon in it. That's Santa Fe chic.. and Santa Fe prices.

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Our ride took us out via the Dale Ball trail network, the spiderweb of singletrack that begins just a few miles from downtown.

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After working our way up amongst the piñons and cacti, we picked up the infamously steep, precipitous Chamisa Trail, teetering on the edge of the mountainside in the Santa Fe National Forest. With the trailer in tow, I made it a fair way before running out of steam.

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Once over the saddle, a steep, gullied descent plummeted us back down, opening out into a peaceful meadow surrounded by sentinel Ponderosas. Perfect camping conditions: it came complete with babbling brook and dappled afternoon light.

Ponderosas - characterised by their cinnamon-red bark and black crevasses.

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The face of concentration: Nancy studies for her acupuncture finals. The next day...

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Clouds and thunderstorms hovered overhead, but thankfully their threats proved empty.

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We'd resisted the pre-packed delights of Trader Joe's, and chosen instead to opt for simple camping fare. Quinoa and millet are high in protein and slow to burn - ideal cycling fodder. Millet is alkaline forming, which helps balance out a predominantly acidic modern diet.

Quick recipe:

  • Chop up zucchini, garlic, onion.
  • Add bouillon, salt and water.
  • Cook for a bit.
  • Then add tuna and tomatoes towards the end.
  • Squeeze in some lemon.
  • Enjoy.
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My faithful X-mini 2 speaker, ingrained with dust and dirt, yet still going strong after many miles of travel. A This American Life podcast provided the evening's entertainment.

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Beginning the descent on the Windsor Trail the next morning, amongst pines, aspens and willows.

THe trail dived into the half-light of Tesuque Creek. This dark, fairy tale-like tunnel winds its way down along a bed of pine needles, over rocks, through rutted gullies...

And through one creek crossing after another - 17 of them in all. The trail reminded me of my old riding haunt in the UK, the Quantocks.

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Spring is in the air: cherry blossoms along the trail.

A traditional coyote fence, often seen in South West. These fences are traditionally made from dead aspen poles, and first used by Native Americans and early Spanish settlers for protecting livestock from wild animals, and marauding bands of desperados. This particular example surrounded a plush property in Tesuque...

The rig: I hooked up the Ogre with Tout Terrain's single wheel trailer, the Mule, providing ample capacity to carry all our kit. Despite the extra weight, I like the simplicity of biking with a trailer in these situations - it's easy to throw everything in, and just go.

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Knowing the conditions ahead, I'd jacked up the Mule to its highest suspension setting, providing 160mm of air sprung travel. Although this decreases stability, the chromo cage clears rocks and logs effortlessly.

Tout Terrain Mule Mini Review:

  • Easy to pack
  • Integrated stand is really useful
  • Seat post mounted hitch and 20in wheel offers a very stable ride off road
  • Tight turning circle
  • Really nicely made, with great attention to detail

but…

  • Very expensive (549-669 Euros)
  • Cuts corners on singletrack and through tight traffic
  • Heavy (7.3kg with stand) and longer than wheel-axle mounted trailers.
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Food and drink: bookends to any good ride. Refuelling at the Slurp Airstream back in Santa Fe.

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