Over these last few years, cycling and camping have become complimentary components of a life rhythm that resonates strongly for me. I find the process of pitching camp and retreating to my sleeping bag the most harmonious, satisfying closure to the day – a perfect culmination to a long stint in the saddle.
But I also love camping locally (almost) as much as I do further afield – particularly for a deeper sense of appreciation of my local environment, and place within it. Recently, I’ve been enjoying a spate of short but satisfying S240s – Sub 24 hour Overnighters, an initialism coined by Grant Peterson, of Rivendell fame. Micro Adventure is another name for a similar idea; that one comes courtesy of round-the-world rider and writer Al Humphreys.
With the arrival of spring comes the urge to spend more time under tarp, or better still, the night sky. Making this fit within the jigsaw of other commitments is the challenge – hence the appeal of these simple, soul replenishing overnighters…
The Great Outdoors makes a great changing room too, as demonstrated by Jeremy, seen here with a Rivendell Hunquapillar and Ford F100.
Hitting dirt is always a good feeling, especially on an afternoon like this. It’s tops off weather, at least for Jeremy, he of the ‘short shorts’ in winter fame… 12 miles from downtown Santa Fe, Glorietta Mesa is an open expanse of National Forest and BLM land, a web of backroads rife with red dirt potential…
Aside from his passion for cycling, this particular piece of inkwork celebrates Jeremy’s love of train-hopping.
Eager to make the most of the afternoon, we set off at a good clip, an imaginary loop loaded into the Garmin and iPhone.
It’s perfect riding: rough and rutted four wheel drive tracks abound.
New Mexico, never short of drama. After all, this is big sky country.
Occasionally, hostile barriers do their best to divert us…
It’s that time of day.
Our forest service map – as well as Garmin, Gaia and Googlemaps – indicate, in no uncertain terms, that there’s a road… right here…
An alternative route is found, though it means backtracking a few miles from where we’ve just come.
And as the sun sets, a suitable sleep spot is decided upon.
Carefully, given the dry conditions, we make a small fire – and toast a few rounds of tortillas, which we fill with avocado and beans. Simple, sustaining food.
New Mexican Overnight food pack list (afternoon snacks, dinner and breakfast):
3 x avocados
Dehydrated bean mix
Bag of nacho chips
Peanuts with lime
Mango, apple and banana
De la Rosa mazapan
4l of water
Camp (roll mats, a bivy bag and a tarp) are quickly dismantled for an early start the next day.
En route back to Santa Fe, we make a brief stop at Cafe Fina, and in the absence of fresh cinnamon rolls, I indulge in a lemon and poppyseed muffin…
Then, it’s a quick spin along the Rail Trail back into town. Overgrown but still functioning, it’s a historic route between Santa Fe and Lamy, that is now only served by a 1920s tourist train. If the area looks familiar, it might be that you’ve seen it in the remake of Elmore Leonard’s 3:10 to Yuma, or in Young Guns, the Hollywoodised story of Billy the Kid.
A singletrack for a good proportion of the way, it crosses dry, sandy gulches, as it winds its way through desert sagebrush and chamisas.
By 9.45am, we’re back in Santa Fe and headed to our various commitments…
S240s are affordable, easy to organise and above all, invigorating. They come highly recommended. I’m aiming for at least a night like this a week..
Gear: Jeremy went the basket/saddlebag route on his Hunqapillar, and I opted for my Porcelain Rocket framebags on the Ogre. Both worked well!
Camera: Canon 5dMk2 with 40mm f/2.8 lens. The aim here was to keep things light and simple with one pancake lens. The full set is on my Flickr page.
Looks like a fantastic ride. Your posts inspire me to head out into the bush for a bikepacking or cycle touring weekend. Have shared on my Twitter feed.
Thanks! A night under the stars does wonders for the soul.
Hey Cass…I spent Friday night at the Opening of Bespoked in Bristol. Lots of lovely stuff there…Ricky Feather won the overall Best Bike prize. There were a couple of Bikepacking machines there (one particularly nice one from Oak Cycles). if you Google it I’m sure you’ll find it. Thinking that may be the next bike for me…or maybe the Shand Cyclocross/29er.
There was also a fantastic Cargo bike there from Titchmarsh. Rob did a great job on the best in show ‘trophy’.
Hope you’re well.
Thanks for that, sounds like a great show. I will do some internet sifting…
Great photos; looks like a beautiful area. This has inspired me to get out and do some more overnight trips on my bike. So far I’ve only done one, and we slept in a cabin.
Cabins are good too (-: There was a public access one in Montana, on the Great Divide, that I always regretted not lingering at for the night…
Looks like a nice trip! Just got back from leading a bit of a longer overnight. Oh yeah, ours was a lot wetter and colder than what you did, there was no “shirts optional” part, more like “time to put the rain jacket back on”.
Being from the UK, I’m no stranger to the on/off rainjacket and trousers carousel. I feel spoilt here in New Mexico, precipitation wise. At this time of year, a few flecks of rain is about as much as you can expect. If you’re unlucky…
When it does rain though, in the monsoon season, the dirt turns quickly to unbreachable quagmire. Then I’m not so smug…
Cass, when is monsoon season? I’d love to see some of the washes raging with water, as long as I’m not biking in them! I wonder if the ‘quagmire’ could be tamed by a Fatbike?
I think the monsoon season tends to be in late summer. Unfortunately, I don’t think the dirt roads could even be conquered by fatbikes.The dirt becomes super tacky (hence adobe houses) and clings to everything. A bike soon weighs twice as much as normal – no joke! It can’t even be pushed…
Thinking about it, a fat bike with a Rohloff, discs and ‘skinny’ 29er wheels would be the best mode of attack, allowing for massive clearances and a robust drivetrain. But even then, I wouldn’t recommend it!
This post is from a bit later in the year, after a relatively short blast of rain:
Cass, Keep posting these rides. They are inspiring to plan on some of the same when spring returns here. It would be great for me, physically and mentally to S24O once each week this summer.
Good timing on this post as I stare out my office window at 14″ of the white stuff with more coming down. Out on a bike in the woods seems a way off right now.
I would agree with Jim, please continue to post reports and photograph your rides as they are truly inspiring. What I have also enjoyed is some of your interweaving of family topics which have been supremely helpful as we too have a little one.
Unfortunately my cubical lacks the common amenities such as windows so your photos nourish the soul and help me plan for a summer camping trip on our new cargo bike with the family and of course a few S24O’s mixed in for good measure.
Keep up the great work.
Inspiring and motivating as always, Cass. I gotta get out there. Looks really inviting.