Sierra de la Norte

4 Nov

A snowy day in Whitehorse is the perfect time to finish looking through bikecation photos.  After playing in Colorado, Heidi hit the road and headed toward Santa Fe.   En route, we spent a night in Durango, a cute town, with a couple beautiful trails.  We decided on Hermosa, which because of time constraints was an out and back early in the morning.  I’d like to come back someday and check out the Colorado trail – maybe as a bikepacking adventure.

High Colorado


From our Durango pit stop, we headed to Santa Fe, land of red dirt and killer margaritas.   I was in town for a mountain biking conference, which meant I had plenty of sources to learn about the best trails.   On the first day of riding, I headed to the Dale Ball trails, which is a fun in-town trail system.  I found a kindred spirit in Kate, a local guide, who was as keen as me when it came to riding.  The planned, 1.5 hour group ride, became Kate and I, racing a setting sun after 3 hours of awesome single track.  My ride with Kate, also gave Heidi a rest.  After a whole season of 0 mountain bike rides, she’d been on 4 rides in 3 days and was feeling a bit tired.

My plan to use the bikecation to convince Heidi that mountain biking was where she should be focusing her fun times seemed to be succeeding.  In fact, I was pretty sure that I’d leave Heidi fully infected by the bike bug by the time I flew out of Santa Fe.  Our last ride, was supposed to be the whipping cream atop a glorious sundae of awesome rides.  Unfortunately, a combination of self-made mistakes and basic bad trail planning conspired against us.
Cold Windsor

Our ride was supposed to be a 20 km shuttle from 12,000 ft elevation into the downtown of Santa Fe, estimated time was 2 hours.   What did our ride end up being?  A 50 km shuttle from 12,000 ft to 9000 ft to 12,000 ft to 7000 ft to 8000 ft to… actual time was 7 hours.  How did things go so horribly awry?

Mistake #1 – When there is a group ride option, you should take it.  Being selfish, and avoiding the group ride because you don’t want to get stuck behind 150 other cyclists will equal karma kicking your ass. (my fault)

Mistake #2 – When you are marking a trail use the same trail names, the same maps and the same markings.  Our misadventure started because the first trailhead sign said Winsor Trail (which was our planned adventure), and the second trailhead gave directions for 150 and 162.  Apparently, we were supposed to know what number corresponded with each trail name.  Because we didn’t, we ended up 3000 ft and 8 km down the wrong trail.    Three hours into the ride, we actually started down the correct trail, but once again found that the trailheads didn’t correspond with our map.  Even worse, was that every trailhead  map we got to had a different set of trail names.  We thought we were saved when we ran into some hikers who also had a map, but instead of making it easier, it just added a third set of trail names into the already confusing batch.  With food and water running out, we finally got another set of cyclists to direct us to the road – not my favorite way of ending a shuttle, but at least it meant we didn’t die, lost in the forest.

Mistake #3 – When trying to convince your sister she should love bike riding, don’t get her lost without food or water – it might tarnish the experience.

In the end, Heidi and I made it back to Santa Fe, and I’m guessing that I didn’t completely destroy her feelings about mountain biking, as I’ve heard she’s back in Fruita this weekend.