September 2, 2023

NM: Tres Piedras

 Again, we took a lunch break on day 2 before heading down the canyon to Tres Piedras. Three Rocks in Spanish. Scott had ridden here before and noted the cool rock formations and slickrock riding. We staged from the Ranger station and while there seem to be a network of official looking trails, I didn't find any trail maps of the area. So we pretty much winged it based on what Scott could remember from years ago.

The trail begins next to the Ranger Station, goes through two gates then meanders through the forest.

We found some cool, smaller rocks to play on almost instantly. Photo by Scott.

Mostly flatish and fast.
The trail wound around and took us out to the paved US64. Scott had recalled a loop being on the other side of the pavement, but it didn't sound like it was the rock riding we were searching for. We flipped around and rode towards the larger rock piles hoping to jog Scott's memory.

That's better.

My turn. Photo by Scott.

Scott taking the high line around.

Short steep grunt & turn around. Photo by Scott.

Making the tight turn. Photo by Scott.

First, we tried going the high route between the rocks. Photo by Scott.

It cliffed out, so ride back down!! Photo by Scott.

Weeeeee!! Photo by Scott.

I think our bikes will fit. Photo by Scott.

Yep, keep pushing. Photo by Scott.

Something tells me this is turning into a #locoride. Photo by Scott.
The notch did punch through and we were rewarded handsomely for our efforts.

Scott silhouetted before dropping in.

The exit was a little tricky if you didn't line it up quite right. Scott nailed it.

Hopefully no 2x4's are being made from these trees!!

The lower runout.

My turn for the postcard shot. Photo by Scott.

The rock had superb grip. Photo by Scott.

My dropper post was in for a warranty repair, so I couldn't fully tuck. Photo by Scott.

Add a little spice to the route.

The payoff for a short bushwhack. Photo by Scott.

Huge slab of slickrock on this side of the Rock. Photo by Scott.

A multitude of downhill lines here.

Some steep, sticky climbing too.

We also timed it right for Golden Hour.

Fun climbing lines crisscrossed the area. Photo by Scott.

My turn to give the big climb a go. Photo by Scott.

You can get really creative with your line choice at a place like this. Fun!! Photo by Scott.

Max power!! Photo by Scott.
The shadows were growing long and neither of us brought lights, so we made the wise decision to start heading back. But we had to figure that part out since we weren't going back the way we came. A fun descent and a little poking around and we spotted some flagging more or less marking a trail. We followed it around and sure enough it led us in the direction we needed to go. We got spit out on US64 a little way up the road from the Ranger Station, so it was an easy coast to the daylight!!

Great place to stage the ride from.

Fancy station for a tiny remote town.
We were both really glad we snuck this ride in. It sure wasn't a bunch of miles, but the fun factor was pegged. That's what it's really about, right? I mentioned to Scott while up on the rocks that it was good to be alive, indeed it was.


September 1, 2023

NM: Hopewell Lake CDT

 After our Big Tree trail ride, we had some lunch and chilled for a bit. Then it was time to ride again. This time we drove a few miles up the road to Hopewell Lake. It's a popular water stop along the Tour Divide. However, Scott and I were going to check out the Continental Divide Trail, CDT, that goes south from the lake. Another one of my warm-up rides for the weekend.

Lunchtime!! Photo by Scott.
Being a holiday weekend there were lots of big groups of trailers camping off the dirt roads. We found our CDT turnoff as we passed through the camping compound. The trail was immediately quiet as we wound through the aspens. Ahhh.
Scott cruising through an open meadow.

Nearing our turnaround point about 5 miles south of Hopewell Lake.

For such a long trail, the CDT seems to have good signage.

Back in the trees on great trail.

This section of CDT parallels the current Tour Divide route. It's sections of great trail like this that make you wonder why the TD doesn't use it. Perhaps change is coming.

Our return ride was slightly uphill, but you almost didn't notice.

A good chunk of this ride was above 10,000'. I hadn't been pedaling that high in a while and it felt surprisingly good.

Making our way down to Hopewell Lake.

Blinded by the light on occasion.

A few fishermen were out wrapping up their day. The water pump at the lake was non-functional.

We rode the trail out to US64 on the far side of the lake.

Quite the scene as we finished. Over 30 large circling birds, slowly fanning out. It was mesmerizing.
I was surprised how great the trail was, not sure what I was expecting, perhaps more hike-a-bike?? A great cap to the first full day of riding.


NM: Little Tusas Ranch

 Why hello there, blog. I swear I haven't been neglecting you, just not much riding this summer. It seems that has changed recently and all of a sudden I'm playing catch-up!! Let's get to it.

Labor Day weekend provided an opportunity to not only escape the Valley of the Sun, which really lived up to its name this summer, and head for the cooler climes of northern New Mexico. A longtime friend, Lee, had recently purchased a ranch there and Scott had also been using it as a home base. I haven't done any riding in the area so it all seemed to line up for a great weekend in the outdoors.

Sandia Peak near Albuquerque.

I didn't want to arrive too late on Thursday, so I reached out to another buddy, Kevin, in Santa Fe at the last minute to see if I could crash at his place. He was happy to oblige and it shortened my drive by almost 2 hours. It was great to catch up, check out his now finished biking man cave and get some more trail recommendations. If you're looking for bikepacking rides in the Santa Fe region check out Adventure Bikepacking on FB.

Kevin has a cool place and a massive garden, makes for a delicious pizza.

Friday morning I made my way north to Lee's place. It's up in the mountains sitting around 8800'. I had given Scott a disclaimer about my ride fitness and limitations from not riding much these past few months. Add in the leap in elevation gain and I knew I was in for some challenging rides even if they were short, but I needed it.

Nice quiet setting off a rural dirt road.

Named after the creek that passes through the property.

Lee's been building his own private trail too: Big Tree Trail.

The man with a plan. For all the years we've known each other, this was our first time riding together.

It's not just big, it's massive!!

The trail gives the grand tour of the property.

Looking back at the Big Tree.

Scott and I were the first to ride this bridge Lee built.

The second bridge had a bit more sketch factor, so we walked it. Perfectly shaped log though.

Looking down valley from the ranch. There's a paved road out there...

Nice clear, cold spring next to the cabin too.

The dirt floor was cool, but Lee has been super busy turning this rustic cabin into a functional home/work space.

Time for a driveway modification.

Anchoring in the first of the three bridges on my final morning there. The bridge has since been planked across the top.
The trail currently ends near the third bridge. We did a bit of scouting for the next section, it'll be cool to see how it turns out.
This was a nice warm-up ride, short miles, a little bit of climbing and a very relaxed pace. I know it goes against what a lot of our friends think, but Scott and I can do short rides!!

The next morning we took it slow getting going, enjoying the cool morning air. Lee had gone to his place in Taos the previous night, so I was able to get a good rest on the bed in the cabin. Today's ride would be a bit longer, but it was all dirt roads doing a loop north of the ranch mostly on FS80, then back to the ranch of FS133 which happens to be the Tour Divide route.
Heading north on FS133.

After some steady climbing, the views opened up.

Nearing Broke Off Mtn. and Valle Grande.

A few yellow leaves...

Valle Grande!! Photo by Scott

Just us and the cows. Photo by Scott.

Check out the Dr. Seuss looking trees!! They can't decide which way they want to lean.

Climb approaching. Photo by Scott.

Cruising through the aspen groves.

Aspen Alley. Photo by Scott.

Extra thick here.

A small window appeared to the distant peaks to the north.

On the Divide route, southbound riders will be riding towards me.

I'm glad we did the loop in the CW direction as this would've been a long steep climb!!

Lee enjoying his new home turf.

The spring looked promising, but dry as a bone.

Don't expect to find water at Beehive Spring.
I thought it was funny how 3/4 of the loop was solely on FS80. Again, it was a nice ride and I could tell I was beginning to get acclimated to the 9k range.