While the rest of you were racing the Grove, I was off in Santa Fe visiting the in-laws and doing a little exploring. Dave at Mellow Velo rented me his very own Eddy Merckx Cross bike. It was a gorgeous original, with 7020 tubing, dressed up in a combination of retro accouterments, including bar end indexed shifters in 8 speed. Really nice wheels….but the IRD tires were set up for that geeky “no-tubes” stuff. Unfortunately, my first day of riding consisted of three tire changes and limping back to the shop to pick up spare tubes. Fortunately (note to all who rent!!!) I brought two spare tubes and was packing three tubes when I went out. Still, I got in a good three hours of riding on the first day, and I didn’t intend on doing anything crazy on my second day living at altitude–Downtown sits at 7,260, my in-laws are probably about 7,600….
The second day I was hell bent to do a connector trail from Santa Fe to Tesuque to the Ski Basin. The main connection is up hwy 592 via Pacheco Canyon Road. Apparently a number of mountain bikers use it for distance training, but it’s really just fire roads like what we do in the Pine Hills….only it starts around 6700 ft and goes up to 10,500….I had a HELLISH tailwind that made it an incredibly quick and scary jaunt to the convenience market in Tesuque. Notably, these “markets” are fronted by rows of $100k automobiles, with supermodels and their aging husbands stopping in for an enchilada at the market restaurant. Fortunately, they also had Gatorade and Cliff bars. I got a couple of each, slammed my mostly untouched bottle, and headed for 592. The tailwind kept me flying, and I was passed by a car with a couple of mountain bikes. A good omen, as it turned out. About an hour after leaving Santa Fe, I was on Pacheco Canyon Rd. A mountain biker was pulling out in his truck as I arrived, and the car which passed me was sitting at the foot of the unpaved road.
Now, the tailwind was a 40mph-gods-know-what crosswind, and was blowing across a desert whipping up sand. I was climbing straight up into the mountains with the full weight of the wind. It was a bit scary. I couldn’t keep my eyes open because of the sand, and the 36-26 gearing was pretty harsh. I kept going, thinking that if things got too rough, I could always backtrack, go back to Tesuque, and eat enchiladas and drink beer with aging supermodels! Finally, I got into the “canyon”, and wow! The road follows Little Tesuque Creek, with a rush of water over rocks, and endless trees on both sides. The wind was no longer a problem, and all I had to do was push that 36-26 up a 6% grade on the rocky-sandy road for about 8 miles….It was awesome!!! Incredible! I could have used a little better gearing, but a cross bike is the way to go! I passed the mountain bikers about 5 miles in, and they told me some very useful information…turn right after the meadow!!! I would have stuck around and chatted with them, but, gee, they were in the 28-32….I had no choice.
Pacheco Canyon dumps you out before the Aspen Vista stop on Ski Basin Road. That’s sitting around 9,600 ft. I was starving and decided to head up to the Ski lodge to get a sandwich and beer….So, I slogged the three miles of climbing up to 10,500 ft…to find that they were closed. Fuckers. The descent really sucked. The winds were horrific, and Aspens were snapped across the road. There were several rockslides, and as I came into Hyde Park, a Huge Spruce snapped and covered the road. I got around it and continued. As I came to O’Grady’s favorite Massage Parlor, I realized I had a flat (again, my fourth in two days). I decided to pump and ride, so I pulled into 10,000 Waves, pumped it, and rode on to the Dragon Room at the Pink Adobe, where I lunched on delicious fish tacos and Santa Fe Pale Ale, and watched Trustafarians have their breakfast drinks (at 3pm). I returned the Merckx to Mellow Velo and walked back to my in-laws place looking like a total dork in full Team Mack kit the entire time. That night, we had a wonderful dinner at the Shed, where I tried their Pollo Adobo, and was well pleased. In all, it was a fine trip!