East Mountains Loop

Those Who Wait

open fields and Sandia Mtns view from Frost Rd

open fields and Sandia Mtns view from Frost Rd

Ride Description:  This is about a two hour ride from the eastern edge of Albuquerque.  This route soothes my soul, offering great pedaling enjoyment across rolling terrain that is quiet and relaxing.  A ride that refreshes, offering many of the highlights of what we bicycle for: To change our scenery, see beautiful countryside, meet our neighbors out on the road, a chance to see wildlife, and breathe fresh piñon scented air while taking in great views of the surrounding mountains.  It replenishes the nervous system, elevates well being, and builds resiliency in the body and mind.  Oh yeah, if you’re training for a triathlon, charity or fund raising bike ride, building aerobic capacity and endurance for your chosen sport, or just getting your daily outdoor time or workout, this is a great place to get fit.  The altitude ranges from a mile high to nearly 7,000′ above sea level.

Gutierrez Canyon Rd is one of the most charming bicycle roads anywhere

Gutierrez Canyon Rd is one of the most charming roads anywhere

pure simplicity.  A bike, a road, you ride in beauty

Pure simplicity. A bike, a road, you ride in beauty  The speed limit on Gutierrez is 25mph, 15mph around corners.

I remember watching Breaking Bad’s creator Vince Gilligan being interview by Charlie Rose.  When asked about his time spent filming and living in Albuquerque, Mr. Gilligan remarked that one of the most wonderful things about Albuquerque was in ten minutes travel time from anywhere in town you could be out in what felt like the middle of nowhere, wild open spaces.  That open space was unique and worth preserving, he thought.

An orientation towards the charm of the landscape is not only healthy for the film industry and lucrative for the economy, but also cherished by outdoor loving people living and visiting here,  part of the fabric of our quality of life.  Albuquerque has an urban charm enhanced by those unbeatable soft desert nights when the arid atmosphere makes colorful city lighting look so pretty.  When coupled with the surrounding open and wild spaces on the river, in the grasslands and desert, and up towards the cholla covered mesas blending into the juniper and piñon forests all the way to spruce, fir and aspen forests and mountain tops high above, this place is incomparable.

Sandia Mtns view from Gutierrez Canyon Rd

Sandia Mtns view from Gutierrez Canyon Rd

 

South Mountain looking east from Frost Road

South Mountain looking east from Frost Road

Route Description:  I-40 multi use trail from Los Altos Skate Park for three miles.   No motorized traffic and no intersections, with underpasses of the major intersecting roads of Eubank and Juan Tabo.  A little known gem of a trail, with planned continuity and connectivity all the way across the city paralleling I-40.  Tijeras Canyon Rd, or Old Rt. 66, or NM 333.  I take this for 7-8 miles through the Village of Tijeras, past 14 North, taking a left on N. Zamora Road.  Tijeras Canyon Road has generous shoulders and is freshly repaved.  This road gains just over a thousand feet of elevation in 7 miles over undulating terrain.  When there is wind in the area, it is windiest here in the canyon.  This is a challenging ride.  N. Zamora Road. This parallels I-40 on the north side. Take it just over a mile past Tijeras Estates.  The road eventually turns to dirt and dead ends past where this route turns off so there is no through traffic.  Take a left on Gutierrez Canyon Rd.  Gutierrez Canyon Rd. exudes bicycling charm.  On these roads out here I see all kinds of cyclists, including neighborhood riders, the only uniformity between them being the huge smiles of satisfaction in the moment on their faces.  This is one of the best bicycling roads imaginable.  After several miles it turns into Rider Rd. and eventually T’s at Frost Rd.  Take a right on Frost Road and follow for a few miles.  Frost Road has a nice bike lane and traffic that is used to bicyclists.  Take a right on Vallecito Dr.  This road has smooth pavement, light traffic, a bike lane, and great views of rural estates and the Sandia Mtns.  After a mile or so take a right on Meadow Dr.  More of the same country grandeur, splendor and laid back content feel.  You just can’t believe how good the bicycling is here.  Finally take a right on Sedillo Hill Rd.  and that returns you to old Rt. 66.  Follow West back to town.

Vallecito Dr. w/ views of the Jemez Mtns far away

Vallecito Dr. w/ views of the Jemez Mtns far away

Meadow Dr. heading toward the jagged and forested eastern front of the Sandias

Meadow Dr. heading toward the jagged and forested eastern front of the Sandias

This ride from my place in Albuquerque east on Rt. 66 to the East Mountains astounds me with the confluence of diverse land types that make this area so exceptional.  You can see a great deal in a relatively short two hour ride.   To be able to experience the contrast from leaving New Mexico’s urban heart and largest city, and immediately being in rural landscapes that have the character, living styles, and topographies, the warm charms of New Mexican countryside.  You can be taken in by the unassuming and accepting character of the people.  This is a real treasure.  The openness of the desert terrain.  The human communities.  The good roads.  The breadth and expansiveness from the desert terrain to the jagged ridgeline of the Sandias to the far away peaks in the Jemez Mountains, this place is awesome.  A basic bike ride connects us to it all.  The East Mountains Loop is a great ride.

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