Category Archives: biking New Mexico

Cycling to work and beyond

This week in May many cities celebrate cycling with a “bike to work day.”  Here in Albuquerque it’s Friday May 19.  I’m a believer in cycling everyday, and aligning a ride around work or school is a good way to get started.  That’s how my cycling began 20 years ago in Reno, Nevada.

There are more benefits than we can imagine in cycling to work.  We get to know our cities better.  We see life from a new perspective.  And we develop our cycling skills as we navigate through varied infrastructure to get to where we need to go.  Cycling to work is a healthy habit.

The key is making cycling a routine.  Transportation is a lifeway, just like eating.  When we try changing with a short term fix, like going on a diet, it usually doesn’t stick.  And cycling to work is going to be the same way.  The idea is to make it a habit that becomes integral to your routine.  We can celebrate cycling everyday!  Bike to church.  Bike to the store.  Bike to open space.

The amazing thing about cycle commuting is how much you accomplish outside of the trip itself.  First of all, cycling energize our lives.  We arrive to work fresh, and if the weather was bad outside, actually relieved to be at our desk.  Free shelter!  Many employers reward cycle commuters with health bonuses, and you become an example for your colleagues.  You boost morale and your enthusiasm is contagious.  People are proud to work with you!  And when you arrive home, you’re already refreshed and replenished with a happy and clear mind.

As a student of cycling, the bike commute is a masters course.  It gets us on the bike twice a day.  The preparation it takes commands concentration and mindfulness.  And we get to practice our cycling skills without having to carve away free time.  There’s an interview with our national hill climbing champion, Leroy Popowski, on the top of Pikes Peak in Colorado.  They ask him what he does to get fit, and he responds that most of his training is riding to and from work with a backpack.  He’s not kidding.  You can look him up on Strava.  Same route twice a day.  That’s ten rides a week.  Of course, then he goes off on the weekends and does more exploring.  But the bike commute is the core for a joyful cycling life.  I hope you seize the chance to begin this May!

Resources:
Find out more at Albuquerque’s member-driven volunteer-run not-for-profit, BikeABQ:
http://www.bikeabq.org
Check out Santa Fe, New Mexico’s bike to work day events:  https://www.biketoworksantafe.com
The League of American Cyclists bike to work month page: http://bikeleague.org/bikemonth

Land of Peace and Light

Mai and I visited White Sands National Monument on National Public Lands Day.  We walked in the pale afternoon on the gypsum sand dunes.  I was awestruck by the land and light.

mai-stabilizing-climbing

white-sands-close

With free admission as part of the celebration, the parking area and picnic grounds were bustling with activity.  Families were barbequing, taking photos, and children and adults alike were sledding down the slippery gypsum sands.  What a marvelous, festive scene.

white-sands-way-out-there

mai-white

If you want silence and solitude, all you have to do is walk westward over the first dune, then another, further yet, new horizons of endless sand appearing over each ridgecrest, and in minutes the white sands have swallowed up all but a few intrepid people.  Silence rules.

white-sands-dunes-edge

white-sands-yucca-crystal-light

Walking is great in the park, and so is cycling.  White Sands offers full moon bike rides twice a year.  Bring the whole family.  Catering to cycling and walking like this, the National Park Service is my bike organization of the month for June, 2016 (a little catching up to do).  Peace.

white-sands-yes

Resources: White Sands full moon bike rides
https://www.nps.gov/whsa/planyourvisit/full-moon-bike-ride.htm

Rolling Valles Caldera

Two weekends ago Mai and I took a trip to Valles Caldera National Preserve to ride bicycles.  They have a cool network of back roads.  Cycling is such a spectacular way to explore a park.

Valles skyline

Valles Mai Sailing

Valles Caldera is a supervolcano that erupted over a million years ago.  It’s an enormous uplift with a ring of 11,000′ peaks encircling a broad expanse of  grassy meadows in the caldera beneath the rim.  There are thousands of elk there, meadows and forest, lots of open space.

Valles slant

Valles Mai leaning

Valles real live cowboy

There’s also a working ranch.  We spotted a cowboy herding cattle with his two dogs, decorative shirt filling with air, puffing out, waving in the wind.  Mai said this was the first cowboy on horseback working the range she’s seen in her two decades living in the American West.

Valles cruising with Mai

Valles on the road with Mai

It was a pretty sweet ride.  Just after noon the building clouds started to let loose in places, curtains of rain drifting in curves toward the treetops that make up the jagged skyline.  The summer monsoon is pretty predictable in the Jemez Mountains this time of year.  We finished our ride just before the lightning and roaming grey clouds closed in on our location.

Valles meadow

Valles Mai smiling

Valles water

As we celebrate 100 years of American’s National Parks, I wonder about our vision and goals for the next 100 years.  I remember reading Edward Abbey’s rants about industrial recreation, and there still seems to be a growing trend towards bigger, heavier vehicles.  That’s certainly not sustainable, as we are not growing any more open space.  It makes a lot of sense to park your car at the visitor center and ride your bike in if you can.  Experiencing parks by bicycle is perfect.

Valles Mai

Valles purples and blue

Resources–
Valles Caldera has a rich and interesting history in many ways.  One of the innovative developments that has come out of human interaction with this unique landscape is “A place-based approach to science for land management.”  More on that here:  https://www.fort.usgs.gov/sites/sense-place-place-based-approach-science-land-management/sense-place-place-based-approach

 

New Mexico Bike Summit 2016

Here’s an Announcement from the New Mexico Bicyclist Educators.  Like them on Facebook!
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NM Bike Educators

Grab your bike, BREAK FREE from your daily grind and join us at the New Mexico Bike Summit in Las Cruces on April 23, 2016. Mark your calendar — registration information coming soon.

The New Mexico Bike Summit is an inclusive event welcoming advocates, educators and bicycle enthusiasts of every kind. Come see old faces, make new friends and learn about what’s happening in New Mexico related to bicycling.

Topics/Speakers include:

*US Bike Routes / USBR 90*
– Jennifer Milyko, Adventure Cycling Association, Assistant Director Routes & Mapping

*Rio Grande Trail*
– Dan Carter – Southern NM Trail Alliance, President
– Peter Mattox – Southern NM Trail Alliance, Rio Grande Trail Commissioner

*Safe Routes to School*
– Ashleigh Curry, Las Cruces Public Schools Safe Routes to School Cooridinator

*Albuquerque Bike Share Program*
– Valerie Hermanson, Regional Planner Mid-Region Council of Governments

Additional Panelists:
– Carrie Hamblen – Las Cruces Green Chamber
– Jamie Lakey – NMSU, Velo Cruces
– Scott White – Velo Paso

The New Mexico Bike Summit is coordinated by NMBE.

Freedom Horses

When my mother was here visiting she said Albuquerque has more people bicycling and better walking and bicycling infrastructure than any place she’s seen.  This reminded me it is important to take stock and be grateful for what we have.  She looked at the extensive multiuse trail system, all the bike lanes and the pedestrian/bicycle bridges and figured there were some forward looking people behind this.  Plus tons of people bicycle.  I appreciate the riding here.  The bicycling is good in much of the city and on the edges, and it gets better as you ride out.

Serene

These photos are from rides past the Hagan ghost town, the Los Lunas loop, and a walk on the river

Hagens ride

Hagens road sculpture

Hagens wild horses

Las Lunas toward Laguna lands

If you’re looking for clean air, diverse cultures and landscapes and open vistas the Albuquerque area has these resources.  You can go in any direction and experience beautiful country.  There  are wild horses running on the northeast shoulder of the Sandia Mountains.  Freedom horses.

Hagens freedom horses

Las Lunas bend

Bosque bliss

I saw so many people out bicycling today on Tramway Road and all over the city.  Bicyclists are a resilient community.  If you’re willing to mix it up and ride some dirt roads, multi use trails, and paved roads you can ride to the horizon and beyond.  I feel like you can ride forever here.   If we make the bicycling even better we’ll be more sustainable, healthier and freer.

freedom horses

Las Lunas range

I love these words from Cormac McCarthy.  Buy his new book The Passenger coming out soon.

That night he dreamt of horses in a field on a high plain where the spring rains had brought up the grass and the wildflowers out of the ground and the flowers ran all blue and yellow far as the eye could see and in the dream he was among the horses running and in the dream he himself could run with the horses and they coursed the young mares and fillies over the plain where their rich bay and their rich chestnut colors shone in the sun and the young colts ran with their dams and trampled down the flowers in a haze of pollen that hung in the sun like powdered gold and they ran he and the horses out along the high mesas where the ground resounded under their running hooves and they flowed and changed and ran and their manes and tails blew off of them like spume and there was nothing else at all in that high world and they moved all of them in a resonance that was like a music among them and they were none of them afraid horse nor colt nor mare and they ran in that resonance which is the world itself and which cannot be spoken but only praised.  From All the Pretty Horses, winner of the National Book Award for Fiction, 1992

Rio Rancho, Bike Culture, and Bicycling Economy

It was one of those mornings that opened into a long ride.  The air is so clear the day after the storm.  I ended up exploring Rio Rancho some.  On their Convention and Visitor’s Bureau page, they advertise “high-altitude training and racing on miles of paved roads and mountain terrain.”  It’s true.  Set up in rolling grasslands Rio has spectacular vistas of the mountains all around.

Sandia glory

to the mountains off 550

distant mountains

Bicycling is wonderful way to build a sense of place.  I passed the Green Jeans Farmery on the way through Albuquerque.  It is made from shipping containers, and is right on a spur off the North Diversion Channel Trail.  Having a destination like this drives bike culture.  It’s happening.

Santa Fe Brewing complex on Diversion Trail spur

Green Jeans

A little further down on the Paseo Del Norte Trail I passed the Rail Runner while it was picking up.  There were two city buses as well.  Multimodal connections.  A group was taking a photograph together prior to boarding the train.  Then they were whisked off in a flash.

ABQ Paseo and Rail Runner Station

ABQ multimodal connections

ABQ multimodal

In case anyone is wondering, that is green tea (with honey and sea salt) in my second water bottle.  Yummy, antioxidant goodness.  Through Corrales I saw a horseperson riding.  And I found a beautiful bike trail on the West Side along an arroyo.  And up by Unser, there is an intersection with three bicycle trails stacked on top of each other.  I always take the wrong one when trying to navigate on the trail to Boca Negra that goes underneath Unser.

Corrales

West side trail

three trails

Amazing all the sights I saw today.  More amazing that I came away with these photos on my silly cell phone.  But was it easy?  Well, the exercise part is not necessarily easy, but I thoroughly enjoy the workout.  The navigation part can be made easier, and should be.  Although there are excellent segments of infrastructure, the transportation system for bicycling is a fragmented and disjointed.  Try for instance riding Unser across Rio Rancho and the West Side.  It is a mixed bag. The most intelligent comment I’ve ever heard is one from a planner in Albuquerque.  She said we should plan for bicycles like we do for cars.  That is pretty much it.  Where ever there is car traffic, there is demand for bicycles.  If we center the lay of our communities around walking, biking, transit, and yes cars too (I love driving, what luxury), I think we’ll be better positioned to take off economically, and certainly we’ll all get on the right track integrating healthy activity into our daily routines.  What a world class place for bicycling.  Love it here.

Unser north

Unser south

I rode some six foot bike lanes in the Mariposa development off Unser Northwest.  Want to encourage more bicycling?  Build six foot bike lanes!  That is a good design width for two riders together, which is preferable, with two pairs of eyes on the road, greater visibility, positioned for clear communication, and socially conscious.  For one rider six feet of bike lane feels comfortable.  Yes.  Through all the road and lane configurations I rode today, drivers were graceful and patient.  That is the most important thing.  We are growing into bicycling.

Mariposa six foot bike lanes

Southwest grasslands roll

NW landscape

 

 

 

Roadway Safety Culture Conference Nov. 5-6

I was browsing the FHWA’s Planning resources and found this upcoming conference.  Here’s the registration link.  When we get organized, partner up and decide we are going to do something about an issue, we make progress.  Here in New Mexico our Dept. of Transportation is working on “retooling” itself to “improve safety for all system users…provide multimodal access and connectivity for community prosperity and health…and respect New Mexico’s cultures, environment, history, and quality of life” to meet these goals set forward in the 2040 Transportation Plan.  By tapping into these national resources, learning about organization transformation, and building interdisciplinary and interagency networks, plus forging public private partnerships, we can accelerate progress on increasing roadway safety.  We’ll get immediate and much more satisfactory results by coming together and focusing.  Here’s more information on the conference:
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