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Ride to the ride.
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The Girl I Ride With (GIRW) and I planned a 2-week vacation, heading south for warmth, and hoping to pack it full of camping, hiking and lots-o-riding.

It hasn't worked out quite like that... The day before leaving we got the call. Family stuff for which our presence would be required. (Or mine, anyway. But she was kind enough to come along.) We took two nights of chilly camping to get there. Then for four days we were responsible parents of two children and four dogs living in a suburban tract home in a bustling urban corridor, ensuring the nephews were fed, clothed, bathed, off to school, to football practice, to birthday parties -- a drastic turn from our usual lifestyle of self-indulgent hedonism (or something like that).

We tried to ride while the kids were in school. Hall Ranch in Lyons said "No Dogs" much to the disappointment of our two little trail-running beasts. We skipped it and tried Rabbit Mountain, where "Dogs must be leashed" -- the sign for which we saw just after the beasts had exploded from the car and run rampant toward the prairie dog town at the trail head. Riding rocky trails with dogs on leash makes for awkward and unsatisfying riding, but it was better than nothing at all, and it's possible that the dogs were not on leash the entire ride which might make us common criminals, but which also might have allowed us to regain a sliver of sanity with which to endure the servitude so common among parents and so unfamiliar to us.

When we were free to go, southern Arizona seemed too distant for the time remaining. We headed out on snowy roads to central New Mexico. Stopped and tried to ride Cedro Peak near Albuquerque. We got a map from the ranger station after the ranger told us where he lived and about a recent unrelated forest fire and about unexploded ordinance on a nearby military range... But wasn't able to answer our questions about mountain biking except with one of the above topics. We took the map and made a stab in the dark. While Trina stayed by the truck and slept off some 4-cup-o-coffee nausea, the little dogs and I "rode" (hike-a-biked) up a loose, stony trail to a dirt road to another dirt road to another dirt road. Then we turned around and rode back and slowly down the loose trail. Not much of a mountain bike ride.*

Went on to Bosque del Apache to watch sandhill cranes and other wildlife. Camping temperatures would have been in the teens, but we were cheap-motel-ing it, cooking on the tailgate in the parking lots. Bosque was very cool, but we didn't get a ride out of it.

Yesterday, we aimed back toward home with a couple stops planned on the way. First: Gallup, NM. I'd read the article in BIKE and had heard a couple rumors. We rolled the truck into town with some daylight left, parked at the west trailhead for the High Desert Trail, and just jumped on the bikes in our street clothes, mostly expecting to get the dogs some exercise and spin around before dark. Within moments, we were both grinning, swooping and pumping along some sweet singletrack among cliffs and hoodoos lit by the rosy setting sun.

THIS is what we were supposed to be doing on this trip! And we'd found it at last! Looped out and back as the sun set and the sky lit up. And we're looking forward to more today. I'll have to report back the next time I have an internet connection.
 

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caffeine dependent
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186 Posts
Nice, it's good that you got your ride.

Sorry you had to suffer Rabbit Mountain, but at least you got to take your dogs. Did you see any rattlesnakes?
 

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Ride to the ride.
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
A few more shots from the trip. By the fire. (Back when we were tough enough to camp -- last week.) Thrift store coats = dog sleeping bags. Rabbit Mountain wildlife. Camelbak drinkin' dogs.
 

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Ride to the ride.
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
We got out and rode a bunch of the High Desert Trail today. Good fun and nice scenery. 17 degrees F last night (glad we weren't camping) but shorts and a light long-sleeved jersey for riding. We took a mellow pace and brought the dogs, just enjoyed the flow of the trail, the sunshine, the views. Had lunch and some stops to explore the interesting rocks. Managed to spend about 4.5 hours out there and rode three of the loops, which are like a big figure 8 with an extra cross. I have no idea what the mileage is.

One disappointment was that the section closest to the trailhead was the most fun in a technical-kind-of-way. The GIRW and I like it a bit rough, and what rough there was tended to fade away as we rode east. Not complaining, really. Great trail and good fun, but definitely in a more smooth cross-country kind of way. Very impressed with the general flow and the pump-ability. Almost makes it seem like it's gently downhill both ways.

A dang good day on the bike, tempered by a long drive northward to Cortez. We hope for more biking fun tomorrow!

Thanks all for reading. That cougar was particularly nasty, but we managed to tame it. There are a few more "animals" along the trail. Crux: I was guessing there were better trails there somewhere, but with limited research and ride time, we tried, and didn't exactly succeed.

--Greg

PS: As near as we can tell, there is no longer an actual bicycle shop in Gallup. Business opportunity, anyone?
 

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saddlemeat
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Plenty more

Evil Patrick said:
Tracey and I rode Gallup, NM a couple of months ago. While it's commendable that the
town is really trying to be a destination for MTBs, we really wish they had laid out more
technical and challenging stuff. Oh well.
The High Desert Trail is what we consider a smack RSS trail. You have to ride in the Zuni Mountains for the more challenging trails, although even there you may not find much to challenge you except for just sheer miles of sublime singletrack. It's mostly an xc world around Gallup and the Zuni Mountains, more dessert than bloody meat. ;)

No actual bike shop in Gallup, sadly. :bluefrown:
 

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govt kontrakt projkt mgr
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6,171 Posts
High Mesa ??

High Mesa is out of business??!! I see the website is gone.
I never get to anywhere hardly by the time its glory has come and gone it seems :mad:

bsieb said:
The High Desert Trail is what we consider a smack RSS trail. You have to ride in the Zuni Mountains for the more challenging trails, although even there you may not find much to challenge you except for just sheer miles of sublime singletrack. It's mostly an xc world around Gallup and the Zuni Mountains, more dessert than bloody meat. ;)

No actual bike shop in Gallup, sadly. :bluefrown:
 

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saddlemeat
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ArmySlowRdr said:
High Mesa is out of business??!! I see the website is gone.
I never get to anywhere hardly by the time its glory has come and gone it seems :mad:
I hear there might be a shop by next season, but there is not a lot of money in a small town (22,000) shop. I wish someone who knows how to make it work would come here and do it, it's a great place to live and recreate. The Four Corners region is pretty much mtb paradise on all fronts. The adjacent Zuni Mountains will prolly keep me absorbed for the rest of my career. :)
 

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Ride to the ride.
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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Cortez, Colorado - Sand Canyon

In Cortez, the MTBR rumors were that Phil's World might be muddy. That was our target trail. But the back-up trail was Sand Canyon, so we rode that. After a chilly morning the day was warm and the sky was vibrant blue, though snow feathered the north side of Sleeping Ute Mountain way across the valley.

We had an incident with a loose, wild, and out-of-control dog. We thought that after the long ride the day before, it would be better if we left our three dogs at the truck. Would save their feet and give them some rest. One dog doesn't run anymore, and she's always happy to be leashed up to wait by the truck. The little white dog isn't fond of being left behind, but he's an old hand at it and settles in just fine.

The little red dog, Sprocket, is new to us by about 3 weeks and seems to suffer from some separation anxiety. We left him inside the topper of the truck, secured inside a kennel we've built onto a shelf on half of the bed. Hadn't been a problem leaving him there during various activities like shopping, restaurants and such. But for a bike ride... We hadn't tried it yet.

He whimpered and cried as we rode up the slickrock trail and out of sight. We climbed the main Sand Canyon wide-track, passed a nice ancient alcove ruin, stonework walls built high into the canyon wall -- really cool to be able to ride near such historical features on a mountain bike. I think we were about a mile-and-a-half in, away from our bikes, hiking one of the spur trails, when... Up ran Sprocket. The GIRW and I looked at each other. Oh crap. And then we laughed. What were we going to do at that point? He came along for the rest of the ride.

Trail conditions seemed excellent. Sandy stretches were pretty moist and pretty rideable. Only a couple spots of shallow snow in the shadows. And only one tiny spot muddy enough to be called muddy. The whole climb made us feel a bit slow and heavy, but once we turned downward, we felt like superstars. Great upper canyon views. Some fun challenging spots, and we certainly didn't manage to ride them all. We rode the Cut Across to East Rock Trail, up and around the canyon, then skipped the West Rock Trail and headed back to the truck.

There, we grabbed Zeek, the white runnin' dog, and added him to our wild pack. Then the four of us rode/ran the main East Rock Trail, cutting back on the doubletrack shortcut. This stretch had nice alcove-filled sandstone walls, and several ruins to see. And gave us another pass through the super-fun slickrock and singletrack lower section that we'd already ridden once.

The red dog hung in for all of it, and didn't seem to be any more tired at the end than at the beginning. He really is a great little runnin' dog. Seems he'd escaped by slipping around the kennel door, then leaping out the topper window. Very bad of us to not secure him better. But we were happy that his prime motive was to find us, and that he'd easily sniffed us out and joined us.

Overall, the ride had a great feeling of being "out there". Nice mostly-climb that led to a nice mostly-descent with some fun tech features and some nice swoopy singletrack. All amid sweet desert canyon scenery, including anasazi ruins! --which made the whole ride seem rare and unusual. Worthy, I believe, of both our attention and our care to ensure that everything stays like it is for others to enjoy.

--Greg

Four shots from the ride plus one of the happy 'escapee' (from a previous ride).
 

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