Another Bike to Ride at Night

Yup. I got another bike. But in my defense this one is a used Craigslist find that only cost me $150.00 AND it came with a sweet set of panniers and a sturdy rear rack. Here it is.

And here’s the panniers. They’re a perfect replacement for the REI ones I used on my front rack last year. Now we just need to do some bike camping!

It’s been years since I’ve done any mountain biking. Somewhere along the last fifteen years I lost my passion for screaming down rocky, muddy tracks and hoping my handlebars cleared the trees. I got sick and tired of having to carry my bike up steep washed out trails covered with leaves that hide wet, knotty root systems and then bouncing my way down the other side in what looked more like a dried up (or not) stream bed where someone came along and stuck up some trail makers. Ah. But this was all before I’d encountered mountain biking that NOT on the east coast. I’m sure my mother is somewhere cringing as she reads this…

So I now have this Schwinn Mesa GS and while it’s not anything fancy, and plenty of mountain bikers would laugh at me. No disc brakes, cheap front suspension, no rear suspension, etc. ย brakes, schmakes…it fits well and I’ve had a lot of fun on it in the month that I’ve owned it.

A new Meetup group here caters to folks who like to mountain bike at night. I know, this sounds pretty dangerous and for someone who has been avoiding that side of things (I’m a magnet for accidents that involve me doing stuff outside with no health insurance…) it’s doesn’t sound like the best group for me to ride with. Oh well, ya only live once! Last week we took a spin down the rail trail which I am now going to call the Lamy trail because that it where it goes. The section of this trail within the city of Santa Fe is paved and you’ve seen me post images of it plenty of times. If you ride this trail out of Santa Fe it turns into a graded sandy path. It’s quiteย wide and lots of folks run, walk or bike here. A mile and a half away from the pavement it turns into rough double track and finally single track.

Last week we took our first night ride under the full moon and it was a blast! This trail doesn’t have any real technical terrain, although it can become technical in the dark or if you have a few drinks first, so I’ve been told. It has a couple of rough spots like this drop off.

One of the unique things about riding in the desert is that IF it rains it tends to wash the trail out in dramatic ways that make it look very different than the last time you rode there. Keeps you on your toes. Here’s the three fellows I did the night ride with. We rode out and watched the sun set and then rode back under the full moon.

This is what it looked like on the ride back.

At least I didn’t get eaten by a mountain lion or pack of ravenous coyotes.

The difference in elevation change between Santa Fe and Eldorado (About 7.8 miles) is a whopping total of thirteen feet! Now, this trail isn’t flat by any means. It has a great assortment of steep, but short, climbs and shallow, winding dives full of ess turns. The parts to watch out for are the arroyos. These a shallow but narrow gulches that are full of sand. They channel rain water when it does rain because the dry ground struggles to absorb much and most of the time the result is flooding. When it’s not raining they look like empty creek beds full of sand. You can easily hit one and wipe out on a bike. It sort of feels like riding into marshmallow but results in a bad brush burn if you actually fall off. Here’s one from last summer that I washed out in.

On a side note, you can avoid these sorts of things by not riding slick tired touring bikes in the desert.

Other pitfalls include loose gritty, pebbles and cholla cacti. You don’t want to land on a cactus. Now, despite how miserable all of this might sound there are two things it is not. One of them is “wet” and one of them is “cold”. I’ll take sand pits and cacti any day over being cold and wet. This is my cold and wet face.

If your visiting Santa Fe or live here and want to go for a ride the Lamy trail is a good option. It gets you out in the desert, is easy to find the trail and follow it AND it is almost impossible to get lost since it goes out and back. You’ll see some folk out there riding but it isn’t crowded and you won’t have to worry about serious terrain that gets you in over your head. Plenty of local shops rent mountain bikes and some will even offer guided rides if you want to payย for it.

There are other places to mountain bike within close proximity to the city like La Tierra or the Dale Ball Trails and Atalaya Mountain but the Lamy trail offers a good balance of fun, features and desert beauty.



5 thoughts on “Another Bike to Ride at Night

  1. Not any real mtn bikers (will laugh at you) ๐Ÿ˜‰ Nothing what-so-ever with a good basic hardtail,my friend. If the pics are any indication,you scored a great deal,IMO ๐Ÿ™‚ I hope it brings you many miles of smiles. (BTW,out of the 3-4 bikes I currently own-1 CX,1 Surly Troll which pulls dual duty,1 mtn bike-my mtn bike is a 29″er hardtail SS,and the duties/setups the Troll pulls are gravel/touring/and mtn biking-it’s dual rigid ๐Ÿ˜‰ ). Have fun with and enjoy it ๐Ÿ˜€

    The DC

    • Hi DC!

      I’m actually searching for a cross bike right now…I think the new term is gravel grinder? I found a nice used Miyata at a local shop and the fellows there are going to overhaul it to allow me to ride the dirt path or hop on the road. I cant wait to see it! My surly LHT is good for this too but is so weighted down with racks it’s become a bit of a tank. I’m also a big fan of rigid frames but they seem to be hard to find in the MTB world.

      • LOVE my cross bike,I have more mileage on it than any bike (it’s an Origin 8 700CX frame,budget minded parts build,I think I had around $900 total in it when I did it back in early ’11)…it’s my go-to bike (tho I’d thought the Surly Troll would replace it as such,being so versatile) because it’s capable of everything,I’ve had it on long road rides,lots of gravel/rail trails…even tight technical singletrack trail,LOL! Rigid frame are everywhere if one knows where to look,it’s just that the industry pushes dual sussers so much it seems like they’re a dying breed,but I assure you,hardtails/rigid bikes will never die. (not saying there’s anything wrong with the industry doing such,if one stands still for too long,they die off,LOL,so inovation must continue,and there are so many peope in this world who love the latest greatest wonderbike who deserve to have the choice of a new dual susser-but the industry also knows where their bread and butter is,and that’s quality,affordable hardtails ๐Ÿ˜‰ ๐Ÿ˜› ).

        Looking forward to seeing pics of it,my friend ๐Ÿ˜€

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