Riding in the Dark, Staying Warm and Coming Home to a Jumping Dog

Wow…it’s been a while since we’ve posted anything. We’re still in Santa Fe, NM and still riding our bikes as often as we can. At this point we’re mostly commuting to and from work and learning to deal with the relentless winds of Santa Fe as well as cold weather. While the sun shines endlessly here (which was one of the reasons we settled here) it is easy to look out the window in the morning and make the assumption that it is also warm. Nuh uh…not warm. Sitting on the patio in my backyard having tea in the sunshine with temps in the upper 30’s feels awesome. Once I leave the fenced in yard and house that was blocking the wind (usually between 15 and 25 mph) and head out the door and start riding it’s a whole ‘nother story!

So, we’re trying to figure out what assortment of clothing works best and I think we’re going to have to make a few purchases before the end of the winter if we want to keep riding. Our bicycle tour this spring had us riding in temps as low as 25 degs. F but there were only a few days of that and those temps only happened in the morning for a few hours.

I’ve been wearing my El Fito cycling tights by Ibex.

Ibex leggings

They were fantastic on the bike tour and I have been pretty darn comfortable in them down to the upper 30’s here. I actually feel that I could ride at lower temps in them if the wind chill factor was removed…but it isn’t. I’ll be looking for a layer to put over them. I’ve tried my Marmot Scree pants, a light soft shell with a tapered leg, but they proved to be a bit too much material in the crotch area, thus resulting in an unhappy sweat. They do perform well on other parts of the legs though especially since they are not meant for cycling but for hiking.

For me hands and feet suffer the most, often due to my Reynaud’s Syndrome. I am currently trying out the Pearl Izumi PRO Barrier lobster style mitts. So far, so good. Hands are cold for the first mile or so but heat up and stay warm after that. They offer amazing dexterity for having some of the fingers bundled together and the Pittard’s leather palms are smooth and supple on the handle bars. Review to come once I’ve had more time to try them out.

Feet are still cold and I am working on a solution that most likely involves toe covers. One of the nice things about riding here in winter is that precipitation rarely enters into the picture when one is getting dressed for the daily commute.

My ride is short (somewhere between 5 and 7 miles one way, depending on which route I take which is based on the time of day and traffic flow) and most of it looks like this.

My route conveniently goes by my bank. They think I’m nuts since I either show up on the bicycle or the scooter although they now know who I am (dork in some sort of helmet) and have stopped asking me for my ID.

The ride home is dark at this point. This equals colder and windier. The largest road (by which I mean scariest) I ride on is Cerrillos (three lanes) which has a lot of fast moving traffic on it but also has a shoulder/bike lane AND a wide sidewalk that no one ever walks on. I may resort to riding on the sidewalk once it starts snowing…if it is clear. The rest of the roads I ride have slower speed limits and do have marked bike lanes and speed tables to help keep traffic speeds down. Bumpy on the bike but VERY fun on the scooter!

I am considering adding some more lights to the bike since one of them has been acting up. I’m currently using the Serfas True 250 on the front and the Princeton Tec Swerve and NiteIze BugLit on the rear. All have worked well so far but I find myself constantly looking over my shoulder to see if the rear lights are still working. I guess I’m paranoid they will run out of juice on me at some point and I’ll get hit. Thus I’ve started wearing a Nathan reflective vest as well! I might be turning into the type of rider that Bike Snob enjoys writing about…

Anyway, my ride home last night saw me safe and sound to my door and here’s some shots of me and the dog, Ally, who is supposed to be learning not to jump….unsuccessfully.

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Santa Fe by Single Speed

The simplicity of a single speed bike. I have a love hate relationship with this simplicity. Upon contemplation of why I both aim to ride a single speed bike and yet stress over the ride, I’ve determined that I am trying to make riding a bike harder than it needs to be.

I’m trying to remember what it was like to ride a bike as a child. I didn’t worry about getting a flat or wiping out on a steep downhill littered with loose gravel. My ignorance of those possibilities did equal bliss. Now, I find it hard to look beyond potential accidents waiting to happen. This has resulted in me using a more complex bicycle and gear in hopes that I can alleviate some of these troubles. I carry a lot of stuff with me in case I get a flat or I run into someone else with a flat. I need to have a bike lock, front and rear lights, something to drink and maybe something to eat and if nothing else my wallet so I can buy something to eat or drink in an emergency! It all adds up and I end up needing at least one pannier for a two mile ride. Blah. The ride is rarely spontaneous for me anymore. So, lets just chalk all of that up to me getting older and finding things to stress about seems to be a hobby.

To break this mold I’ve made for myself I took a ride to downtown Santa Fe yesterday on a 3-speed bike I’ve just finished renovating. Hannah joined me on a single speed to see if it was possible to throw all cares out the window and just pedal along and enjoy the wind in your face. Indeed it was!

For this joyride I took my Rudge Sports made by Raleigh. It has 3-speeds, a front hand brake and rear coaster brake. I managed to load it down with some saddle bags (old habits are hard to break…) It isn’t a perfect fit for me but it is in great shape and handled the hilly terrain well and it has a cool chainwheel.

Rudge Sports Made by Raleigh

Rudge Sports Chainring

Hannah rode her J.C. Higgins Flightliner; the first bike we ever renovated! It’s still in our fleet and performed admirably with it’s single speed set up and solo, rear coaster brake.

JC Higgins Flightliner Santa Fe NM

We used a combination of bicycle paths and side streets which included a dark underpass for St. Francis but it had a neat wall with relief design.

Gail Ryba Trail underpass in Santa Fe NM

Rudge Sports in Santa Fe NM

Once we reached the downtown Plaza we relaxed for a bit and watched some local musicians busking. Many Native Americans sell their wares just outside the Palace of the Governors along side the Plaza and we strolled along there as well.

Santa Fe NM downtown plaza

From the Plaza we wandered over to Mellow Velo, a local bicycle shop, and ogled some Vicious Cycles they had in stock.

Moving on we rode along Paseo De Peralta to Canyon Road which is the main drag for art galleries in Santa Fe. At least one hundred and fifty of them! We’ve only toured four of them so far and stopped for a couple of shots.

Hannah at Canyon Rd Santa Fe NM

Bicycling in Santa Fe NM

JC HIggins Flightliner in Santa Fe NM

Outside the Gerald Peters Gallery Santa Fe

Finally, the wonderful New Mexican sunshine drove us back home for shade, refreshment and siesta. Along the way we passed some beautiful sunflowers which seem to grow naturally in northern New Mexico.

Santa Fe NM Sunflowers

Consensus for the days ride is that yes, you can ride a single speed around Santa Fe and yes it is good, grinning fun. The kind of fun you had as a kid.

Riding a Bicycle in Santa Fe

My initial impressions of Santa Fe’s transportation infrastructure was from the seat of a 24 foot long moving truck. My focus for maneuvering this hulking beast through the smaller neighborhood we’ve moved into didn’t leave me much time to consider how friendly the roads were for bicycles. Now free of the moving truck and fairly settled into our new home I’ve had a chance make a determination about how bike friendly this city is. the verdict…it’s pretty bike friendly.

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surly lht in santa fe

We live a block away from one of the main bike paths through the city. This path networks with other bike paths in the city but it also the main drag for folks looking to make a beeline downtown, which is what we are usually doing. The path follows the rail system through Santa Fe(which was built to move people from Santa Fe to Albuquerque and will allow you to carry a bike on board) and is more of a direct route than taking a car to travel in a north/south direction. There are a number of signs along the path to help you get where you are going. Some of them are painted on the path at road intersections and look like this.

Santa Fe rail trail sidewalk map

Others look like this.

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There are also a number of bike lanes on most major streets and secondary streets. They are wide and clean and pass alongside forward moving traffic at intersections (along the left side of right turning lanes) which eliminates some of the issue of cyclist getting hit as folks behind or beside them make a right turn. The city has also released a free, comprehensive map of bike paths and bike friendly streets. Each street is color coded on the map to let cyclist know what type of traffic to expect on each road. Busy or relaxed, fast or slow, etc.

While I really like the current set up here I’m sure there are ways they can be improved upon it. While looking around online for more info on Santa Fe’s bike friendly culture I discovered a “Master Plan” that won’t be completed until the year 2020 or so, but it appears to be quite an undertaking. The plan will “serve to coordinate investments in trails and roads, establish common guidelines for design, construction and maintenance, and develop shared strategies on education, enforcement and encouragement of bicycling as a transportation choice in the Santa Fe area.” If you’d like to read it for yourself you can find the document here.

So far, one of our favorite ways to spend a Tuesday or Saturday morning is to ride our bikes to the Railyard, which hosts a large and lively farmers market (complete with live music, food and drink, fresh everything and plenty of parked bicycles for us to ogle. There is also a nice selection of cafes, local shops and one of the larger outdoor stores in the area.

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santa fe railyard

We’re also in the process of working out the best carrying bags/baskets for around town ventures. I’ve bestowed my Detours Toto panniers upon Hannah since they do not fit on my Surly Nice Racks (The diameter of the Surly racks is a bit too thick to fit the Toto’s with the pannier clip shims and too small to use them without the shims. I truly love these bags and their versatility and will be looking for something similar that fits my new rack set up. Any suggestions from folks who’ve already solved this issue would be appreciated. Of course my Ortliebs fit but they are a bit overkill for a trip to the grocery store and I’ve like to have quicker access to the items in the bags. I’m currently using just one of them.

surly lht with ortlieb pannier

pake c'mute with detours toto panniers

Lastly, I’d just like to add that no matter where you ride a bike around here you always have the Sangre De Cristo Mountains or the Sandia Peak Mountains in the background. Not a thing I dislike about that!

santa fe rail trail riding