BICYCLING THROUGH NORTHERN NEW MEXICO
By Gabriel Weinstein
Every year, hundreds of cyclists gather for the running of the 105-mile Gran Fondo, which begins in Taos.
You’ll see a little bit of everything when you clip on your pedals and take your bicycle for a spin in Northern New Mexico. High desert landscapes, towering mountains and lush alpine forests are just a few of the postcard scenes awaiting riders.
ORGANIZED CENTURY RIDES
You’ll have no trouble finding a century ride that captures your interest. Fans of riding the Enchanted Circle should check out the Rough Riders 200 and Enchanted Circle Century Tour. Both rides incorporate the Enchanted Circle loop which takes riders through Taos, Angel Fire, Eagle Nest, Red River, Questa, Arroyo Hondo and back down to Taos.
The Gran Fondo: Taos, Mora, Angel Fire and the Rough Riders 200 both take riders through the southern century loop of Taos, Sipapu, Mora, Angel Fire and Taos.
The Rough Riders 200 is June 25-26 and starts from Angel Fire. Brave riders complete back-to-back century rides during the two-day event. Shorter options are also available.
On day one of the Rough Riders 200, cyclists complete a 104-mile loop that begins in Angel Fire and circles around to Taos, Sipapu and Mora before finishing back in Angel Fire. The next day, riders completing the double century head out from Angel Fire and ride the Enchanted Circle clockwise for a 100-mile ride.
The Gran Fondo is slated for July 16. From Taos, riders trek to Sipapu, Mora, Angel Fire and end up back in Taos for a total of 105 miles.
Take a minute to enjoy the views between Guadalupita and Angel Fire during the Gran Fondo and the Rough Riders 200. The 1 1/2-mile stretch of narrow road, is hugged by a stream and lush forest canopy. It’s a favorite of Michael Martinez, co-director of the Rough Riders 200 and Jennifer Buntz, the Gran Fondo’s race director.
“It is more like a European road,” says Buntz. “It is a complete back road. It is twisty and curvy. It has a really different feel compared to the other parts of the road… It’s just gorgeous.”
The Enchanted Circle Century Tour in Red River the second weekend of September wraps up the summer’s century rides. The ride starts in Red River and goes counter clockwise around the Enchanted Circle. It winds down with a climb up Bobcat Pass and a final coast into Red River.
“You are able to see a lot that New Mexico has to offer in one ride,” said Evan O’Rear, who has helped out with the ride in various roles and is the assistant director of the Red River Chamber of Commerce.
Don’t be intimidated if you are not quite ready to tackle a century. All three events offer shorter rides. The Rough Riders 200 has 150-, 100- and 50-mile options. The Gran Fondo has 65- and 46-mile routes, and the Enchanted Circle Century Tour has 25- and 50-mile out and back trips.
MORE CRUISING ROUTES
If you are looking for a long-distance ride outside the Enchanted Circle or the Mora Loop, try some rides suggested by Taos cyclist Doug Pickett. On the Ojo-High Road 125, you’ll start your trek near the Río Grande Gorge Bridge and ride on to Ojo Caliente. From the high desert of Ojo Caliente you’ll ride through Española and onto the High Road to Taos. From the High Road you’ll go through the small communities of Chimayo, Truchas and Peñasco before journeying back to Taos.
Pickett recommends Tres Piedras as another good place to start your long-distance ride. An out and back from Tres Piedras to the Brazos Overlook is 54 miles and features 4,400 feet of climbing. Add on a stop to Tierra Amarilla to make it even longer. Riders eager for a 150-mile ride should try the Tres Piedras, Tierra Amarilla, Chama, Antonito, Tres Piedras loop.
For easier rides closer to the town of Taos, park your car at the intersection of State Roads 150 and 230 and cycle up State Road 150 all the way to Taos Ski Valley. The Hondo-Seco-Valdez loop is another local road favorite. If you want to ride closer to town limits, have fun wandering through the back roads of town on Ranchitos Road, Cuchilla Road, Camino Bajo de La Loma, Witt Road, Maestas Road and Espinosa Roads.