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Old 05-13-2012, 09:24 PM   #1
gregdee OP
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Joined: Oct 2011
Location: Tijeras, NM
Oddometer: 509
A Saturday in Central New Mexico

We live in central New Mexico and we are surrounded by amazing landscapes some of which are parts of Indian Reservations. A few weeks back there was a post in the Rockies regional forums about a ride taken on a rather chilly windy day where are few studly folks braved the freakish weather to ride. Part of their ride was through an area near where I live, intriguing me to go explore it.

Last weekend the wife and i headed out to retrace their steps but doing it backwards from what they had done. We headed up and over the Sandia's taking the dirt road from just above the ski area 9 miles down through the town of Placitas. We stopped for breakfast in Bernallilo and then headed north through Algadones and then on through the San Felipe reservation. While passing through the reservation I was truly surprised and how friendly everyone was - lots of waves from passing cars. Eventually we got back out to I-25 and the San Felipe Casino and here's where the fun began. We didn't really know which way to head but we knew there was a route that would cut about 10 miles across the desert back over to highway 14. Following the track laid out on my GPS we headed southwest up a dirt road. After a mile or so we decided this road wasn't heading in the right direction so we tried another slightly off-parallel route. This second route soon turned sketchy. I motored up a short steep lose hill covered in river rock. You know, the small slippery baby heads that make riding a bit of challenge. I waited at the top but after a few moments I realized Kerry wasn't coming. I rode down and found her wrestling to get her bike back up while standing precariously on those slippery rocks. I rode by slowly looking for a place to park the bike without it falling over on its own. I trudged back up the hill a few yards and helped her. She was a bit out of sorts and quite frustrated.

After discussing the route we decided it best to turn around as I did need to get to the airport to catch a flight out to Monterey, CA in a few hours so we didn't have all day to be exploring the various options. We headed back out to I-25, rolled north about 10 miles and took the Santo Domingo exit and took that familiar dirt road back over to highway 14 and headed home.

Fast forward to this weekend. Saturday was supposed to be better than Sunday weather wise so we went for it. We decided to hit the route we tried the previous weekend from the east as we knew that entrance well. There are two choices from highway 14. One is to take the Puertocito Rd. from 14 south of Golden about 3 or 4 miles. The other is to cut through the town of La Madera following La Madera rode until it joins the Diamond Trail after about 10 miles. We chose the second route as it provides 6 miles of fun schwoopty pavement followed by a few miles of dirt with plenty of great views to the route ahead. Here's a couple of shots:

After a few miles of beautiful twisty canyon roads along the Diamond Trail we noticed some old dwellings off to the north. Since we only had the cheapy point-and-shoot camera I couldn't zoom in much to get "the shot" but this should give you and idea and what was there.

My apologies for the poor quality. I think these ruins are not all that old. Notice the large chunks of cement foundation washed into the arroyo in the far left side of this image. We would have liked to explore these a little further but they we easily 100 yards off the road and the road was bordered with plenty of No Trespassing signs.

After another 4-5 miles we rolled through the San Felipe reservation coming in just to the north of the race track. The route seemed quite obvious coming from this direction thought we didn't see it during our previous attempt at this route.

From here we headed north along the freeway and then headed through Pena Blanca and up past the town of Cochiti Lake to see if Dome road or FS road 289 were opened yet. They are definitely not, and neither is the road from Tent Rocks over to Ponderosa and route 10 up to highway 4. Bummer.

So we back tracked and headed out to the Tetilla Peak recreation area as we'd never been down that road before. The road surface was a bit rough with old tarmac. Riding along this pavement was a lot like what I imagine riding on marbles would feel like. The front end wandered quite a bit but as there was almost no traffic it was still pretty easy going. After checking out the upper reaches of Cochiti Lake we headed back to the town of Labajada to find a route up onto the top of the mesa and into the Caja del Rio (box of the river) area.

I was told this route would be a bit tough but I figures it would be a good learning experience for Kerry to push her out of her comfort zone just a little. We easily found the route as it was the only alternative from the main dirt road. The climb started out with a gentle gradient but the road was definitely not suited for passenger cars. . I rode along bouncing from track to track picking the smoothest option. I had sent Kerry of ahead after we had dropped our tire pressure down to about 15 psi for the dirt section. I took a quick nature brake and then followed. I couldn't see her at first and it took me several minutes to catch up. I trailed behind her for a while watching her progress. She was riding well, and then I noticed her rear shift out a bit. Then the next section became quite rocky with a section of solid baby heads for a good twenty yards or more. She was obviously becoming flustered. At the first switchback she just road straight and then she just stopped in the apex of the turn.

I rolled up next to her and explained this wasn't the ideal position to stop in. She was starting to freak out so we took a quick break while discussing strategy for getting up the remainder of the hill which was a series of switchbacks all the way to the top. I got her bike positioned for her pointing straight up the next section aiming and the smoother of the two tracks ahead. Ready, set, go.....

I had hoped to get more shots on the way up but that was it. Kerry made it about halfway around the next turn and then stopped again. I rolled up and coaxed her on. Then she rode like a champ all the way to the top. We rolled on to highway 14 and grab some lunch.

Heading south on 14 towards home we took a hard right from the twisties between Cerillos and Madrid and took the back way through some crazy scenic ranch land. This route is basically a very long bypass to the west of Madrid. To get back out of the flat lands we would have to climb another steep long rocky hill that had tripped Kerry up a few weeks back. I know she was freaking out quietly inside her helmet the entire time we were out there. We didn't stop for many photo ops but this sign is so cool I had to get a picture:

When we got to "the hill" that she had been stressing over for the past 10 miles Kerry picked a line, hung on tight, and kept her speed up. In fact she didn't stop until she got all the way back out to highway 14 again. She's coming along nicely considering she has only been riding since January. I think she's almost ready for that 10 day trip to Moab via dirt to get ice cream were planning in July.

gregdee screwed with this post 05-13-2012 at 09:44 PM
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Old 05-13-2012, 10:39 PM   #2
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Joined: Aug 2011
Location: St. George, UT
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Nice job to Kerry gettin' up the hill!

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Old 05-14-2012, 06:11 PM   #3
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Joined: Apr 2009
Location: Out in the NM Dez somewhere
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I think I was one of the "studly folks" doing this ride a few weeks ago, looks like you had nicer weather

Nice pics and thanks for the RR
"Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but to rather skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting ... Holy Shit, what a ride!"
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Old 05-14-2012, 07:57 PM   #4
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Joined: Apr 2010
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico, Rocky Mountains, USA
Oddometer: 113
La Bajada Village, Caja del Rio and Madrid dirt

Looks like you have been riding in my neighborhood. Those rides are all right out my front door. I think Kerry is doing fantastic for a new rider. Moab will be a treat for you both. Enjoy it together!
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Old 05-15-2012, 04:38 AM   #5
gregdee OP
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Joined: Oct 2011
Location: Tijeras, NM
Oddometer: 509
Originally Posted by RideFreak View Post
I think I was one of the "studly folks" doing this ride a few weeks ago, looks like you had nicer weather
Yup, it was your RR that gave me the idea that there was another way across between 14 and I-25. Thanks for the inspiration. Weather was just right, and a heck of a lot nicer than when your crew did this.
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