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Moving to New Mexico, Questions

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Moving to New Mexico, Questions

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Old 12-21-14, 06:10 PM
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david58
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Moving to New Mexico, Questions

For lots of reasons (mostly work-related), I have been almost totally off my bike for a year. The work part seems to be getting solved, with a move to the Los Alamos area being worked on. I actually might be able to ride again!

What is riding in rural Northern New Mexico like? Any recommendations? Any things I should know or plan for? Will live about an hour out of Albuquerque, about the same or a bit more from Santa Fe, we hope.

I love to ride on the road, though a mountain bike might be in the offing. Since I commuted on my cyclocross bike, I will be able to reconvert it to off road, and can start out that way. But I love the longer road tours - centuries, etc - so I will want to be able to get the saddle time in to toughen my butt for the long road days.

Anything you might know will be appreciated - asking here rather than on the road forum, since I am of "that" age range.

David
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Old 12-21-14, 07:45 PM
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I don't know New Mexico riding but it should have great riding all year long. If no one here responds maybe just google it.
Anyway good luck.

Charlie
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Old 12-21-14, 10:28 PM
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Thirty years ago, I rode to NM with a cycling friend who was going there to attend school. He stuck around for a few years after he finished his education and then moved to Portland sometime in the mid-90s. When he got to Portland, he gave up cycling because, compared to NM PDX sucked.

Things have no doubt changed since then, but it's likely still better than Linn County. Good luck with the move.
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Old 12-21-14, 11:11 PM
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Beware the goatheads, they're ride enders.
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Old 12-22-14, 07:13 AM
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I had my first three chances to ride (road bike) in New Mexico this past year, so I'm far from an expert and take it with a grain of salt.

Northern NM has some pretty epic climbing. Los Alamos itself is a good slog from both the east and the south access highways. Taos has some flatter but windy rides to the west and great climbs to the east and north. The two rides I did in Albuquerque were pretty flat but not too scenic--there's a lot of city there.

In every case, I found the roads and trails to be fair, not exceptional, and some of the mountain highways sported some fast traffic with little or no shoulder. The drivers seemed polite and savvy though. Most of the rides were early morning to avoid the heat of the coming day, and I seldom saw another cyclist. Maybe they are tougher than me and ride at high noon.

On a bright note, I rode some of Colorado's Triple Bypass (120 miles, 11k ft. climbing) with a NM based group I met on the first climb. They were all super friendly and fun.
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Old 12-22-14, 07:45 AM
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You all are encouraging me, and some info I have dug up on the interweb indicates that I might be able to do some, if not all, the riding I like to do. Off-road will have to step in, but with the hiking and hunting I will get to do I will get other outdoor exercise, too. Funny, don't mind riding in the rain, love riding in the farm country, love to climb. So I move to a place where I can ride dry, see beautiful country, and climb myself to a frazzle, and I worry about it. Go figure….
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Old 12-22-14, 08:51 AM
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Originally Posted by david58 View Post
For lots of reasons (mostly work-related), I have been almost totally off my bike for a year. The work part seems to be getting solved, with a move to the Los Alamos area being worked on. I actually might be able to ride again!

What is riding in rural Northern New Mexico like? Any recommendations? Any things I should know or plan for? Will live about an hour out of Albuquerque, about the same or a bit more from Santa Fe, we hope.

I love to ride on the road, though a mountain bike might be in the offing. Since I commuted on my cyclocross bike, I will be able to reconvert it to off road, and can start out that way. But I love the longer road tours - centuries, etc - so I will want to be able to get the saddle time in to toughen my butt for the long road days.

Anything you might know will be appreciated - asking here rather than on the road forum, since I am of "that" age range.

David
1st question: If you are going to work in Los Alamos, are you going to be looking to live in the LA area ?, White Rock, etc... or "down the hill" as they call it ?, which is the Espanola/Pojaque area, or further south in the SF area ?. You comment "an hour north of Albuquerque" with an hour north being south Santa Fe. Living there makes for a long commute up to LA, 40-50 miles one-way. Where you end living changes somewhat the advice people (and I) give.

In general, Santa Fe (and LA) is cold in the winter. I've seen it get to 8 degrees F in the winter and days can be in the 20's early, warming to 50. Summers are not that hot, mid 90's typically and it's tolerable as it's dry. The 7,000 ft altitude takes some getting used to and all hill rides will suck for a while. I've known a lot of locals, if they desire a road ride in the winter to drive down the interstate toward ABQ until they are lower down where it's warmer. The result of the cold is occasional snow that will melt and that makes for a messy mt. bike ride, so only an option if it stays cold or you get out early.

I lived in the SF area for 10 summers (wife was working at the Opera) and did extensive road and mt. biking from ABQ in the south to Taos in the north, east to LA and west into the Pecos area. The thing about the west is there is not the abundance of road networks to allow a huge variety of routes. If you do a long road ride east out of SF for instance, it's either I25 or Old Las Vegas Hwy. Then I25 to Pecos or Rt285 south for an out and back, literally only 2 roads in the entire area. There are extensive loops to do in the SF metro area as there are more local roads and you can easily do a 40-50 mile "round Santa Fe" loop. The Los Alamos area has essentially one long road loop - Rt 4 and 501. 28 miles around so if you want to go long, you do it twice. You can go down to the Rios Grande and then east or north. From LA you can also go further up the hill and west on Rt 4 but again, it's an out and back. A extremely scenic out and back, mind you as is pretty much all the roads. When I lived in Pojaque, north of SF, I would ride up to Truchas for a hard hill climb. Then it was a screaming downhill with an amazing view across the Rio Grande valley to the Jemez Mountains. It was hard to concentrate on the road as the views were stupendous. Such is New Mexico

As to road or mountain ?. Both. There's just enough roads and road riding to want a road bike. There's also a huge amount of mt. biking in the area, probably a greater variety then road rides. You can ride technical single track in the foothills east of SF, or miles and miles or 2 track/fire roads west of SF in the Caja del Rio. So either a full suspension or a cross bike would be appropriate, or both. The road bike is going to want a triple, as BTW and if you only had one bike, I'd use a cross bike with a triple and 2 sets of wheels, one with 28mm slicks for the chip seal, then a 2nd with cross tires for the dirt roads.

The roads are in generally decent shape, though the highway departments do like to use chip-seal on the more rural roads, which sucks, so a road bike that'll take 28mm tires at 90 psi makes for a more comfortable ride. They also don't spend money on wide shoulders outside of the towns, so you are in the lane a lot, but I never had issues and drivers are very polite (there aren't that many of them).

Hope this helped.

Last edited by Steve B.; 12-22-14 at 09:00 AM.
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Old 12-22-14, 09:18 AM
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New Mexico is an amazing state, and nobody knows it's there.............
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Old 12-22-14, 09:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Wileyrat View Post
Beware the goatheads, they're ride enders.
This. I lived in Clovis NM which is near the Texas boarder back in the '70s. Tires weren't as good at flat protection back then. I used a product called "sticker flickers" or "tire savers". There's some on EBay now. The idea was to pull out the goat head or shard of glass before it had time to push into the tire with each revolution.

Pair 2 Bicycle Research Tire Savers Tubular Road Touring Randonneur NIP Tyre | eBay

I'd highly recommend using something like a Gatorskin tires; maybe using Slime; and/or tire liners.
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Old 12-22-14, 07:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post
1st question: If you are going to work in Los Alamos, are you going to be looking to live in the LA area ?, ... Where you end living changes somewhat the advice people (and I) give.

[snip]

I lived in the SF area for 10 summers (wife was working at the Opera) and did extensive road and mt. biking from ABQ in the south to Taos in the north, east to LA and west into the Pecos area. The thing about the west is there is not the abundance of road networks to allow a huge variety of routes. If you do a long road ride east out of SF for instance, it's either I25 or Old Las Vegas Hwy. Then I25 to Pecos or Rt285 south for an out and back, literally only 2 roads in the entire area. There are extensive loops to do in the SF metro area as there are more local roads and you can easily do a 40-50 mile "round Santa Fe" loop. The Los Alamos area has essentially one long road loop - Rt 4 and 501. 28 miles around so if you want to go long, you do it twice. You can go down to the Rios Grande and then east or north. From LA you can also go further up the hill and west on Rt 4 but again, it's an out and back. A extremely scenic out and back, mind you as is pretty much all the roads. When I lived in Pojaque, north of SF, I would ride up to Truchas for a hard hill climb. Then it was a screaming downhill with an amazing view across the Rio Grande valley to the Jemez Mountains. It was hard to concentrate on the road as the views were stupendous. Such is New Mexico

As to road or mountain ?. Both. There's just enough roads and road riding to want a road bike. There's also a huge amount of mt. biking in the area, probably a greater variety then road rides. You can ride technical single track in the foothills east of SF, or miles and miles or 2 track/fire roads west of SF in the Caja del Rio. So either a full suspension or a cross bike would be appropriate, or both. The road bike is going to want a triple, as BTW and if you only had one bike, I'd use a cross bike with a triple and 2 sets of wheels, one with 28mm slicks for the chip seal, then a 2nd with cross tires for the dirt roads.

The roads are in generally decent shape, though the highway departments do like to use chip-seal on the more rural roads, which sucks, so a road bike that'll take 28mm tires at 90 psi makes for a more comfortable ride. They also don't spend money on wide shoulders outside of the towns, so you are in the lane a lot, but I never had issues and drivers are very polite (there aren't that many of them).

Hope this helped.
Helps a lot. More encouraged the more responses I see.

We hope, HOPE, to live west of LA in the Jemez Springs zip code - 45 min or so from LA, closer if we find the right place. We have dogs that need space, and there just ain't places with acreage in LA. Not interested in anything to the east or south.

If we can get in the Jemez mtns, we have access to lots of mtn roads for riding, and I am seeing that there is some riding close enough to keep my road bike unlimbered. No commute like I used to do, that just simply isn't happening.

Thanks!!!
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Old 12-22-14, 08:21 PM
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Originally Posted by david58 View Post
Helps a lot. More encouraged the more responses I see.

We hope, HOPE, to live west of LA in the Jemez Springs zip code - 45 min or so from LA, closer if we find the right place. We have dogs that need space, and there just ain't places with acreage in LA. Not interested in anything to the east or south.

If we can get in the Jemez mtns, we have access to lots of mtn roads for riding, and I am seeing that there is some riding close enough to keep my road bike unlimbered. No commute like I used to do, that just simply isn't happening.

Thanks!!!
Curious at the thought process as to why the Jemez ?. West of LA the only paved road is Rt 4 and a little bit of Rt 128 thru the Jemez. Just heads up that for road rides you are 18 miles one-way down to Rt 550 and 30 over the hills to Rt 501 at the LA "back gate" as the junction there is called. So you would be needing to get used to riding a lot of Rt 4. Rt 128 is only paved for a bit, then it's dirt down to Cuba. There is however, literally a ton of Nat'l Forest fire roads that are in good shape for cross/gravel grinding, as well as a ton of single track for mt. biking. You could live here the rest of your life and never get bored exploring the area.

But also be aware that Rt 4 just east of the Valley Caldera is up at 8800 ft and gets snow in the winter (they close the road sometimes in bad weather). The road down off the high point to the Rt 501 junction is a crappy and narrow and twisty road that I would not want to do in a snow storm, which is common in this area (this is your commuting route to LA). Lot of accidents on that stretch of road.

If it were me ?, I'm not sure I'd be moving directly to as remote an area as Jemez Springs or this area of the Jemez. It's a beautiful area, don't get me wrong, just a long distance from everything, there are zero services or towns excepting Jemez Springs and the hamlet at the junction of Rt 4 and Rt 128. Can't even think of a food store outside of the local general stores, or pharmacy, etc...

The entire area as well is very, very prone to forest fires currently given the extended drought that has been in place for the past 15 years or so. There have been 2 major fires on the eastern Jemez, one that burned thru parts of Los Alamos a few years back. I would make this a factor in living in an area where the (very dry) woods are 30 ft out the front door and where there are campgrounds and a lot of cabins and folks in the woods.

I can recommend the area south of Espanola or in the Pojoaque/Nambe area, there's plenty of places to rent until you get a feel for the area before you might want to buy and it's not too far up to Los Alamos.

Just some thoughts.

SB

Last edited by Steve B.; 12-22-14 at 08:41 PM.
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Old 12-23-14, 07:47 AM
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Thanks for the PM answers, Steve B.

Looks like this is going to be an adventure. Very much looking forward to launching this one.

David
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Old 12-24-14, 12:02 PM
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i lived in White Rock and worked in LA years ago. I rode to work year round only missing occasional days due to storms. Winters were always chilly in the morning but uphill which made it bearable. Going home in the afternoon was almost always pleasant. The rest of the year was awesome. I rode and raced also in those years. There's not a huge variety of roads but what is there is great. Lots of climbing. I would steer clear of the Jemez Springs area, it was sort of unfriendly, but that was many years ago, it could be different now. I liked WR a lot, great for riding.
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Old 12-24-14, 12:39 PM
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I'm in Albuquerque, so haven't done much (bicycle) riding in Northern NM -- quite a lot of motorbike riding, however. That means I've stuck to the bigger roads (4, etc) but they're pretty incredible, with fantastic views.

Winters are cold but dry -- there's quite a bit of altitude, and quite a lot of elevation change. Certainly climbing territory. As mentioned, there is snow at high elevations and the accompanying skiing.
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Old 12-24-14, 01:54 PM
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Beware the goatheads, they're ride enders.
Yes A Thorny situation . no place for Silk Tubulars..
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Old 12-24-14, 04:22 PM
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There is crazy good mtn biking in the area. Road riding is ho hum. You'll need to get acclimated to be able to handle the high altitudes on the mountains but that will come. I'd strongly suggest going tubeless for both road and mtn bikes. I recently spent time road biking in the area and my bike would get home with one or two goathead thorns in the tire that I had not even noticed. You can use super thick tubes with goo in them or any other combination of solutions to cut down on punctures but my best advice is 1) never leave the road - at all 2) keep an eye out for thorns in road cracks 3) go tubeless. It may mean a new set of wheels but if you can afford it, it will be worth it.
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