Thursday, January 23, 2014

New Mexico Sacramento Mountains and White Sands

The month of December in New Mexico was truly a memorable one. After leaving the mid west (Nebraska) the end of November to escape the cold winter, it followed us all the way to New Mexico. Wind and cold in Kansas, to a freakish snow storm in Amarillo Texas. Didn't get any rides in those 2 states, but did get a few runs in. We were trying to escape the cold as fast as we could. We verily escaped the heavy snow and ice in Amarillo, leaving the morning of the storm arriving. It looked like Moses parting the Red Sea...

Finally arrived in New Mexico, looking forward to the mountain rides in the area. Its a mecca of bike riding opportunities. Most locals are mountain bikers, so tough to find any parts or supplies for road bikes. I mostly rode my XC bike for the month I was there due to  the goat heads and sharp rocks on the road. Lots of gravel roads and arroyos in the area.  1stride was to get to know the area, lots of Pistachio Groves.

Next ride was to head up into the foothills and was really looking for a gravel route to the top to Cloudcroft, NM. This is an epic ride on the pavement from Alamogordo to Cloudcroft, 5000+ ft elevation gain in 16 miles.. Definitely a ride to put on your bucket list. No shoulders, so little scary with cars, but worth it. Check out the gradient sign behind me! They closed this road earlier in the am and later in the afternoon. Had a small window to get up there. I was ready for a beer afterwards!
The gravel routes I found up the backside to Cloudcroft were available, just a little longer and ran into snow! Here's a great pic of crossing an arroyo in the foothills. There are a lot of these!

I ended up meeting a new cycling buddy Dave, who's a triathlete, at a fun run race in Alamogordo. He lived about half way up the mountain to Cloudcroft, and graciously offered to take me on a ride. This ride was from Cloudcroft along Sunspot Hwy to Sacramento Peak upper Air RSRV, a space observatory.  This is a rolling paved road across the top of the Mtn peaks, from 8800 ft to 10,000 ft. This was a very beautiful ride. Rolling hills, great climbs, and some beautiful views of the valley. You can probably see a 100 miles in each direction.
After all those views, next ride on the bucket list was to Whitesands, NM. Many notable features of this location. Whitesands is sand that's blown off a lake to the east of the Western Mountains. Its said that the high alkaline from the mountains formed this sand. This massive sand dune moves about 6 inches a year to the east. Its actually so fine and white, its like snow. The plow the roads like a snowstorm weekly. You for sure need to wear your sunglasses in here. Many notables about this dune is its home to White Sands Missile Base, much of the filming for the movie "Transformers" was filmed here! Its about a 15 mile ride from Alamogordo, then when you reach the park, its a 16 mile loop. A lot of people come out here with there snow sleds and sled down the dunes! Dave went with on this ride, pretty flat, but very memorable ride.



I had many more rides and running/hiking journeys while in New Mexico. Hiking trails right out of your back yard. Great place to go.

I would come back at a different month though as a little chilly still in the mornings, so maybe spring and fall would be the best times. What an adventure, running and bicycling the US. I will post again the end of this month or beginning of next from the great state of Arizona!


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