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Riding High on the NM Turquoise Trail

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A morning ride down Bonanza Creek Rd.

A morning ride down Bonanza Creek Rd.

Cycling historic mining and mountain routes from our “Vel’auberge”

When Leslie and I envisioned a place where our friends and guests could melt away the stresses of social change work, cycling featured prominently. We pictured back roads, rolling hills, rigorous climbs leading to zooming descents, and of course stunning, sunny views throughout.

It seems like we hit the jackpot. Right out our door sits Bonanza Creek Road, a 7-mile stretch of gently rolling hills that cuts through BLM land and snakes past grazing cattle, the old Tiffany turquoise mine and the Bonanza Creek Movie Ranch, where a diversity of flicks from Easy Rider to Cowboys and Aliens was filmed.

A few hundred yards down the street lies the Turquoise Trail, a historic scenic byway that runs from Santa Fe to the foothills just east of Albuquerque through some of the state’s oldest mining towns. The annual Santa Fe Century, with its 100-, 50- and 25-mile routes, travels most of the length of the Trail (this year, it’s on May 19th – details at santafecentury.com).

The view along the Turquoise trail to the Sangre de Cristo beyond Santa Fe

The view along the Turquoise trail to the Sangre de Cristo beyond Santa Fe

We love climbing past Cerrillos, the lightly-repopulated ghost town that was once considered for the state’s capital, through Madrid, historic mining town reborn as a funky artsy enclave, and into the thigh-burning climbs of the Ortiz mountains. Last Sunday we enjoyed this ride, stopped to take some pictures of the gorgeous views, and turned around to zoom back to Madrid on a high-speed (I clocked 42.5 mph), high-adrenaline descent.

Incidentally, mining and cycling are somewhat related. When the Tour de France was founded in 1903, many of the racers in the early years were tough men for whom the prize money from the grueling sport was a potential ticket out of even more grueling mines or factories.

Perhaps our favorite ride here is down the Camino de los Abuelos. This road connects the Turquoise Trail to the historic town of Galisteo, a very old, very quaint little village full of art studios and a classic old-west cemetery. The 25-mile round-trip route climbs through 1500 vertical feet of rolling hills with gorgeous views of mountains and mesas on all sides. It also crosses the Southwest Chief rail line that still connects Los Angeles to Chicago along much the same path as the old Route 66 once did.

Cemetery at Galisteo with the Ortiz mts in the distance

Cemetery at Galisteo with the Ortiz mts in the distance

We hope our friends (and future friends) who share our passion for the sport will join us on these great roads. One last teaser: this year on Bastille Day (July 14 for the non-Francophiles) the Tour de France will be ending a grinding 242-km stage with a summit finish on the famous Mt. Ventoux, a brutal and beautiful climb that Leslie and I were lucky enough to do some years back. We’ll be watching, cheering and toasting here at the ranch. Where will you be?

 

The desolate beauty of Mt. Ventoux - "Giant of Provence"

The eerie and desolate beauty of Mt. Ventoux – “Giant of Provence”

Posted by Mitch Ackerman

 

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