Cycling to the Santa Fe Ski Basin

Cycling to the Santa Fe Ski Basin

I’ve been coming up short on my promise to deliver ride reports from 2018, it’s a new year and time to get back in the groove. Last time I covered my bucket list ride up the Sandia Crest outside of Albuquerque, now I have another report from New Mexico this time starting in Santa Fe.

You’ll notice a theme with these rides. I enjoy aiming my bike straight up a mountain and riding as high as I can go. The constant grind and defeat of mental gremlins is something I truly enjoy. For this ride, I set off from my rental on Cerrillos Road and pedaled to the Santa Fe river corridor through the heart of downtown Santa Fe. It’s amazing that just a few thousand feet past the historic art district you can find yourself in undulating foothills and protected mountain watershed.

Turning left up to the steep pitch of Gonzales Rd. I rise up a little mesa ridge above Canada Ancha before dropping down to 475, Hyde Park road.   From there it is one right turn before I’m all set for the climb. Just have to keep pedaling until I hit the Santa Fe Ski Basin at pavement’s end just above 10,300 feet.

Climbing a mountain, whether on foot or bike, will humble you and make you stronger. It’s incredible how a piece of stone jutting out of the ground can make you feel simultaneously weak from the effort yet powerful for conquering its slopes. The drive to climb and conquer is primal. During a long climb, there are glimpses of clarity and magical moments of release from life’s stresses that are unexplainable. It simply must be experienced. Suffering is cleansing. It only lasts a second or two, your over-worked human brain shuts off and the lizard brain takes over, you breathe, you pedal and you simply exist.

I ride on past the Santa Fe Institute following the pavement as it winds up through valleys along mountain spring-fed streams. The speed limit is 45 mph at the bottom section but decreases to 30 mph as the climb kicks up. Being early May I only see a car or two on the way up and one other cyclist. Lacking the impetus to enter the red zone, I take my time and melt into the awesome landscape. Being early spring, the snow is still melting and I can hear the occasional rock break loose and slide down the slopes of the hillsides enveloping the road. It’s quiet enough that I can hear my rhythmic breathing and the gentle woosh of every pedal stroke.

There’s a quick descent to Little Tesuque Creek before the climb begins in earnest. Suddenly the elevation change hits, pinyons become ponderosa with aspens stands scattered amongst them and there are brief glimpses of the valley below.

At Hyde State Park the road gradient juts up. I’ve yet to move to a Froome-esque 11-32 cassette, but I’m thankful for the 28. I find a comfortable cadence and sit in. After a while, the grade eases a bit and I stand up out of the saddle to get a few deep breaths and stretch the legs. I’m rewarded with sturring views across the Rio Grande Valley to the Jemez Mountains.

Near the top of the climb, the clouds are starting to intermingle with the Sangre De Cristo peaks. I stop next to a rushing creek and listen to the sound of water rushing down and hope my descent will be as effortless. A pair of carbon hoops and a beautifully paved road allow me to flow down the mountain too. It’s cool, but the few short upticks keep me plenty warm.

I had a great time exploring Santa Fe on two wheels. I fully understand why the ski basin ride is such a hallowed experience. With family now living in the area, I’ll be back. In fact, the climb is already on my calendar as it’s the penultimate climb of the GFNY Santa Fe. So for 2019, my summit will be in June.