After a moderate ascent leaving Santa Fe, our route tricked me with 10 miles of downhill swoop and flat. But after leaving the frontage road and entering the Pueblo of Pojoaque, the road began to twist as the terrain undulated beneath us.
Soon after, we rode our first surprise gravel section of our tour, followed by the first surprise creek crossing.
Today’s ride was an evolution of green. The further away from Santa Fe, the more greenery around us. It was still dry as all get out for much of the day, but definitely more lush than what we covered yesterday.
We passed through Chimayo where El Santuario draws the tourists. I bought some hefty banana bread there from a local vendor and we pedaled on via the “High Road to Taos.” For starters, that meant climb 2,000 feet over 13 miles.
“This ride is not for wimps,” I told Felkerino as I dug in my heels. As a dabbler in wimpiness, I felt qualified to comment.
Surprise gravel and creek crossings can be done by wimps. A wimp can purchase banana bread. But condensed climbing like that is simply not for wimps.
We eventually reached our summit, though, and rolled along the choppy ridge line for what seemed a long time, but was really only five miles. It took concentration and effort, both of which the banana bread helped me unlock.
I don’t see many people on these side roads. Along the High Road to Taos, we saw a car here and there, but little traffic overall. That is wonderful, as it allows for a more serene ride experience, and my fingers are crossed that it continues such.
On our last extended climb for the day – before a spectacular 13-mile descent into Taos – we also came within shouting distance of a juvenile bear. We didn’t shout, and instead paused to assess the situation. The bear took no notice of us, and I looked around for any sign of a mama bear. I saw none.
A car approached from the opposite direction and the bear hastily crossed the road and lumbered off into the woods. No more bear, and we continued on our way. It’s exciting to see wildlife, but I always keep in mind the “wild” part. It’s good to be a wimp in these types of situations, I’d say.
After reaching the last summit – these summits don’t seem to have names here – we stopped to be true tourists and take a bunch of photos. I was really into this part of our ride.
We then swooped into town, and I washed my clothes in the hotel sink and squeezed-dried them in the hotel towels. The glamour of bike touring!
76 miles and 5,500 feet for the day. And now, time for more banana bread and some dinner.