Top of Boreas Pass or “Laborious Pass” as it shall now be remembered.
Something I forgot to write about last year was our 8-day bikepacking trip to Albuquerque. It was certainly memorable and worth sharing, not sure how it slipped my mind. My mom lives in Albuquerque and I thought it would be neat to ride there from Steamboat, stay a few days, and fly back.
I love New Mexico. It seems relatively undiscovered as a tourist destination – and bike tourist destination for that matter. Cyclists flock to places like Arizona or southern Utah – and I love those places too, but New Mexico has just as much to offer. There are tons of riding options and tons of other cool things to do and see.
Route planning was relatively easy because the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route runs from our home in Steamboat all the way down to Abiquiu, Northern New Mexico. From there we would veer off the GDMBR and find our way to Albuquerque via other dirt and paved roads.
I rode the Hannimal with two rear panniers, a small frame bag, top tube bag, and a small camelback. Brad’s bike situation was limited due to his hardtail MTB being loaned out as a demo and his gravel rig doesn’t fit big enough tires for this route. The next best option was a Fatbike, set up with 2.6” tires. Brad carried 2 rear panniers, 2 front panniers, a frame bag, and top tube bag. Needless to say, we were going more for comfort on this trip rather than speed, that seems to be our trend in bikepacking lately 😆
I thought 8 days would be a comfortable pace to complete the 700 miles and have some spare time to check out some sights and cool towns. We decided to get a head start on Friday after work, so we left around 3 pm, rode about 50 miles, turning the trip into 9 days.
Links to Strava routes:
DAY 1: 48 mi – 3650’ 4 hrs Steamboat to the camp spot
DAY 2: 93mi -7500’ 8 hrs Camp spot to Silverthorne
DAY 3 108 mi – 6300 – 11 hrs Silverthorne to Salida – the day of the WIND
DAY 4: 90 mi – 6700’ – 8 hrs Salida to camp spot
DAY 5: 63 mi – 3200 ft. 5 hrs – Camp spot to Del Norte
DAY 6: 64mi – 6400” 6.5 hrs – Del Norte to cabin
DAY 7: 130mi – 6400’ 11.5 hrs – Cabin to Abiquiu
DAY 8: 44 mi – 2250’ 3 hrs – Abiquiu to Alamosa via Paved roads
DAY 9: 52 mi – 4000’ 4.25hrs Tribal land detour day – to Jemez Springs where Mom picked us up
A few miles outside of Del Norte, CO where we ate at the Three Barrel Brewery A+
Overall this was a great trip. Considering the journey was fairly long, I had the opportunity to go through some good days, mediocre days, and super hard days – physically & mentally. Which brings me back to Rookie Bikepacking Lesson Number 7.
Rookie Lesson Number 7 – Bike packing is unpredictable. I now realize this can be elaborated on much more than I did in the previous post. Of course, external things like weather, gear, mechanical things, route finding, you get a certain amount of control and preparedness over. Beyond that, some things are out of your control. The thing I neglected to write (and think) about is the unpredictability of how you feel, physically and mentally. From the darkest depths of a bonk to relentless 30mph headwinds for 8 hours straight, to the clearest blue skies while twisting and turning down 10,000ft mountain passes, straight to the best cinnamon roll you’ve ever tasted, It’s guaranteed these feelings will come and go. Sometimes too quickly, sometimes not quick enough. The important thing is not to let those current feelings dictate your plans for that day or the next, because they will likely change, and sometimes in the most surprising ways.
Old little cabin we stayed in near Platoro, CO.
A stop along the route worth mentioning is Los Alamos, NM. It was our last stop before reaching Albuquerque. I’ve wanted to visit this place for a while and i’m glad we made it part of the route. What a weird place. It’s the home of The Los Alamos National Laboratory which employs 10,000 people. It’s where the Atomic bomb was developed and the planning and testing for The Manhattan Project during WWII. After being there for a mere 20 hours, it was clear that most people are there to work, and not much else. However, there are still a ton of recreational opportunities around the area, even a small ski area (I wouldn’t call it a resort). There are a couple of neat museums and historical remnants in town but it was basically void of any traditional New Mexican culture which was odd. An interesting piece of trivia – Los Alamos has the highest concentration of millionaires than any other city or town in the US. Certainly, a unique place, especially if you’re interested in Science, or nuclear weapons, or millionaires.
Our Camp spot at 10,000ft one night. The ultra-light Big Agnes Fly Creek tent and a couple of 20º down bags made the colder nights comfier.
On our last day, Los Alamos to Albuquerque we had a little route snafu. We were looking forward to an easy 80-mile day, mostly descending and barely any pavement. Google maps listed a great bike route, bypassing highways and utilizing Forest service roads through Cochiti Lake, San Felipe Pueblo, and Santa Ana Pueblo. Going back to Rookie Lesson number 4 , I double checked the route by looking at a couple satellite images to make sure the dirt roads were actually there. They were there and looked rideable! Great. 20 miles in we learned that Google maps doesn’t take into account Tribal Land closures. After a fairly steep descent, we came to a no trespassing and Tribal Land closure sign. We didn’t want to take a risk on the last day, and more importantly didn’t want to show disrespect by riding through the closure and pretending not to see it. The Tribe would have the right to arrest us if we were to continue. I have no idea what the repercussions are of trespassing on Tribal land. Maybe it would have been fine, maybe not, maybe it depends on the tribe. I wasn’t willing to find out, so we decided to turn around, climb back up, and take the highway down to Jemez Springs where Mom picked us up so we wouldn’t have to ride the Interstate into Albuquerque. We also got to soak in the best hot springs ever upon arrival in Jemez. It would have been super cool to see Cochiti Lake and ride dirt roads all the way to the Q, but it sure was a nice ending to soak in Jemez Hot Springs. Also, highway 4 through Valles Caldera National Preserve is a very beautiful ride with not much traffic, so it turned out to be an OK detour.
These hot springs in Jemez Springs were off the beaten path for sure! Nothing like the crowded hot springs we’re used to in Colorado. For the most part, we had the place to ourselves. A++
Top tube & frame bags by Oveja Negra
Panniers by Ortlieb
Big Agnes Hitchens UL and Skeeter SL down bags
Big Agnes Fly Creek UL 2 person tent
Jet Boil Micro Cook System
Garmin Edge 1030 for navigation
Klic HV – Crank Brothers Hand pump, spare tubes & flat repair, tools & spare der hanger, chain pieces, etc.
Lezyne Zecto Max rear tail light plus Topeak Tail lux.
Clothes and layers included Big Agnes down puffy jackets, Rain pants, and jackets, Smartwool long undies, Velocio bibs for me, Pactimo for Brad, wind jackets, heavy and light gloves, hats, shoe covers (Brad forgot his and let me tell you how sad he was during the 20º morning starts). We also packed various backpackers pantry meals, miso soup, tea, oats, a jar of peanut butter, and a pack of whole wheat tortillas. For the most part, there were plenty of places to restock on food & beverages along the route.
Feel free to reach out if you have any questions about routes, gear, or anything else.
Until next time!