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  1. #1
    Rohloff
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    Planning a New Mexico Trip

    I'm planning a 9 day trip to New Mexico over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. I plan to go into NM from El Paso and slowly work my way North towards Durango, but there's nothing certain about that. I'd like to car camp a night or two near some trails, move up the road, clean up in a hotel one night near some trails and then repeat. I'll be taking my girlfriend and two dogs. I like scenic cross country trails. I'm looking for advice on trails and places to stay.

  2. #2
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    Fair warning ...

    The Albuquerque area invariably experiences a rapid and dramatic shift toward winter weather at some point between T'giving and the end of the first week of December. Although short in duration, this period is very often representative of the coldest winter weather to come. I'm sure points north are similarly affected. Don't be misled by mild weather leading up to T'giving. Plan and pack accordingly, and try to include some relatively warm/low-elevation plan B's in case you find yourself trying to live/play outdoors in the thick of it. As you no doubt know, it'll only get colder the closer you get to the 4 Corners.

  3. #3
    Rohloff
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    Thanks for the heads up. I've spent the last two Thanksgivings camping at Big Bend's Chisos Basin (5400 ft.) and South Rim (7000 ft.), Guadalupe Mountain's Pine Springs (5800 ft.) and Dog Canyon (6300 ft.), and one night at a site near Cloudcroft (8600 ft.). Most of those nights were down in the 20's and 30's. We're good with cold nights as long as we have some nice days.

    Of course we realize that NM is a little farther North and some of the places we may be looking at are at higher elevations. That's why we were looking for advice on some good destinations. The MTBR trail review site lists 105 trails. We were hoping to shorten the list to a hand full of scenic cross country trails, some with good camping. We're most interested in some out of the way places. We don't require any facilities and we'd rather avoid busy camping sites if possible. Every couple of days we'll make our way to a town with a hotel and some good nearby riding, then move on to the next spot.

  4. #4
    Hey, wait up!
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    As you head north from El Paso, Las Cruces has some nice desert XC riding just off from the I-25. And you can car camp for free at the trailhead (BLM property).

  5. #5
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    Weather permitting, and since you're headed that way, consider the Gallup area. Between the High Desert Trail just north of Gallup, Red Rocks, etc., you'll not only find scenic XC, but also very reasonably priced lodging in Gallup and plenty of solitude outside of town when you want it. I gotta think that a lot of northern NM's sweet stuff will be in danger of snow cover by then, but I'm sure the locals have a better handle on the odds of that. Of course, Alb's various Manzano mountain trails are likely to be rideable and certainly worthy of consideration. White Mesa, also on the way to 4 corners, but just NW of Alb, is also a favorite of many when other trails are unavailable due to weather.

  6. #6
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    Normally, we get our first REAL snowfall just around that time of year in the Jemez Mtns. Like Garson said, winter begins kinda suddenly around that time. Even if only little storms come through before then, the snow is unlikely to melt out completely in the trees at higher elevations, canyons bottoms and north facing slopes... that means mud during the day at best. UNLESS northern NM is snow free up until then (which seems to happen every couple of years) it might be worth checking up with locals right up to he dates you are travelling. If it is a dry winter, you could definitely find some great riding around Los Alamos and there are many frequenters of this forum who will give you recommendations.

    I, for one, have already made plans for that same weekend in the southern part of the state. The riding around Las Cruces/Doņa Ana Mtns is really good that time of year and the restaurants still have loads of chile from the harvest...A dinner at Chope's Bar and Cafe (with 40's of Tecate) after a good ride is hard to beat.

    Albuquerque has great riding too, if the Autumn has been dry. Cedro Peak and Otero Canyon are excellent, especially if you can get someone to show you around.

    Finally, White Mesa is not to be missed and is a good late fall destination.

    Enjoy!
    there can be only one... track

  7. #7
    Rohloff
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    I appreciate the input. I'll be watching the NM weather this Fall. I'm from Austin, Texas so it's either wet or dry. Almost no snow to worry about. I can imagine how a slowly melting early season snow could muck things up for a while.

    Depending on the weather, I may be lingering in Southern NM. What trails do you recommend?

    Ohh, green chiles! They're still haunting me from my trip to Santa Fe. I love to eat them but I'm missing some enzyme that processes chiles through the system. They get stuck and catch fire on the way out. Ouch!

    White Mesa has come up on my search a few times. I'm sure I'll be checking it out, weather permiting

  8. #8
    Rohloff
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    Quote Originally Posted by LCdaveH
    As you head north from El Paso, Las Cruces has some nice desert XC riding just off from the I-25. And you can car camp for free at the trailhead (BLM property).
    Do you have a trail name or location?

  9. #9
    saddlemeat
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    Gallup/Zuni Mts can be great that time of year...

    or not.

    The High Desert Trail will most likely be great as it's much lower (6500' vs 75-8500').

    The Zuni Mts trails could be under snow or really great.

    Give a shout at later and I'll fill you in.
    A Useful Bear is a handy thing.

  10. #10
    mtbr member
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    Socorro has some great desert trail, and the Magdalenas and San Mateos offer some great pines if the snow isn't in. Even if there is snow up high (9,000 plus) the lower trails in the Maggies usually stay snow free most of the year.

    Give me a shout when you are closer.

    S
    If we want this sport to be a success, we need more categories. That way everyone can have a medal.

  11. #11
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    Dona Anas

    Quote Originally Posted by bsdc
    Do you have a trail name or location?
    Dona Ana hills are north of Las Cruces. There is a thread with a map. I haven't been there, yet, but a Las Cruces local recommended it to me. If not too cold, Cloudcroft has the Rim Trail and High Altitude Race Course.
    I'm from Tucson and TucsonMTB is discussing a autumn bike fest around that time.
    agmtb

  12. #12
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    Daily Rides

    How long (miles) and at what speed do you believe you will be riding at each day?
    Have you ridden at altitude recently (8-10K+)?
    Will you be riding full suspension bikes?
    Will the dogs be running beside you on the trail?

    The reason I ask this is to gauge the trails that would best suite you in NM. If you are a flatlander or havent been spinning and you plan on riding 20+ miles in a day at altitude, then you may not make finish the ride on a happy note...or if you plan on taking the dogs along on some of the trails beware of sharp rocks/cactus/goatheads they can be harsh on their paws.
    White Mesa is a nice place to XC ride but if the wind is blowing mildly in Alq it is blowing harder out there and it will SUCK besides the ride/circut is only 8+ miles anyway...you could combine it with Red Mesa which is right across the hiway for more XC in the same area...options are good.
    I agree Otero/Cedro/Faulty/10K are outstanding trails in the immediate Alq vicinity and you will find many enjoyable moments riding some great technical, spinning, climbing, and descending trails. The same applies to the Santa Fe areas...although the winter weather will impact your ride more.
    If you need a local guide that knows the area there are several people that go to these areas regularly they will be glad to take you for free.

  13. #13
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    Where is Red Mesa. I go out to White Mesa all of the time as it is close to my house and a fairly short ride. This is the first mention of Red Mesa I have ever seen. Any details would be appreciated.

  14. #14
    Mythical Creature
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    Quote Originally Posted by Twindad
    Where is Red Mesa. I go out to White Mesa all of the time as it is close to my house and a fairly short ride. This is the first mention of Red Mesa I have ever seen. Any details would be appreciated.
    Right across the road from White Mesa.
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  15. #15
    Rohloff
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    Good questions. I live in Austin, Texas (~1000 ft.) I'm not a flat lander as we have lots of hills, but we don't have many long sustained climbs. I usually ride rough singletrack for an hour or two. It's hard for me to judge my speed because I've been stopping a lot this Summer to rest from the heat and to get my dog some water. Part of my interest in visiting NM is to find some longer trail although I'm happy as can be doing multiple loops on a good trail. I plan on mixing in some short hour trips and would love to find a day long excursions.

    I haven't ridden at altitude in a long time. My last trip at altitude was The Flume Trail in Lake Tahoe a couple of years ago. I think it's about 14 miles at about 8500 ft. I had a blast despite a throbbing altitude headache the whole time and managed to easily complete it in a short half day while being totally out of shape. I'm not in great shape but I've got stamina and determination. 20+ in a day should be no problem if I've got enough food and water.

    I ride a full suspension Gary Fisher HiFi 29 with 4 inches of travel front and rear. I'm a slow climber and a cautious descender with reasonable skills. I don't huck or launch down anything that places my butt too far above my head. I've got to use my body for work when I return from vacation. No sick leave or coasting at a desk for me if I get hurt.

    I'd love to take my dogs. I've got two pointers. One has a bad knee and might go on short trips. The other is a running fool. He regularly runs 14+ miles with me and could easily run more. His only limit is heat and water. His feet are tough from years of running over sharp rocks, I'm use to picking cactus needles out of his hide, but I'm not too sure about goatheads. That's new to us. Any tips on dogs and goatheads would be appreciated.

    Thanks everyone for your input. I understand that weather is going to be a BIG factor. I'll be checking back with the group in Mid-November to see how things are looking.

  16. #16
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    goatheads

    There is only 2 ways to protect yourself. Move to cold Canada where they don't grow or learn what the plant looks like and avoid them. I was a landscaper and don't have much problem with them although they are very common here and they're almost everywhere in the west. Been at war with them for decades pulling them whenever I encounter them, espically in my neighborhood.
    Kill the goatheads and throw the seedy plants in the trash.
    Worst trail for goatheads, Foothills trail, Albuquerque.
    Also have a pointer that I take on many rides, great trail dogs, they always keep an eye on their owners and point out animals.
    agmtb

  17. #17
    mtbr member
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    Planning

    Sounds like you know what you want.
    Goat heads are round seeds with several thorns that hurt like hell! They can puncture the thickest tires/tubes in seconds. You know your dogs best so that will be your call. Some trails are not dog friendly (most are) we can hook you up when the time comes.
    The 20+ days are fun...BRING FOOD and WATER and BEER/TAKILLIA.
    Some of the rides are 5-9 miles uphill to 11K then returning through some great DH/AM ST all the way down. Bring warm riding gear!!!
    Start practicinggoing over ledges, drops, logs, loose (shoe box size) rocky terrain. technical switchbacks with exposure (300 ft drops)...when your ready to visit NM gives us a call. Gauranteed FUN....the worst thing that can happen is a foothils ride...very similiar to Texas
    BTW
    The GF29 will work great Im riding a Rip 9 Niner...it has its moments in the steep stuff....but makes up for it on the descents....You will use all the suspension if you ride like you stole it.

  18. #18
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    Hey dude,

    Hit me up when you get into ABQ. There are plenty of scenic XC rides to be had. The best trail in town is one mile from my house with excellent scenery for miles. It's kinda like City Park in Austin with less trees and more spread out trails. There are the E. Mtns which may or may not be rideable and there's White Mesa which is on the way to Durango and is like a mini moab/Grand Canyon.

    Send me your contact info and we'll see what we can work out.

    steven_hile@hotmail.com
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  19. #19
    Rohloff
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    So how do your pointers do with the goatheads? Mine is 6 years old and has some pretty tough pads. Is that going to protect him or is he going to have some painful lessons to learn before he figures out what they look like?

    I'll be sure and kill a few goatheads for the team!

  20. #20
    Rohloff
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    So what's the best way to protect my tires from the goatheads? I understand that staying on the trail and keeping your eyes out for them will help but it would seem to be inevitable that you'll hit one. Should I use Slime tubes, run a protective tire liner, go tubeless or something else?

    Practice going over ledges, drops, etc? Why? I don't think I need to practice getting off my bike and walking! Maybe I wasn't clear when I said I was a cautious descender. That means I'm scared, afraid, chicken, _______. You fill in the blank. The only thing I'm going to steal on those hairy descents is a new pair of underwear.

  21. #21
    Rohloff
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    I'll be sure and contact you and everyone else when I start nailing down my plans. I'm all for meeting up and being the joke of the group as you watch this low-lander suck on that thin mountain air on the climbs and lock up and fall over as I approach the downhill obstacles. It should be a real hoot!

  22. #22
    Thread Pollution
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    The safe way

    In case you run into any local claiming he's a bandolero while riding the trails in Abq.,you'll need this . May want t add the button in case you have to go...
    Attached Images Attached Images

  23. #23
    mtbr member
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    Everyones a comedian!

  24. #24
    Bandolero
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    wrong color

    Quote Originally Posted by makachut
    In case you run into any local claiming he's a bandolero while riding the trails in Abq.,you'll need this . May want t add the button in case you have to go...
    Bandolero's use a metallic thread that corresponds with their bike frame.


    As for buttons, the current fad is to use one of these:


    4 more days to register in NM.
    See the trails, be one with FOO-MTB.
    Slow-core. -.. .-. .. -. -.- .... --- -- . -... .-. . .--

  25. #25
    Rohloff
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    Well, the trip is on and I'm heading to NM tonight. I'm hoping to have breakfast in Las Cruces. From what I can see the weather has been pretty dry and the temperatures aren't too cold. Any advice on trails to avoid and places not to camp this time of year?

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