Traveling to Alamagordo 8/10-8/12
Primarily for work but would also like to know about favorite rental shops and trails in the area and whether there are scheduled rides in the area on the evenings of those dates. I typically travel with shoes, pedals, helmet and gloves just in case.
In the interest of adding to the MTBR New Mexico Local Riding Advice thread, I have found shops in Alamogordo and Cloudcroft that both rent bikes. Outdoor Adventures in Alamogordo and High Altitude in Clodcroft are both Specialized dealers with FSR Test fleets.
This particular trip, I stopped into Outdoor Adventures to check out their rental fleet. Unfortunately, they didn't have a large-size frame in the current fleet but Mark had a 2002 (ish) Enduro in the back. He rented it to me for $30/day. My experience with renting new bikes is that they cost $65-80/day. I was relieved to have a bike to ride for so little regardless of the age of the bike. On top of that, he loaned me a tire pump just in case...
High Altitude may have had large-size bikes in their fleet but I determined that it was easier for me to rent and return a bike in the town that I was staying for work. I stopped into High Altitude anyway as Mark had suggested that I ask them about the trail system surrounding High Altitude. Unfortunately by the time I got there on Tuesday evening, they were already closed.
Mark had hand-drawn directions to the trailhead around the corner from High Altitude. Unfortunately, I couldn't find it. Having read some of the trail reviews about area trails, I knew of the Osha and Rim trails and the High Altitude race course. Unfortunately, I found no online resource for maps of those trails but I did see the Osha sign on 82 on my way between Alamagordo and Cloudcroft. Mark was trying to point me to Osha Trail Rd.
After talking to some folks in town (who happened to be looking for the same trailhead to hike). I gave them a map to the railway in the clouds rails to trails conversion project and wished them luck then I turned around and parked at the Osha trailhead on 82.
I had no idea it was named for a plant. I figured that maybe it had been named for occupational hazards in trail building or riding that trail or perhaps for the hazards of working on a railroad in the clouds.
After the couple hundred yards of hike-a-bike up steep terrain and railroad tie waterbars, I knew I was at elevation. My GPS showed me at over 7K'. I opted to shift into granny gear and pedal once the bars ended and was able to ride up to an intersecting fireroad. As I reached it, I started to hear voices of other people and met up with two guys who were out riding. I asked if I could tag along. As is usually the case in the MTB world, strangers on mountain bikes might just as well be family; they said yes.
We rode on some trails that were simply numbered, not named. They were littered with loose baby-head sized rocks, roots and occasionally mud. My strange steed felt somewhat similar to my old Intense Tracer but not completely so. I took it a little slower on downhills than I might have if I was on a familiar bike and took it slightly slower on the uphills than I might have if I was at sea level.
I followed my companions up some fireroads, then down what I think was Bailey Canyon - a meandering and barely technical singletrack through tall grass. The overgrowth obscured the trail in places in the dusk but nevertheless was one of the most fun singletrack trails I've been on in a while. They had parked at the bottom and offered to give me a lift back to my car as it was starting to get darker. I opted to lengthen my ride by chugging back solo. I figured that since I had my GPS, food, water and clothes, I would be OK.
I continued on in the direction of my car in the near dark, following the fireroad up, up and up. It occasionally leveled off and I found the intersection back to Osha. Navigating the trail in the near-pitch-black, I opted to peel off onto the next fireroad intersection. I could now hear cars on 82 and occasionally see the light from their headlights. My earlier companions had suggested that as a worst-case scenario I could take the fireroad I was on out to 82 and ride uphill to where I was parked.
In the near-dark, riding uphill on a highway did not seem like a fun choice. From where I was now, on a different fireroad that was parallel to 82, I opted to continue along on a gentle uphill and see where it took me. I ended up where Mark had tried to send me in the first place - around the corner from High Altitude. From there, I set off down 82, back to my car. In the last bastions of a hell-fire colored sunset, I sped off down the dark highway, keeping my visual focus on the white line at the edge of the road.
Headlights of the oncoming traffic occasionally left me blinded in their absence, taking me a couple of blind seconds to refocus on the white line. Thankfully, through the 1.5 mile downhill, not a single car came from behind. I counted my blessings while changing in the darkenss behind my car from my sweaty bike clothes into more publicly-acceptable clothing for dinner, which included a tall, cold glass of Fat Tire.
Today, during my lunch break the weather looked great and I took a drive up to Cloudcroft again to seek trail advice from the folks at High Altitude. They gave me 2 hand-drawn maps. One is for the "High Altitude Classic Race Course Loop" and the other is for the "Rim Trail." Besides the free hand-drawn maps and friendly trail advice, High Altitude had lots of local trail guides and maps for sale.
As it turned out, I rode most of the race course loop last night and some other trails as well. I wanted to do the Rim Trail as an out and back today from "Slide Camp" on 130. I headed back to work with that expectation.
During work, I kept hearing high wind and lightning advisories and as I headed back out, lightning was visible and thunder was loud. Wind was crazy and looking at the skies, there was rain falling in the periferies. I gave up and returned my bike. Unfortunately, I gave up too soon because 30 minutes later, the weather looked great and I got a phone call from one of my new friends asking if I wanted to join him. I unfortunately had to decline.
After seeing what I saw for a trail system and finding out that there are trails that lead from Alamagordo up to the Cloud-Climbing trail network and even more that lead from Cloudcroft down Hwy 130, I have lots left here to explore and I look forward to it!
Nice report. Glad you had a good time! I have never riddent there, but if I'm ever in the area, I'll be sure to look it up. Thanks for the post/stoke.
Very well written info of the trails mate. I will be heading here round January time frame and look forward to checking out the trails. Thanks!