August Bike Rides on Valles Caldera- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    August Bike Rides on Valles Caldera

    The Valles Caldera National Preserve is holding "Cruise the Caldera" mountain bike fun rides on Saturday and Sunday, August 13 and 14, 2005. This is your last chance of the year to bike on the Preserve.

    On both days, the Preserve is offering a shorter scenic loop along the Valle Grande and into the surrounding forest. Longer rides of approximately 26 miles and 32 miles looping through and around the eastern valles and mountains of the Preserve will be offered on both days.

    This is not a race, and participants can ride at their own pace. All rides are on dirt logging roads and do not require technical skills, although some of the dirt roads are more primitive and have a single-track feel to them. Mountain bikes are a must and helmets are required. Riders cannot deviate from selected routes. The Preserve is located at 8,000 to 10,000 feet, so riders should be prepared for potentially changing weather conditions and for wilderness riding conditions. August is in the monsoon season, so be prepared to finish before possible afternoon storms and lightning, which can be particularly dangerous on the Preserve. Riders should be self-sufficient with enough food and drink to comfortably complete their selected ride. Appropriate layered clothing, repair kits and rain gear are also highly recommended. Routes will be patrolled by volunteers on bikes, who can provide assistance if needed, respond to emergencies, and offer information about the Preserve. Each route will have a refreshment station and a porta-potty.

    Riders may depart anytime between 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. for the shorter ride and between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. for the longer routes. All participants must complete their rides and return to the starting area by 3 p.m. Again, be prepared for afternoon storms and choose a route you can finish in time. Absolutely no off-road riding will be permitted or tolerated. Because preservation is an important aspect of the Preserve, participants must be respectful to the wildlife and the environment and pack out everything they bring in.

    13-Mile Easier Ride

    This 13-mile ride is offered on both Saturday and Sunday. The ride begins at the staging area two miles inside the main gate on the Valle Grande, where you'll park. You'll start riding on this scenic route directly in the heart of the Valle Grande. On your ride along the Valle Grande, you'll cross through the majestic History Grove, a grove of Ponderosa pine trees hundreds of years old. The ride then skirts along the northern edge of the Valle Grande, climbs into the surrounding woods, and finally drops you back into the Valle Grande. This ride includes a 300-foot climb and is considered an easy to moderate ride. The ride is recommended for any ages and was our most popular in 2004. Last year, we had several children and grandparents complete the ride. All riders must check in at the registration desk in order to obtain ID number, sign a liability waiver and safety briefing. Riders may begin their ride anytime between 8 am and 11am.

    26-Mile Intermediate Ride

    This 26-mile loop takes you into the incredibly scenic valles (meadows) on the east side of the Preserve. This ride is offered on both days. The ride begins at Pajarito Ski Area, just 15 minutes outside of Los Alamos, starting with a single-track trail, then dropping into the Preserve. You'll ride through Valle San Antonio, Valle Jaramillo, then through the beautiful Obsidian Valley. The ride in the Preserve is on established roads although they can be primitive in places. You can expect a total altitude gain of up to 2500 feet. A 1200-foot climb comes at the very end of the ride. Try this ride, then sign up for the shorter ride to see the Valles Grande, or give the extreme ride a try the next day for even more views and more miles. All riders must check in at the registration desk in order to obtain ID number, sign a liability waiver and safety briefing. Riders may begin their ride anytime between 8 am and 10 am.

    32-Mile Extreme Ride

    This 32-mile loop is an extension of the intermediate ride, adding an uphill loop around one of the Preserve's mountains. This ride is offered on both days. The ride has been given an extreme designation because of the altitude gain and ride length. With more than 30 miles of riding, you will experience a substantial section of the Preserve. The ride begins at the Pajarito Ski Area, 15 minutes above Los Alamos. You'll start out on a single-track trail, then drop into the Preserve, riding through Valle San Antonio and Valle Jaramillo. You'll climb up 700-foot Abrigo Peak for a loop with spectacular views of the Valle Grande and the surrounding mountains and meadows. The ride is on established roads, although some parts of this ride are on old logging roads with a single-track feel. You can expect a total altitude gain of more than 3000 feet on this ride. A 1200-foot climb comes at the very end of the ride. . All riders must check in at the registration desk in order to obtain ID number, sign a liability waiver and safety briefing. Riders may begin their ride anytime between 8am and 10am.

  2. #2
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    Cool!

    Wow! Only $20 to ride your bike on jeep roads. What a deal!

  3. #3
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    Um

    As a newbie (welcome), I highly suggest that you look at a previous thread regarding the VC and riding.... and if you're involved with the VC at all, help give us some meaningful feedback!

    http://forums.mtbr.com/showthread.php?t=104706
    "It's better to regret something you HAVE done, than something you haven't..." -

  4. #4
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    Here Goes

    Yeah, so I checked out the thread. I'm not sure what "meaningful feedback" means, but I do have some thoughts. First off, I'm not affiliated with the VCNP.

    Second, I can't adequately express how much it chaps my ass that access to the Preserve is so very limited. It also really pisses me off that because of the way it's set up right now, the VCNP is destined to become nothing more than a playground for the rich and privileged (How many regular New Mexicans can routinely afford to shell out a twenty dollar bill or more each time they visit? Elk hunting trips for political fat cats? Sure! Come on in! Cha-ching! You wanna hike? Okay, cough it up! Cha-ching! You wanna bring some kids in? Who's your sponsor and how much are they gonna pay? Oh, sorry, we can't make money off you. Access denied! No cha-ching. No access. Case closed.). Let's face it. It's total BS.

    And all of that ends up giving us this incredibly difficult dilemma: Do you say "f**k those bastards" and do nothing and let the VCNP turn even more into an exclusive club funded at significant taxpayer expense (particularly now that Domenici upped the VCNP's funding by a significant margin), or do you find some little way to try and fight for access? Well, personally, after doing the first option for a couple of years, I realized I was not getting anyone anywhere. So I decided to give the second option a whirl.

    So I found out that some really nice, really hardworking biking enthusiasts were thinking the same thing as me and had worked some deal with the VCNP to get the mountain bike rides. Granted, it's not free and frequent bike access, but it is access, which is a start. Granted, it's not single track, but there does seem to be some interest out there by people in riding even plain old dirt roads since more than 1,000 people have taken advantage of the rides (which I agree, eventually will see a point of diminishing returns because people will get sick of riding plain old dirt roads). But I think these volunteer biking people have a pretty good plan: to get the Preserve staff at least to start thinking about biking (because, let's face it, most of the board and staff are keyed to ranching interests, and without these bike rides, the idea of bike access probably wouldn't cross their minds). These rides have shown that there definitely is interest in riding on the Preserve. And, if nothing else, the rides have provided some real enjoyment for 1,000 people so far (granted, it's not single track and it ain't perfect, but, as Dave said, it is what it is, and I believe that getting people out riding, even if it is on dirt roads for 20 bucks, is inherently good for the biking lobby).

    And here's why the bike rides are good, in my opinion: the Preserve staff and the Board of Directors now have heard the resounding, repeated Cha-Ching associated with mountain bike riding on the Preserve. Which means that the biking interests can now begin to start credible tentative discussions about cutting in some single track on the Preserve, which, if I understand what the Preserve is saying, is no small task from a stand point of federal regulations. I've heard that getting single track or even extensive new trails will require at the least an Environmental Assessment process, even if the end result is granting of a waiver for an EA or however that works. I know nothing about how that whole nightmare is set up.

    The point is, though, that negotiations for single track must be done very delicately. I heard that the last group of cyclists just barged in after the rides last August and demanded that the VCNP build single track right away so it would be ready for the next season of riding, and when the Preserve didn't immediately jump up and do that, the bikers stormed out. This accomplished nothing, other than making the VCNP suspicious of the biking lobby and putting biking lobbying efforts back at square one again.

    Again, in my opinion, I believe that although it's gross and difficult, to thrive in a political environment (which the VCNP obviously and definitely is), you have to play some politics. Throwing a tantrum because they didn't build single track in a year is shoddy politics. We need to do better than that.

    It occurs to me that if people are really interested in biking on the Preserve in a more unregulated fashion and on some single track that is designed and built by bikers, then they should be doing what they can to encourage use of the Preserve during special event rides. If no one rides, it will be really easy for the Board and staff to say, nope, no one showed up and that means no one is interested. On the other hand, if the Cha-ching associated with the rides is so loud that it can't be ignored, then the Board and the staff is going to be more inclined to allow activities that increase that Cha-ching.

    Let's face it, the Preserve is all about making money. It's the sad, sick truth (the VC Preservation Act requires that they become "self-sufficient" in 10 years). And if they don't make money off of bikes, they're going to make money some other way and then there will be no bike access. Or worse, the place will become the site for America's first luxurious alpine Walmart, located right next to New Mexico's newest premier subdivision of luxury ranchettes.

    I decided to volunteer to help out with the rides to stop those very scenarios (which I think are more probable down the road that any of us really care to think about).

    Oh, and while I'm on that topic of volunteers, I saw some of the posts impugning the integrity or authenticity of the volunteers involved. Whoever wrote that ought to be ashamed of themselves. The volunteers associated with the rides are a very diverse group of hardworking people. They are all biking enthusiasts. They are not a clique. They are not shills of the Preserve. Most of them didn't even really know each other before they got involved with the events. So to say that they don't "represent the biking community" is pure hateful nonsense. What do those volunteers need to do to rate up in the coolness or authenticity department? Get tatoos? Give 'em a break! It took a lot of people a lot of hard work (and I mean like full-time job hard work) to pull these rides off.

    Bottom line for me, you can roll up your sleeves and help or you can just sit around and gripe about all the little imperfections that you can see or think of. I think if you choose the latter, you're part of the problem. And the problem with being part of the problem is that if we're not careful, in 10 years we'll be biking for free on some sweet Jemez single track on Forest Service land that is carefully routed around the Walmart and 89,000 acres of residences situated behind big steel gates with elk antlers hanging from them.

    I hope this counts as "meaningful feedback."

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blister Butt
    So I found out that some really nice, really hardworking biking enthusiasts were thinking the same thing as me and had worked some deal with the VCNP to get the mountain bike rides.
    ...

    I heard that the last group of cyclists just barged in after the rides last August and demanded that the VCNP build single track right away so it would be ready for the next season of riding, and when the Preserve didn't immediately jump up and do that, the bikers stormed out. This accomplished nothing, other than making the VCNP suspicious of the biking lobby and putting biking lobbying efforts back at square one again.
    I find it amusing that you characterize the same group of cyclists as both angels and devils. Also, I'd imagine that everyone involved with last year's inaugural ride would, correctly, take exception that they 'barged in' and demanded st, and then stromed out. If this is what you heard, then you should question anything else that you've heard from this particular source.

    For the most part, I agree with the rest of your post, but I think that you're applying the overwhelmingly political tactic of fear-mongering with your images of an Alpine Wal-mart. I do think that cyclists have a reasonable fear of becoming marginalized as a user group by the VCNP, but through the meetings that I've attended with reps of the VCNP, we don't have much control over that anyway.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blister Butt
    Yeah, so I checked out the thread. I'm not sure what "meaningful feedback" means, but I do have some thoughts. First off, I'm not affiliated with the VCNP.
    Meaningful feedback means, um, not just posting the advertisement, basically, as a lot of us have been made aware of the rides via other conduits, so while news to some, it's not to others, like myself - who given the heated climate regarding the VC saw a thread about the VC and had his intrest piqued. I had hoped you may have been asscociated with the VC folks, as then we'd have an insider!

    Quote Originally Posted by Blister Butt
    Second, I can't adequately express how much it chaps my ass that access to the Preserve is so very limited.
    Sure you can! And, you did in the follow up post, with lot's of "meaningful feedback" at that.


    Quote Originally Posted by Blister Butt
    I heard that the last group of cyclists just barged in after the rides last August and demanded that the VCNP build single track right away so it would be ready for the next season of riding, and when the Preserve didn't immediately jump up and do that, the bikers stormed out.
    This is news to me - and I was partially involved in helping out with the Fat Tire Festival last year, which had the Punishment Bike Race, and the VC rides - mainly organized by the TuffRiders Club and the Ski Area. I'd be VERY interested to hear about these apparent demands and subsequent storming-out episodes, as this is far from what I understood! I'd heard that the VC rides went great, people were stoked, and had a good time - even on dirt roads. Folks understood that the rides were about getting (rare) access to a huge chunk of real estate, not necessarily blazing on pristine single track (yet). Any info. to back up the "storming out" anecdote would likely prove entertaining - please elaborate if possible!

    Quote Originally Posted by Blister Butt
    Bottom line for me, you can roll up your sleeves and help or you can just sit around and gripe about all the little imperfections that you can see or think of. I think if you choose the latter, you're part of the problem. And the problem with being part of the problem is that if we're not careful, in 10 years we'll be biking for free on some sweet Jemez single track on Forest Service land that is carefully routed around the Walmart and 89,000 acres of residences situated behind big steel gates with elk antlers hanging from them.

    I hope this counts as "meaningful feedback."
    Glad to hear you're fired up then! I think my "meaningful feedback" comment was somewhat misinterpreted, but sure got the desired result!

    Seems like the VC is a primo oppurtunity for a substantial IMBA type working relationship that as you correctly pointed out, would take many years and due diligence. Once I finish this season's racing mania, I'll re-double my efforts with the Los Alamos Tuff Riders in the future, despite the fact a number of folks here seem to not be fans (while others certainly are), as we/they have been pretty successful with trailwork, advocacy and most importantly - COMMUNICATION. (FWIW, there's a new TR board all ye nay-sayers) Unless I'm totally whacked out here, the TR's were virtually entirely responsible for getting in the VC door last year, and it took a lot of work over many months.

    The only reason that I'm not all fired up about the VC is that we are so absurdly spoiled with so many miles of trails in NM that it's hard to go to bat for the preserve, especially since it's an hour + drive from my house. I know, I'm selfish, but I have some ideas/hopes/plans for my local trails, and possible events here in Santa Fe too!
    "It's better to regret something you HAVE done, than something you haven't..." -

  7. #7
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    10 years....say what?

    Quote Originally Posted by Blister Butt
    I've heard that getting single track or even extensive new trails will require at the least an Environmental Assessment process, even if the end result is granting of a waiver for an EA or however that works. I know nothing about how that whole nightmare is set up.
    ...... And the problem with being part of the problem is that if we're not careful, in 10 years we'll be biking for free on some sweet Jemez single track on Forest Service land that is carefully routed around the Walmart and 89,000 acres of residences situated behind big steel gates with elk antlers hanging from them.

    I hope this counts as "meaningful feedback."
    Writing an EA for new trails is not that involved of a process. You write the EA to determine whether or not the EIS is needed and most likely a FONSI would be issued (finding of no significant impact.) Basically this means a route is gps's and the biological, archaelogical, etc entitites walk the path and identify whetehr or not it needs to be relocated.
    Last edited by Timo; 07-21-2005 at 03:02 PM.

  8. #8
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    Good job!

    Just thought I'd bump this thread to the top after doing the Valle Caldera "Fun Ride" last weekend. There were a handful of serious riders, but mostly families and married couples were out enjoying the nice scenery and smooth jeep trail. I made it more fun for myself by riding the long loop as fast as I could and taking the short loop down (There was a nice fun downhill run there). 27 miles total and I managed to make an average speed of 9mph. Not too bad for myself, probably a snail's pace for most on this forum.

    It poured here all day Friday and Saturday, which closed the ride down into the Valle from Pajarito. It all started at the preserve. This ride was a good boost to my amature ego, as I passed quite a few recreational bicyclists and no one passed me. No doubt I would have gotten my clock cleaned if any serious bikers came along. The long run was adjusted to include a nice loop (called the Lolipop) around one of the peaks on the preserve. This peaked the elevation at 9400 feet (with a starting elevation of approximately 8500 feet?). Was a nice climb up and a fun ride down. All in all I had a good time and the spectacular view and ride amongst the aspens almost made up for riding on the butchered Jeep trails. I wasn't too crazy about spending $20, but feel like I got some of my money's worth out of the experience. I'll probably be back next year. Just wanted to give a rider's perspective of the ride there. Someday I might take pictures!

    Richard

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