Life On The Road: Bike Park Bound
11 Jul 2017
By Natty G.
Life on the road: Traveling in our truck camper, full timing it.
In t-shirts and flip-flops, we were back on the road. We left Arizona just in time. Only a few days after we packed everything up and moved back into our truck camper (which is properly named “Maurice”), the beautiful state of Arizona started to see its first few days of temperatures in the 100s for 2017. Besides the warming temps, we were more than ready to get back on the road. Green trees and brown/red loamy dirt had been calling our names for the last few weeks. The desert offers something special with its jagged, loose and slick-rock surfaces. Springtime budding cacti are a sight not to be missed, but there are so many riding locations across the globe and there’s new terrain that needs to be explored. We had plans all mapped out, and so far, we have stayed the course with only a few minor hiccups. Our first few stops were in New Mexico. But, ultimately, we were eastern states bike-park bound!
(Left rider: Duncan Nason - Right rider: James Oborne)
(Riders front to rear: Lars Romig, Paul Hallinan, and Tim Babcock)
(Rider: Matt Patterson)
After the first few hours of driving, we found ourselves in some really strange weather, i.e., snow. This was a shock to the system coming from a few months of riding in the warm Arizona sun. That first night was harder than expected when we learned the low temp was going to be 23 degrees. Neither one us planned on hoodies, pants, and beanies for night one in our camper. Only a few months earlier, our space heater broke, and we made the decision not to buy another one because we knew we were headed to the desert. Completely unprepared for cold weather, we were on a mad hunt for a new space heater, with no luck at Walmart or Home Depot. The thought of riding the next morning in Gallup N.M. had us questioning our decision about camper life. How much further south did we need to go? Little did we know, we should have been relishing in that cold air. Soon enough, sweaty, muggy, and buggy days were just around the corner the further southeast we traveled.The first morning we found ourselves at a riding location called ZUNI, just outside of Gallup New Mexico. We started at 9,000ft. We knew this ride was only going to be about sucking wind. But, a ride was absolutely necessary. There was one trail that stuck out to us as noteworthy, “Quaking Aspen”. It weaved in and out of a solid rock wash and was a fun, fast, lite-technical descent. But, surprisingly, there were no Aspens. Trey broke a tooth on the lower jockey wheel of his Sram Eagle OX1 derailleur. The jockey wheel hangs down so low and likes to shake hands with every stick it sees. This is an unfortunate side effect to an awesome design.
After ZUNI, we made our way to Bisti Badlands Wilderness Area near Farmington, N.M. We can’t say enough good things about this place. THERE IS NO RIDING, sorry to say, but the hiking is beyond worth the travel to this location. If you’re into prehistoric rocks and petrified trees and getting lost in mazes of hoodoos and spaceship rocks then don't miss out. It has mountain bike lines for days (requiring much restraint not to try them out). We tested our navigational skills by getting lost. Fortunately, for some reason, Natty was running strava. After about an hour of searching for the truck camper, a light went off in her head and she was able to locate where they were parked by pulling up her map. Brilliant!
(Natty and Trey looking snazzy thanks to ZOIC Clothing)
After Bisti Badlands, we had our eyes set on a mountain bike trail system called Otero, just Southeast of Albuquerque N.M., in a town called Tijeras. Neither one of us had heard of it before, so our expectations were set pretty low. It should be noted that it was Natty’s Birthday Ride. With a very late start, we began pedaling the 2,600ft climb, up a moderate technical trail. Once we arrived at the top of our planned route, we took a quick break and made the decision to add an extra 3-mile loop onto the ride. That should have been all the foreshadowing that we needed. But mountain bike love is blind. It was a birthday ride after all. And, every good birthday ride should end in the dark, right? So, we decided to add in a 3-mile loop on “3 Bottles” trail, that was amazing!! Huge rock features, steep rock gardens, and some flow... do not miss this area. We were all smiles until we realized we were heading up a section that we had already ridden. We got a little turned around, lost really. It wouldn’t have been such a big of deal, except the sun was beginning to set. A quick lovers quarrel about which way on the trail we needed to go, and the ride turned into a race against the sunset. Swoopy,ledge riding, with square edged rocks, and flow with a sunset in our faces made for an epic birthday ride! The last mile of the trail was completely in the dark. We were riding by rock braille. I’m sure everyone who’s reading this has had an epic ride that finished in the dark.
Being back on the road comes with its challenges and complaints, but every time we end an epic ride in a surprisingly awesome new location, it always ends with enormous smiles. We moved on from the red dirt in New Mexico, passed through the flat lands of Texas, and found ourselves in Lawton Oklahoma. We’ll save those tales for our next article. Until next time… ___________________________________________________________________________________________
Catch Natty and Trey on Chairlift Confessions Podcast
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