Adventure: Scouting Gravel

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Oh man. Now I’ve done it. Now I know why I kept my Tacoma. Give me some idle time and I will find a way to torture myself. Seventy-five miles of mixed bag. Gravel, dirt, mud, tarmac with some spectacular climbs and equally spectacular descents.

Heading south on the easy stuff.

This isn’t a route I intend to drive again. I was only driving so I could scout the route for my bike. And scout I did. What an incredible area this is. And the road conditions are fantastic. Two days after a heavy rain, so there were patches of deep mud but mostly it was hardpack. Ten miles from town the dirt starts and doesn’t stop for another thirty miles, ambling through rolling hills and ranch land. I never saw a single other vehicle.

Remember, at some point I have to ride back up this.

My route then returned to the pavement. I tried to link back up with the original dirt road, and in doing so drove some truly rugged stuff. Deep mud, rock, off-camber ruts and twisting axle breaker washouts. The truck never seemed bothered outside of some squeaky springs. (I accidentally left my GoPro suction mount at home otherwise I would have filmed the bad sections.)

Look ma, mountains. (I’m pointing them out for you.)

Now, I’m going to need to train for this baby before I can swing it in one shot. If it was flat, no issues, but it is FAR from flat. And the wind. NEVER forget the wind. There is no place for water or food for at least forty miles. And no cell signal the entire way.

Still easy but this eventually led to sections where I thought, “You know, if I break down, get stuck or roll this thing it’s gonna be ugly. And I forgot water. Rookie mistake.

So, my immediate plan is to ride out and do the first thirty miles which is a combo of paved and dirt. See how it goes. I’m in love. And this route is SO close to Santa Fe but feels like you are in the middle of nowhere. It basically circles Rowe Mesa. You end up in Pecos at one point, and I think I actually figured out how to link back via the dirt but I will have to make one more scouting trip. Onward.

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  1. Hey Dan, if you do the long loop you may want to consider bringing a riding buddy along. 40 miles is a long stretch without any water, and you’d be in a bind if you had any mechanical issues or injuries. Did a 30+ mile MTB ride along the Grand Canyon North Rim a few years ago – tougher trail than we expected and we underestimated how fast we’d go thru our water. Also had problems with disk brakes, and those can be tough to fix on the trail. It sounds like a fun ride, but sometimes shit happens…

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      Hey Jim,
      I’ve been on a lot longer rides by myself, but I do have friends to ride with. And, worst case, I walk to the road and hitch! Who doesn’t love a guy in spandex?

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