Chirping birds. Serpentine creeks. The smell of sun-dried pine needles, under a dense forest canopy. Sounds like southern Oregon, no? Turns out that's how the Santa Fe National Forest gets down, and boy howdy was I happy to find that out.
I had low expectations for New Mexico, thinking it would just be hot, dry desert. I guess that is the case in the southern part of the state, but here in Santa Fe the lay of the land is hilly, foresty, and fantastic. I found a 12-mile lollipop route with 2,500 feet of climbing, filled up the ol' hydration pack, and set off. Didn't bring the good camera, which was a mistake, because the views were quite nice.
For those following along at home, the route I took was Chamisa Trail 183 to the Winsor Loop. This starts with a steep climb, but then dumps you down into the valleys between the hills (shown above). The terrain is pretty diverse - there were red rock sections, soft loam sections, and some interesting dug-out turns that made for fun cornering. All of this exists in a pine forest, which had one drawback: you forget you're in the Southwest, so if you're used to blasting your arm/shoulder through pine branches, you get a rude awakening when one of those turns out to be a cactus.
The biggest quirk of this trail had to be the number of creek crossings. I honestly lost count of how many times I had to shoulder my bike across this one stream, which wound around the bases of the adjacent hills. Not complaining, just thought it was funny.
I'll end this post with a plug for The Broken Spoke. I might be biased because they're a Kona dealer, but it was a really cool shop and the dude I spoke to was super nice.