Mountain Biking In Santa Fe

Another year, another Gallery Developers Conference. Chad (The lead Gallery UX guy) took care of organizing things this year, so we ended up in his current hometown: Santa Fe, NM. I took off the Thursday and Friday from work, but figured I might as well make a bigger trip of it so I took off the whole week and flew out last Saturday so I could squeeze in 4 full days of mountain biking before Gallery work began. I spent the first few days staying with Chad and biking on trails around Santa Fe on a sweet rental mountain bike from Mellow Velo: a Commencal Skin 2. All the photos are at: and some highlights are below. Chad was kind enough to let me stay at his house, and his fridge was always full of beer!

Sunday - 21.7 miles, 4:25, 4427ft

Not knowing what I was getting myself into, Chad dropped me off at a parking lot at St. John’s College, and I headed up Atalaya Mountain. I don’t think the base altitude slowed me down that much, but the climbing was pretty nuts and I did quite a bit of hike-a-bike. Near the top, there were places I had to carry the bike on my shoulder because it wasn’t even really possible to push it up hill. It took a while to get up, but the view was worth it. I cruised on past the top and headed north into Dale Ball South, which I now know is the “expert” part of Dale Ball, and I now know the longest and steepest way to the top of Dale Ball South. Another great view:

and all things considered, my first day of mountain biking was pretty crazy and pretty successful. My GPS showed me the way back to Chad’s house, and the elevation profile shows the cumulative ridiculousness:

This is the most climbing I’ve ever done in one day on a mountain bike, and more than I’ve ever done in one day on a road bike since I started keeping track a few years ago!

Monday - 29.1 miles, 3:37, 2810 ft

On day 2, I biked from Chad’s house to Mellow Velo for a new rear tire and rode from there to Dale Ball Central. Central was a lot more rideable and fun than South, and Dale Ball North turned out to be the most fun. Nothing super epic about the day, but lots of good riding on fun trails and almost no walking the bike.

Tuesday - 33.1 miles, 2:52, 2875 ft

Sunday’s ride finally caught up to me on Tuesday, so I took it a bit easy and biked south of town on the Santa Fe Rail Trail which is a relatively flat dirt bike path following an old rail line south of town. It was pretty overcast for the whole ride, and was a relaxing change of pace from Sunday and Monday, so I obviously had to do something a little crazy on Wednesday.

Wednesday - 35.1 miles, 4:33, 3932 ft

I piled into the car with Chad and he took a big detour on his commute to drop me off at the Aspen Vista trailhead up near the Santa Fe Ski Resort. Even with arm warmers and leg warmers on, it will still pretty chilly as I started up the service road climb to the top. For over 5 miles, the grade was a steady 6.5% and it took a while to make it to the top, but the views were even more worth it than Atalaya and Dale Ball South, and the whole way up was rideable! After some photos, I continued past the antenna cluster at the top of the ski resort and climbed another few hundred feet to the top of Deception Peak at 12,357 (which did require a little walking):

This is the highest altitude that I’ve ever been on a bike at. Originally, I was going to try and make it up to Lake Peak which is a little higher, but after some reading around online the night before it didn’t sound too bikeable and I took a picture of Lake Peak from the top of Deception Peak to show how crazy getting to the top of it would have been:

I turned around and went back down the way I came (going down a whole lot faster than I came up!), and at the parking lot, turned up the road to the Windsor trailhead. Windsor turned out to be the most fun mountain biking of the trip: 5 miles of super fast downhill that was just easy enough to be rideable on a hard tail. I took a left on Chamisa for a few miles, headed through Dale Ball Central again, and rode back along the railroad tracks to Chad’s house. Wednesday was a great day, the longest time I’ve spent on a mountain bike, and perhaps the most enjoyable day of mountain biking I’ve had. The elevation for the day shows a bit of the story:

In Summary

I’m very glad I decided to get some mountain biking in, and managed to climb over 14,000ft over 119 miles which is plenty of riding for a week. This trip meets my goal for 2009 of taking a week long mountain biking trip somewhere, and the 15h26min in the saddle is even enough to meet my “spend more time in the saddle than it took to get there and get home” rule of thumb for biking in Atlanta! Here’s the full map of the week:

If you’re going to be in Santa Fe and ride mountain bikes, it’s definitely fitting in some of these things, and the Santa Fe area might actually be a good destination for a mountain biking specific trip. Get this map, take a GPS, and stay somewhere in town! From what Chad tells me, there is more great mountain biking around Los Alamos which is very doable if you have a car, and there is more mountain biking around the Windsor trail that I didn’t have time to do. Check out the rest of the photos at

comments powered by Disqus