I left the house at 7:30 am into cool, refreshing air. Corrales was quiet as I headed north and up the hill into Rio Rancho
and…..Ooops….. Rewind…..
dniweR…. spooO …. dna ochsxflkjd flsjdjsjlskjdf a sazkjslfk zzzz ZZZZZZZZZZZZZipp!

Returning southbound, a TT cyclist, John, pulled-up alongside of me, "Where ya headed?"

We had a nice chat about cycling and his new experiences in town. I invited him to join one of our Saturday club rides as I peeled off back into my neighborhood.

The tent poles were right where I had left them in the garage….. *
Fast Forward…. ppiZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ zzzz kflsksldkjlkj a sdlkfd and Oooops…
I headed back up the hill into Rio Rancho and glided along highway 528 toward Bernalillo on fresh black pavement.

I rounded the corner onto 550, downshifted twice and faced the big hill west of Bernalillo. I needed something to distract me from the heavy traffic and let my mind drift into its comfortable coma mode while focusing on making big circles with my pedals and letting muscle tension slip away in anticipation of a long day in the saddle. Caravan after caravan passed me pulling enormous amounts of recreational gear to their destination for the long weekend.

Highway 4 was actually quiet. Not like silent-quiet, but just enough so to notice a big drop in traffic. I guessed that the truck loads of recreational equipment had found their destinations early enough in the day to leave the road mostly to me and the Sweet Escape III. *
Jemez Springs and the Los Ojos bar came into view a little after lunch time, but still early enough to enjoy a tasty burger, fries and a beer.

After lunch and a couple miles further along the road, I looked up to see a guy walking backwards and thumbing-it the other way. “You got a hell of a hill ahead of you!!!", he said to me. “I sure do!”, I said back and kept mashing away at my pedals against the steepening incline.

I managed to avoid rain while still enjoying random splashes of shade for the remainder of the trip up into La Cueva finally stopping to soak my shirt in the milky but cool water.

75 miles, with 4500 feet of climbing after 7 hours, I arrived in La Cueva and celebrated with an ice-cold orange Fanta!

Not a single person in sight and here was an open burning camp fire!

I set up camp at 8000 feet, in a flat spot on the ridge, overlooking the valley that I had just conquered . For dinner, I heated the two tinfoil wrapped burritos I had buried deep in my right-rear pannier.

I took my time getting ready in the morning as things were peaceful and a fairly short day lie ahead of me. Entertained by several birds overhead, the moonlit forest shifted to sunlight while a lone elk bugled randomly at the far edge of my hearing.

I slept without the rain fly under open skies and warm temperatures.  The 600 foot drop to La Cueva the next morning created a temperature drop from 62 to 50 degrees on my way to breakfast.

By the time I reached Fenton Lake State Park, I knew I needed to top-off all my water bottles, but didn’t want to deal with the park employee creating a long line of vehicles as he collected money. Trying to come up with something good to say, I rolled passed the line of cars right to the front. Without stopping, I murmured to him, "I’ve got to go in and see if my friends are here" He tipped his clipboard up as if preparing to block my way and motioned backward with his thumb, " Bicycles are free!!" and continued filling out his forms.

As I arrived, a park employee told me that there had been a terrible motorcycle crash.  The woman was unconscious and a helicopter was coming to get her.

Here’s a little panoramic video of my camp for the evening.

 

 

There were several groups of cows and their calves lazily gorging themselves on acres and acres of green grass as the big bull paced from group to group overseeing his "herd".

I setup camp and unloaded Sweet Escape III.  After lowering the air pressure in both tires I took off exploring.  I was amazed to realize that I had travelled MANY miles further into the forest based on "…. just a little bit further!"  Around each corner was another picture postcard photo opportunity.

I left my little private forest camp and rolled down into the Seven Springs valley.  One mountain pass later, I arrived in the next valley with Fenton Lake.  Up and over another pass and I had returned to La Cueva for a late breakfast of a breakfast burrito with a side of red chile.  Awesome!  Up another steep pass and spent the remainder of the day rinsing and repeating this up/down action until I arrived in Los Alamos for the night.

The Valle Grande is enormous with many pull-outs for elk viewing.

On the morning of my last day on the road, I left Los Alamos, while THOUSANDS of commuters replaced the vacancy I had created.  I was certainly glad to be going in the opposite direction as the lack of shoulder and steep highway out of Los Alamos required me to take the entire lane for a couple of miles as I coasted nearing 40 mph.

As I rolled along the highway nearing Pojaque, NM, a road cyclist yelled for me to pull over.  Seems he wanted to tell me there was a better way to get to Santa Fe… and he was right!  Taking the frontage road and bypassing via a small county road through Tesuque and finally a neighborhood street, I popped out at the famous PINK CHURCH!