Posts Tagged ‘Elena Gallegos Open Space’

Smoked out

May 17, 2022

Done and dusted until further notice.

If you think that little slice of New Mexico looks dry, even parched, maybe, well … that’s because it is.

And so, the word has come down that a forest closure order has been issued effective Thursday for the Mount Taylor, Mountainaire, and Sandia ranger districts of the Cibola National Forest and National Grasslands. The entire Carson and Santa Fe national forests will follow suit.

Says the U.S. Forest Service:

“Fire danger remains extreme with record conditions only expected to worsen over the foreseeable future. The closure will be rescinded after significant moisture has been received and overall conditions improve.”

It’s a bummer, for sure. But so is getting burned the hell up.

I was just out toodling around in the Elena Gallegos Open Space, with an extra-credit lap around the Menaul trailhead area, and the Steelman Eurocross was cheeping like a nest of baby birds by the time I got home.

That ain’t dirt, it’s dust. And nobody wants a forest they can fit into an ashtray. Or so some of us would like to think, anyway. The quantity of cigarette butts I see along the roads and at trailheads suggests that this is not a unanimous opinion.

Strictly for the birds

April 29, 2022

The hummers and quail are lightening the mood around here.

The hummingbirds are back. And this looks just like an Audubon photo of one, the same way I look just like Jason Statham if you see me backlit at sunset, from the other side of a four-lane street with a sizable median. It’s possible that you left your specs in the pub after a half-dozen boilermakers, a vicious beating, and perhaps a stroke.

The grasses in Elena Gallegos Open Space are an ominous shade of tan.

It’s been a quiet week around El Rancho Pendejo. Herself just got her second Plague-B-Gon booster and is recovering nicely after enduring a sore arm and some drowsiness.

As for Your Humble Narrator, despite relentless seasonal allergies exacerbated by smoke-laden afternoon breezes I found the weather stellar for cycling. Actual tan lines are in evidence. I managed 105 miles last week and would be on track to repeat that this week if I hadn’t veered off road three times, twice on the bike and once on foot.

When riding trail I strive mightily to avoid nicking any trailside rocks with a pedal. One good spark in these dry, windy conditions and we’ll be grabbing the go-bags and cat carrier and hightailing it for … for … for where? Is there anyplace that isn’t on fire and/or out of water?

Weather, or not

March 10, 2022

Looks like weather. Whether we get weather remains to be seen.

The best thing about riding trails on a cool, gloomy Thursday is that you will not have much company.

Herself’s elder sis and one of their longtime pals flew into town yesterday for a weeklong visit. I whipped up too much grub — turkey enchiladas in red chile, turkey tacos with homemade salsa fresca, and Mexican rice — and this morning I felt the need to balance my caloric budget. So I kitted up, grabbed the Voodoo Nakisi, and rolled out.

Water you doing up there?

The forecast called for wind and snow, which is why I decided to log a little dirt time on the Elena Gallegos trails, just in case they turn into ice rinks, mudslides, and/or drainage channels. The NWS did not sound particularly confident in its prediction, but hey, even a blind dog finds a Milk-Bone now and then.

I exchanged compliments with a couple cheerful hikers early on as we took different routes around the same rockpile. A third reluctantly stepped aside for me as I cranked cautiously up a sketchy bit of Trail 341 that most double-boinger types ride as a descent.

Putting a foot down and waving her through, I explained that I hadn’t ridden this section in a while and was likely to intercourse the penguin right about where she was standing. She complied and trudged on down the trail, mumbling something about having been denied “a little entertainment.”

She didn’t miss much. I cleaned that sumbitch right up to the rock garden just below where 341 intersects with the Pino Trail. That obstacle has me completely buffaloed. I nearly rolled the dice but figured that I’d been lucky so far and didn’t need to break any bones with the womenfolk off raiding The Duck! City’s thrift stores for their eBay empires.

Made it home without incident, tossed a light lunch down the gullet, and started a pot of posole for the evening meal, when Herself the Elder joined the throng.

I am seriously outnumbered here. Why, I can hardly hear the voices in my head.

Deer me

February 16, 2022

“Three for the buffet, please.”

They’re baaaaaaaaaaack. …

They’ve always been here, of course. They leave evidence all over the yard. But it’s rare to catch them eating our foliage in broad daylight.

With aridification at a level not seen since mule deer and Native A’s had the run of the ranch around here, plus a mountain lion said to be working the Elena Gallegos Open Space, it’s no surprise a deer or two or three decides to take five here in the Compound, munch a bit of lawn with a side of birdseed.

I was exploring a bit myself yesterday. There’s an arroyo slicing through Bobcat Boulevard NE that I’ve been meaning to check out, and since I was aboard the Co-Motion Divide Rohloff with its 50mm tires and 19-inch low I dove into it on a whim.

A brief diversion.

It started out as your typical sandy wash, then quickly narrowed to some nice twisty hardpack. A friend had told me it was possible to ride it to Foothills Trail 365, but with fauxdobe haciendas on either side I was wondering if I might wind up on someone’s patio, having a pointed property-rights debate with their Rottweiler.

Nope. My friend was right. After negotiating a few rocky bits and some old snow and ice, I found myself on 365, near Trail 230, an part of EG’s open space that I know well. So I cut over to the ranger station, dove down Simms, and retraced my route to the arroyo to ride it in the other direction, toward Tramway.

This section of the wash stays broad and loose until reaching a concrete apron that leads past Little Cloud Park and under Tramway. Hang a right just before the dropoff and you can ride another diversion channel back under Tramway and pick up the north-south bike path near Paseo del Norte.

It goes without saying that if you like riding diversion channels you want to indulge your whim in dry weather, unless you also enjoy flume rides to the Rio Grande. It seems we have plenty of dry in the long-range forecast.

The (get) off button

January 26, 2022

Shut ’er down.

I suffered my first flat of 2022 the other day. My first in nearly a year, actually.

When you rock stout tires and sealant-laced inner tubes the flats are few and far between, even here in The Duck! City, where spiky objects abound. Broken glass, goatheads, and cacti, oh my.

But as in real life, something will get you eventually. In this case, it was a cactus thorn that looked like the business end of a veterinary hypodermic. I picked it up while careening around the Elena Gallegos Open Space on a Steelman Eurocross, and the tire didn’t go completely unrideable until I was an easy jog from the ranger shack, where I swapped tubes from the comfort of a chair on their patio out back.

This is entirely different from flatting in the arse-end of nowhere with the sleet coming in sideways and a couple teeth-chattering companions hopping around, hands stuffed in their armpits, waiting on you. A certain urgency is implied. Speed, not diligence, is at a premium. It’s a variation on the old whorehouse refrain: Get it out, get it in, get it up, and get going.

Since it was just me, I took my time: shifted into big and little; released the straddle cable; pulled the wheel; ran a tire iron around one bead; and pulled out the flat tube. Then I felt carefully along the inside of the tire, looking for the culprit. Ever just stuffed a fresh tube in there, aired it up, and rolled away only to find the tire flat once more about 50 meters down the trail? Yeah, me too. I learned the hard way to round up the usual suspects first.

In this case the thorn had slipped between two centerline chevrons like a shiv between ribs, driving a good quarter inch deep into the tube, whose sealant had lost its grip.  I couldn’t get hold of the fat end of the thorn with my fingers, so I used the tire iron to scrape off the pointy end. Insert new tube, pump it up good and fat, and off we go.

What a luxury to be able to perform this simple chore while sitting down, in a chair, instead of flailing away with the minipump in a crouch like a compulsive masturbator. This startles passing motorists, assuming their eyes aren’t glued to their smartphones, which is a bet you don’t want to place in this high-desert casino.

You’re not even safe off road, based on the auto-body fragments Herself and I found littering a neighborhood trail during a run last week. An errant Honda Civic street racer will give you a puncture you can’t fix on the fly.

Sanitized for your protection

April 14, 2021

The new descent.

I haven’t spent a lot of time on the Elena Gallegos trails lately. But somebody has been putting in the hours over there. And not on a bike, either.

Two rocky stretches have had the kinks ironed out of them, which is both good and bad.

The old climb out of the sand pit has been rendered impassable.

Good in that they’re much easier to ride on a cyclocross bike now. And bad in that they’re much easier to ride on a cyclocross bike now.

One I usually rode as a short descent. It was a real tooth-rattler, rocky and rutted, and I always took a good look around at the top because I didn’t want to meet anyone coming up when I was halfway down. It dumped into a sand pit and turned into a short, rocky climb with poor line of sight, so I usually hit the bell a time or two on the out of the pit.

The other I generally rode as a short climb after a longish rocky descent. It required some negotiation with medium-sized stones in tight corners, and I occasionally dabbed because it looked like it should have been easier than it was.

Well, they’re both easy now, which means people will be riding them faster, even me. No good deed goes unpunished.

Voodoo x 2

December 1, 2020

The Nakisi gets its closeup at Trail 366.

With the holiday in the rear view it seemed a fine time to do the Voodoo that I do … mmm, not so well sometimes.

On Monday I took the Voodoo Nakisi out for an airing on the Elena Gallegos trails and promptly stuffed it in a rocky section that a drunk monkey could ride on a unicycle.

The Wazoo takes five against a wall back at the Chuckle Hut.

No harm, no foul — there was a nice big round rock within reach of my left hand and so I never actually went down.

But still, damn.

Today it was the Voodoo Wazoo’s turn. We covered much of the same territory but without incident.

Well, almost without incident.

In the last 20 minutes of the ride I somehow managed to pick up a tiny cactus spine in the left bird finger, and it stung like a bee whenever I squeezed the brake lever. Probably a souvenir of yesterday’s miscue that hitched a ride on my glove. I didn’t have any tweezers on me, but I couldn’t see the tiny sonafabitch to grab it anyway.

At times like this a smart fella might question the viability of the rigid steel bike and the 42mm “fatties.”  But what the hell? They’ve gotten me this far. And anyway, you know what I say about the chances of me ever being smart.

Equinot yet goddammit. …

September 21, 2020

Me and the Voodoo Wazoo on the homebound leg.

The last day of summer? C’mon. Didn’t the Tour just wrap on Sunday, f’chrissakes?

C’monnnnnnnn. …

OK, well, then, since it is the last day of summer, with all that implies (impending winter, the ongoing cooling of the Universe, entropy galloping along unchecked toward inert uniformity), I decided to do something I haven’t done all that much this year, and that was ride the Elena Gallegos Open Space.

It practically goes without saying that I was on a rigid chromoly frame and fork, with rim brakes, 700c tubed tires, and electronic/hydraulic nothing. Unless you count the thousand-year-old Cateye Velo 8 cyclocomputer on the handlebar.

Mostly sunny, temps in the 70s, everybody in the vicinity just having a high old time. Sure, winter, entropy, and all that, but still, damn. I’ll take it.

Happy trails

September 3, 2020

The Elena Gallegos Open Space was awash in goodwill on Wednesday.

Maybe it was the abrupt change in temperature from “hot as balls” to “ooh that’s nice.”

During a short ride around the Elena Gallegos Open Space yesterday morning everyone I met was in high spirits. Not a sourpuss in the lot.

Cyclists, equestrians, hikers, moms with kids, dog-walkers — everybody was smiling as though the Republic were ticking along like a fine watch instead of missing on three of eight cylinders, leaking vital fluids, and badly in need of a front-end alignment.

I haven’t been riding the trails much during the Year of the Bug because once everyone who could work from home was working from home, well … it seemed that a lot of them were not exactly working from home. Not unless their homes were on the range, where the deer and the antelope — and Your Humble Narrator — play.

With a dodgy ankle I doubted my ability to excel at “Dodge the Noob,” so mostly I abandoned the trails for the roads, though occasionally I’d hit some short, wide, low-traffic trail to cleanse the old velo-palette.

But six months later I’m more or less myself, or someone very much like him. And yesterday I didn’t have to dodge anyone. The thundering herd seemed to have thinned a bit, and those who remained didn’t give off that displaced-gym-rat vibe. Earbuds were very much not in evidence. Mostly I yielded trail, of course, even when I had the right of way. But occasionally people who had the right of way even yielded to me.

Cheery greetings were exchanged, munchkins on strider bikes applauded, horsemanship admired. Even my battered Voodoo Nakisi drew some appreciation.

“Doing some cyclocross, hey?” asked one guy after I complimented his dog, some class of burly curly black wonderpooch. I explained that my bike was a 29er with drop bars, your basic monstercrosser, just the thing for the Elena Gallegos trails, and then headed for the barn.

It was a random sample, not a scientific poll. Pundits will not cite it as evidence of a trend going into the November election. But I found it comforting. For an hour or so, anyway.

Clutch effort

June 23, 2020

The descent from the intersection of Pino Trail and Wilderness.

More adventures, still more!

Today I decided to challenge the ankle a bit with some off-road foolishness in the Elena Gallegos area. I thought I was being smart by waiting until 10 a.m. to head out, reasoning that the weak would get theirs earlier, in the cool of the morning.

Well, you know about me and smart. Never happen, is what. Everybody and his grandma was out there with me.

I had to dab a couple times while climbing one section I call Cholla Clutch Cañon because I screwed the pooch riding it as a descent back in 2017, grabbing a fistful of cane cholla to keep from skidding over the edge. (See “me and smart” in the previous paragraph.)

Anyway, the trail wizards have been waving their wands at this stretch since I last rode it and muscle memory was of no help whatsoever. Also, everybody else was riding it as a descent, on full-suspension mountain bikes, which proved something of an impediment to Wrong Way O’Grady, with his rigid, drop-bar Voodoo Nakisi weirdomobile and mad climbing skillz.

Speaking of mad skillz, the Adventure Cyclist boyos have posted my latest review online. Surly has updated its Disc Trucker with an eye toward the gravel-gobbling, bikepacking market.

And wonder of wonders: You can still buy the rim-brake Long Haul Trucker if that’s how you roll. I don’t know that you’d necessarily want to ride it up Cholla Clutch Cañon … but hell, I’d probably try it.