Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Visit to Albuquerque, Part 1

Seven year-old dirt bikin' cousins; each sporting pink and polka dots in her own way.
Update: See Part 2 here.

It had been quite some time since we traveled to another place as a family. So, this past weekend we took a road trip to visit my brother Chris and his family in Albuquerque. Between the two groups, we have a lot of girls and a lot of bikes, so naturally this situation called for some riding. Luckily, Albuquerque has a lot of great places for bikes, and among the best for biking families is the Paseo del Bosque Trail.

Scout and Pugsley are just as happy in the warm and dry as they've been in the cold and snowy.

My sister-in-law Jen recently surprised my brother with a new bike as a gift: an enormous XXL 24-inch frame Surly Ogre 29er. It was the first new bike for Chris in 23 years. He gave me his previous new bike in 2006, after 16 years of heavy service. In the interim, he had been riding his original mountain bike that he bought with earnings from a job at Dairy Queen during high school, a 1989 GT Avalanche that I rebuilt for him several years ago. The old GT had been his commuter/do-it-all bike, going through numerous drivetrains and a couple of DIY paint jobs. He deserves a lot of credit for making do with an existing bike, but as with any infrequently maintained machine under constant use, at some point it just makes sense to start anew. When Jen asked me to surreptitiously help her in the search, I didn't hesitate.

Chris remarked that it took him a while to become accustomed to riding the new bike, and I don't doubt it. At six feet, six inches tall, it's probably the first bike he has had as an adult that actually fits him. Curiously, at 6'1", I was able to ride his Ogre without feeling too stretched out, and cleared the top tube, if only by a slim margin. However, I would likely feel uncomfortable on the bike in rough trail conditions.

A big galoot on a giant Ogre.
One of the many snazzy houses along parts of the trail.
After inevitably taking a bit more time than expected both in exploring the trail and in the general nature of any activity involving a gaggle of kids, we neared one of our planned stops. We were met by a familiar-looking Gypsy on a familiar-looking bike, who led us into the Old Town Farm. Nicholas and Lael are world-class bike adventurers who have lived on the farm along the Bosque Trail for much of their time in Albuquerque, where they landed long enough to spend the winter.

The Old Town Farm is an idyllic oasis along the river, full of gardens, animals, old buildings and sundry equipment. The two adventurers seem to lead charmed lives, as one would be hard pressed to find a more pleasant place to winter in Albuquerque. One of the features of the farm is Bike-In Coffee, a food and drink establishment housed in a vintage RV, and which caters to bike traffic along the trail. Lael and Nicholas are naturals to operate such an enterprise; their fine rhubarb cake, chai lattes, hot cocoa and conversation were much enjoyed by our horde.

Rolling past the paddocks on the way to the farm.
Bike-in Coffee would do well in a lot of places. Great idea and execution.
It's unlikely that many Pugsleys have seen as many miles and places as this one.  It's in need of a new owner, so if you're in the market for a well-equipped fatbike with good karma, contact Nicholas.
Lael's seasoned '08 Raleigh XXIX in the foreground, Julie's new-to-her '09 Raleigh XXIX in the middle, and Jen's '99-ish Gary Fisher Big Sur with a Trek tagalong.
24" Surly Ogre, Trek Mountain Lion, and Kona Makena.
Getting close to closing up shop for the day. Lael's got a new pair of the Clarks boots she favors for seemingly all things, short of winning ultramarathons.

Sky-high five. 

Meeting Nicholas and Lael on their way to the Colorado Trail last year captured her imagination on what can be done by bike. We'll be keenly following their European travels.
Jen and Rosa are under way. Doesn't Jen look like she could use a nice steel 29er with a more upright riding position?
The farm's circa 1938 or '39 Ford truck.
Nicholas and Lael have ridden in some very scenic areas along challenging routes, and in a broad variety of locales. As impressive is the way in which they live; life on a bike encourages material simplicity, and a portfolio of experiences accrues value more dependably than many other investment possibilities. While it's not feasible for many of us to pursue the same path, a lot can be said for attempting to limit material accumulation and enjoying life as it occurs.

I bought this Revelate Sweet Roll bikepacking bag from Nicholas, who is dropping ballast in anticipation of a new adventure. I hope to put it to good use this year.
Back on the trail, this time on a paved stretch, though I stuck to the dirt alongside. 
I chatted for a while with the rider of this heavily modified three-speed mixte, and only thought to get a photo as she rode away.
At the end of our ride, kids, adults, and even dog were tired and hungry. We ended up at El Pinto, a restaurant and manufacturer of one of my favorite brands of salsa. Overall, a great day in Albuquerque. Part II coming soon.


  1. The elusive Nicholas in high-five pose. Like it.
    Looked like a fun trip!

    1. The trip was indeed a lot of fun and the visit to the farm was a high point. It's always good to see Nicholas, who is good with kids as at his core I suspect he's one himself.

    2. I certainly would like to think of myself as a kid. In truth, I was eight year old when my younger brother was born and I grew to appreciate all phases of youth. My sisters and I enjoyed having a baby in the house, yet my brother is now almost legally able to drink a beer. We have enjoyed all of those years. Spending time with other kids brings back all of the great years with my siblings. Stella is also a standout 'kid'. I suspect she frequently reminds you what it is all about.

  2. Looks like a truly AWESOME outting :D


    1. We had a great time. Can't wait to do it again. It's always a treat to explore new areas by bike.

    2. Yes is certainly is :D

  3. Loads of fun and amped up on caffeine