Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Mountain Biking in Northern New Mexico

Biking enthusiasts find nearly every level and type of off-road cycling in and around Taos, New Mexico, from steep, rocky mountain trails and rolling meadows of wildflowers to rides along mesas with wide-open vistas, and the sheer cliffs of the Rio Grande Gorge.

It is important to keep in mind that this is high elevation, wilderness mountain biking; often trails are not marked. Orientation skills are important to prevent getting lost in unfamiliar territory, and wilderness skills are essential. Many single-track biking trails can climb to well over 10,000 feet, so be prepared for rain, snow, and hail even in the summer. Always carry lots of water, food, and clothing for changes in the weather.

The Taos area also has some of the most beautiful and challenging road rides in New Mexico, or indeed, anywhere. Currently, there are no bike paths, and many Taos area roads are narrow with little or no shoulder, but this shouldn’t discourage any cyclist from enjoying the spectacular high desert, Rocky Mountain scenery, and world class climbing. And there are some routes with bike lanes or large shoulders.

Most local riders tend to begin their road rides in the morning to avoid possible afternoon wind and showers, especially during “monsoon season” from mid-July through August. Roads here are rough, so it is advisable to bring plenty of spare tubes and a patch kit, and be well versed in roadside repair skills.

The Taos area offers rides ranging from short town loops to several century, and even double century options and beyond. Temperatures can climb in the summer, but are moderate in spring and fall. Again, be prepared for changing weather by carrying a windbreaker or lightweight rain jacket, as weather in the mountains is unpredictable.

More information on mountain bike trails and Taos area road rides

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