Sunday, April 10, 2011

Riding in Santa Fe New Mexico and the Dale Ball Trails

The second week of April, Jonell and I went down south to New Mexico for some r and r in the Santa Fe area. The main purpose of the trip was to relax and enjoy a week together! I brought the mountain bike along with plans to ride an hour or two each day. I did a little research before going down to see what was available for mountain biking and every search the Dale Ball trails popped up. Since we had snow last so long after the ski season was done at Maplelag, I spent free time skiing on snow covered trails instead of riding. In Santa Fe I was content to riding on gravel and back roads getting in some easy miles to start the riding season.

After we got settled in the hotel, I was pleased to find out access to the trails were about 3 miles from the hotel. Most of the hotels in the plaza area of Santa Fe are the same distance away so riding from the hotel to the trail head makes for a nice spin before hitting the trail. I first hit the south section and having the spin up was nice because they are steep off the bat. The trails are very well marked with signage at each intersection. The town of Santa Fe sits around 7000ft and the high point the trail reaches I think is around 7800 ft.

After an initial steep climb the trail buffed out a bit but only for a short while. I was expecting all the trail to be like this since close to town and figured the trail saw a lot of traffic. Once back in the more wooded part, the trail was technical with sections that were not rideable.
The trail I would rate as more advanced, for sure, with some fun technical sections with lots of rocks and tight switchbacks.
More open flowy stuff along the side of the mountain.

With a switch to rocks and fun twisty turny.
The time of year we were there, the weather was cool but sun was intense. The trail was a lot more protected than I expected. One night it rained maybe a half inch and the next day the trail condition was perfect with a tacky riding surface. The rain really brought out the smells and highlighting the brush.

More exposed trail with view back towards Santa Fe.

The trail is well marked with signs at each intersection with corresponding numbers.

Out and back track climbing to a high point.

Nice views at the top with a fun descent to follow.
Fast flowy section but technical rock section shortly after on descent back down.
Couple of days rode some back roads. Mainly paved lanes to homes out in the hills.
The Hyde Park Rd/Hiway 475 is a nice road to get some road miles on. It eventually makes way to Santa Fe Rec area. I didn't put a lot of miles on this road but did find a point to access the Dale Ball trails from it. Would make a nice longer warm up. The road is a little rough maybe for road bike but with knobbies, perfect.
Lot of side gravel roads to explore. The plaza at Santa Fe is loaded with tons of restaurants and excellent biker food. Some of the top choices were The Shed, fantastic local flare, Pasquals: more New Mex food, Il Vicino for wood fired pizza, Coyote Cafe, contemporary bit spendy, to name a few. This past winter season was a lower snow year in New Mexico but the month of March would be a great time to visit to ski and ride dry trails! All in all a great place to ride mountain bike and definitely plan on coming back! The last day we went up to Taos and checked with the local bike shop on trails to ride. Three rides recommended in the area ranging from 6-10 miles in length with rating of moderate to advance. Most of the "good" trails were still snow covered in the high country with 25 miles of singletrack at the Taos Valley Ski Area.

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