Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Weird Stuff seen in Albuquerque (on my bicycle)

In previous posts on Seeing Albuquerque by Bicycle, I have included several photo galleries of the sights that can only be explained by photographs. There are galleries about public art, historic buildings
and roadside memorials.

Now comes the post just about the weird things I see as I ride throughout Duke city.
Many of these sights were discovered because I was travelling on a bicycle and had the time to observe these unusual landmarks. In other words, I wasn't speeding by in an automobile at 60 miles per hour. The old two-wheeler can cut through an alley or make it's way down a side street quicker than a car can turn around in the next parking lot. Here are a few photos I have snapped in the eight months I have been blogging. I am sure there will be more weird sights to follow.

The Bart Prince "UFO" house (Monte Vista neighborhood)

Vietnamese Lumberjack near Louisiana and Central.

What self-respecting city cannot boast a drive-in fur and hide company?
(Warehouse district, near downtown)

Antenna with pine branches (Paradise Hills neighborhood)

This isn't weird except that there is another house with the Statue of Liberty in the front yard two blocks away.


Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Bosque Trail Update

There have been some changes to the Bosque Trail since the original post I did last April. It is about time for an update on Albuquerque's favorite recreational bike trail.

Tingley Beach Park Renovation

The most dramatic change is the completion of the Tingley Beach park renovation. The grand opening was actually in October and so far it has been a big success.

Some parts of the park are not actually finished. Three of the ponds are open and are stocked with fish. The fourth pond near Central avenue is not done yet. I think will be a model boat pond.
The train station has opened and the train is running between the Rio Grande Zoo through Tingley Beach and on to the Bio Park and Aquarium.

Tingley Beach pond and
train station.

The old bike trail is back in commission and the route has not changed very much. There are also bike lanes on Tingley drive going both ways. Be aware that there are more pedestrians in this area and they may not be paying attention to passing bicycles.

I-40 Bike Trail

This new bike trail appeared during the late summer. It intersects the Bosque Trail at the Interstate 40 overpass. The trail follows the I-40 sound wall to 6th street and then it ends suddenly. At this point, there is not much room to continue a bike trail due to the off ramps of I-40 near the Big I.

This trail provides another way to get to Rio Grande blvd and the Old Town area. It actually detours onto a side street, Aspen ave a few blocks before Rio Grande blvd. Then you have to carefully cross Rio Grande blvd to continue along I-40 to 6th street. It is also an easy way to reach downtown from this new trail. Almost any of the numbered streets can provide easy access to downtown.

I-40 bike trail

Bosque Trail Extension

As I said in the April post, there were plans to expand the Bosque Trail north to the town of Bernalillo and south to Belen. During the summer there was some construction where the trail now ends at the Alameda trailhead. I belive this is the first sign of the expansion. This is on the other side of the Alameda bridge near the picnic area.

Alameda trail extension

The trail extension is scheduled to open next summer and will be nearly 50 miles from end to end. I will try to post more information about the expansion as it happens.

Albuquerque's best bike trail continues to get better!


Thursday, November 17, 2005

Katrina Victims Bicycle Project

Our fellow bike blogger Larry Lagarde and his family are victims of Hurricane Katrina. Yet Larry still finds the time to help his fellow displaced citizens with a bold plan to provide them with a bicycle.

The plan is to contact used bicycle shops, bicycle co-ops and community charitable organizations to provide the displaced victims with a used bicycle as a form of reliable transportation in their new community. He has gotten some response from communities in Texas, Chicago, Pittsburgh and Denver.

If you are interested, please see Larry's Katrina Victims blog


Sunday, October 23, 2005

Out of Town Ride: Albuquerque to Jemez Springs (128 miles)

The Bosque Trail- Corrales- Rio Rancho- Santa Ana Pueblo- Zia Pueblo- San Ysidro- Jemez Pueblo- Jemez Springs

Every year I try to do at least one very long ride that takes me outside the metropolitan area. In past years I have ridden to Cedar Crest and Zia Pueblo. My longest rides have been about 80 miles in one day. This ride was from the west side near Coors rd and Central avenue to Jemez Springs and was 128 miles total.

I actually did this ride in July when it was about 95 degrees. I tried this ride last year but was unable to make it to Jemez Springs because of a strong headwind on the way to San Ysidro. On this day there was very little wind. The heat really did not bother me very much.

I began the ride on the west side of the city but I will just cover the route from the Santa Ana Casino from the Corrales- Rio Rancho post. If you need to see how I got there just refer to the Bosque trail and Rio Rancho-Corrales posts.

Santa Ana Pueblo to San Ysidro- 22 miles

Sandoval County landscape

At this point I had already covered 23 miles since I left home. That route was mostly on designated bike lanes and trails. The route from Santa Ana casino to Jemez Springs is mostly on the shoulder of US route 550 and New Mexico Highway 4. I consider both of these roads to be safe bike routes. I believe US Route 550 is also known as State road 44. I appears on my maps as US 500.

Route 550 is a two lane highway and a major road from the Albuquerque to the northwest part of the state. It has a wide shoulder and is mostly free of debris. There is also a grooved rumble strip near the white line as to alert cars and trucks if they are veering onto the shoulder. Hwy 4 by contrast is a slow, winding road with a narrow shoulder.

The first five or six miles on Route 550 are uphill. It is a steady long, slow uphill ride in one of the higher gears. It heads in a generally northwest direction away from the Albuquerque metropolitan area. It will cross two Indian reservations on the way to the town of San Ysidro.

Somewhere around the crest of the hill the route passes by the Rio Rancho subdivision of Enchanted Hills. As the last house goes by the route leaves the Albuquerque metropolitan area and enters the desert of Sandoval county.

After the crest of the hill is a nice downhill ride. You do feel quite a breeze as the semi trucks pass by. Then the road begins to flatten out and stays mostly flat until San Ysidro. The first Indian reservation is Santa Ana Pueblo. The next reservation is Zia Pueblo which borders Santa Ana. There are 19 Pueblos in New Mexico and they are each considered to be a separate tribe. They speak speak several languages but most of the pueblos in the Albuquerque area are Keresan speaking. There are signs at the entrances to the pueblos that tell you more about the tribes.

After entering Zia Pueblo there is a billboard that reminds us that this is where the Zia sun symbol originated. The Zia symbol is the red sun symbol on the flag of New Mexico.

Further down the road is a gas station on Route 550 near the entrance to Zia Pueblo where you can refill your water bottle and take a rest. I forgot to mention that once you leave the Santa Ana casino area near the intersection of routes 550 and 528, there is a 17 mile stretch with no place to get water. You had better fill up before you leave.

After leaving Zia Pueblo is a historical marker about the Spanish explorer Francisco Vasquez de Coronado. He and his expedition traveled along this very route in 1541 on their way to their winter camp near what is today the town of Bernalillo.

After Zia Pueblo is the town of San Ysidro where the next section of the ride begins. It is also the end the flatness of Route 550. The next twenty miles or so to Jemez Springs are almost all uphill.

San Ysidro to Jemez Springs- 20 miles

San Ysidro is at the entrance to Jemez canyon which cuts into the Jemez mountains. The route is mostly a two-lane winding road. There is a shoulder with adequate room and the traffic is not very heavy and travels at low speed. This section takes you through some spectacular scenery and three distinctly different towns.

The first town is San Ysidro, which is a small Spanish village. There really isn't a town there but a collection of houses that are spread out along Hwy 4. San Ysidro has a rural feel to it with horses and plenty of open space. Some residents make the commute into the Albuquerque area to work.

San Ysidro Church

The second town is Jemez Pueblo. It is known as Walatowa in the Indian language. The most impressive feature are the red rock cliffs just north of the pueblo. The earth suddenly changes from light brown to a vivid red color. It only lasts for a half a mile or so and then it changes back. There are usually some food vendors selling fry bread at this location if you need to load up on calories for the ride back.

The third is Jemez Springs which is somewhat of a retreat village. It is most famous for its bath houses, restaurants and bed and breakfasts. There are some religious retreats including a Buddhist center. Jemez Springs makes a good weekend getaway from Albuquerque and Santa Fe.

As I said earlier, the route from San Ysidro to Jemez Springs is a slow, winding route. It goes through Jemez Canyon along Jemez creek. The canyon is quite narrow in some locations and is very colorful almost everywhere. The canyon floor near the creek is lined with cottonwood and aspen trees.

The uphill ride to Jemez Springs is about 20 miles but is actually easier than is seems. There are a few steep hills here and there but the climb is spread out over a distance. Every few miles there are rest areas where you can pull over and rest. These are actually called Fishing Access areas. Anglers can pull off here during the day and try to hook a trout or two. There are restroom facilities at the Fishing Access areas but no place to fill your water bottle.

It felt good to see the Jemez Springs city limit sign which meant I had finally accomplished my goal which I was unable to do the year before. I stopped at a grocery store and had something to eat and bought a few bottles of sports drink. It was about one o'clock when I had reached Jemez Springs and I only rested for a half an hour. I was anxious to begin the journey back to Albuquerque. Besides the route would be going down hill for the first few miles.

The Return Trip

There was one especially difficult section of the route. It was just north of the Jemez Valley High School. A section of Hwy 4 makes a very steep dip. It wasn't difficult on the way up but coming back the sun was very intense and I had already been riding for about 6 hours. I attacked the hill standing up on the pedals and it worked quite well. I was very winded at the crest of the hill but was able to recover quickly. There was one more big hill on the way back to San Ysidro but it wasn't as difficult. After that it was mostly downhill.

I did come across a pack of mangy dogs on the Jemez reservation. They didn't bother me but it made me think that I might want to bring some pepper spray on the next out of town trip. In the five years I have been riding in the city I have never had trouble with dogs. Dogs or even coyotes might pose a problem when riding through the desert. I may bring a cell phone also.

I passed through San Ysidro and began the return trip to Rio Rancho on Route 550. Just south of San Ysidro is a white bluff about a quarter of a mile off the road. I think it is a gypsum mine.

Gypsum mine

I stopped and rested at the gas station at Zia Pueblo. It is called the Big Chief gas station. So much for political correctness. I bought some more liquid for the trip to Rio Rancho. I also bought a gallon of cold water and went to the side of the store and poured it over my head. I felt really good as the heat was starting to take it's toll on me.

As I mentioned earlier, there was a nice downhill ride after climbing a hill after leaving Rio Rancho. Well, this downhill is now uphill. As I headed to Jemez Springs I made a mental note of every downhill. Each downhill means an uphill climb on the way back. The climb on Route 550 was the most difficult of the ride because I was now beginning to tire. I had been on my bike for nearly 8 hours by this time.

But I managed to climb the hill and coasted down the other side to Enchanted Hills. I cut through one of the neighborhoods and was back on Route 528 and back into the Albuquerque metropolitan area. I was once again on familiar ground. I usually do the Rio Rancho- Corrales ride at least once a month. I traced the route back through Corrales and then onto the Bosque Trail.

When I entered the Bosque Trail I knew I was getting close to the end. It is only about 12 to home from the Alameda Trailhead. I also knew that the trail is mostly flat and would be able to conserve my energy. The only real obstacle left was the climb up the West Mesa at Pat Hurley park.

I arrived at home tired but with a feeling of accomplishment. After five years of serious bicycling, I had finally completed my first Century (100 mile) ride. This ride was a total of 128 miles. My odometer said 65 miles when I reached the grocery store at Jemez Springs. Somewhere on the way back I lost 2 miles. I think it may have been where I cut through Enchanted Hills.

I dont' know what next year's long ride will be. I am thinking of a ride to the top of Sandia Crest. I almost did this one last year also. I am also thinking of a ride down the valley to Bosque Farms.
I will scope out these routes this winter and see if they are safe rides.

Thanks for checking back

See these websites for more information:

Jemez Mountain Trail
Indian Pueblo Cultural Center

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Photo Gallery Three: Memorials

One of the advantages of cycling in a city is that you can get a more intimate view of that city. Here in the Southwest there is a tradition of erecting improvised roadside memorials to relatives and friends who have died. Usually they are victims of traffic accidents and the memorial is built upon the location of the accident.

Many of these memorials are set up on public property owned by the city or the State Highway department. I'm not sure what the official policy is these memorials but they usually are allowed. The friends and relatives are usually allowed to set them up and maintain them for years to come.

Here are a few I have come across on my rides throughout the Albuquerque metropolitan area.

Heidi Mason - University boulevard near the UNM Championship golf course.

Iben Browning - Girard boulevard near the airport

Kathy Ferreira - Rio Rancho, Route 528 near Presbyterian Hospital

Memorial day - Corrales, NM

Rece Nord, young bicycling accident victim- Taylor Ranch

Stan Mallory - Paseo del Noreste trail

Tommy - Paseo del Norte trail

Victims of Homocide memorial - Pat Hurley park on the West Mesa

Workers memorial - San Mateo boulevard and Constitution

- Brian

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Albuquerque International Airport Bicycle Access

A reader and fellow bikeblogger, Larry Lagarde of New Orleans inquired about bike trail access from Albuquerque International Airport. He was specifically asking about how to get from the airport to the University of New Mexico

Airport exit

I never really gave much thought to getting to and from the airport by bicycle. As it turns out, the airport is very accessable by bicycle.

When leaving the terminal, you can take the Girard blvd exit instead of the main exit to Sunport and Yale blvds. Most of the airport automobile traffic uses the main exit. Girard blvd is rarely used. In fact, the Girard blvd lettering on the airport exit sign is smaller than the other lettering.

Girard blvd

Girard blvd then crosses Gibson blvd after about a half a mile. There is an actual bike trail on the west side of Girard as you leave the airport but riding on the street is safe. As it passes the golf course it becomes a one lane road through a residential area.

Ernie Pyle Library on Girard

The route is only about 2 1/2 miles and a half hour from the terminal to the intersection of Girard and Central avenue near the University of New Mexico. You can access other trails from UNM such as the Paseo del Norte trail on the other side of the campus.

Central and Girard (UNM)

Larry was interested in an easy route from the airport because he runs a blog where he sells folding bicycles. He has done some traveling where he flies into a city with his bicycle, unfolds it at baggage claim and rides the city trails. He is also collecting information about city bike trails across the country on his blog, RideTHISbike.

If you do fly into Albuquerque and then ride the bike trails, please remember to take it easy at first. You may struggle if you are coming from sea level to the high altitude air of the Middle Rio Grande valley.


Sunday, July 31, 2005

Rio Rancho - Corrales Loop

Alameda Trailhead - Alameda Bridge - Loma Larga bike route - Casa San Ysidro - Corrales Road bike route - Route 528 bike route - Santa Ana Star Casino - Tamaya Resort - Rio Rancho blvd bike path - Intel plant

Loma Larga Bike Route

Most of this route is actually not in the city of Albuquerque but in its northern suburbs and outlying areas. There are considerably less sights than the previous routes but there is plenty of variety on this route. Rio Rancho and Corrales are neighboring suburbs but are as different as night and day.

This ride is mostly bike lane and shoulder but there is some street riding. The portion of the route in Corrales is almost completely flat but the Rio Rancho section has a few rolling hills. It is mostly safe but a few sections do have heavy traffic.

There are three distinct parts to this route. The first part is the slow, easy ride through the semi-rural village of Corrales. Part two is the challenging rolling hills of the Route 528 bike lane. The final part is through the dynamic suburb of Rio Rancho.

The village of Corrales is a classic Southwestern town with brown adobe houses and corrals full of horses. You won't find many green lawns in front of these adobes, just the natural desert vegatation of sage, wildflowers and juniper. I believe the village dates back to the 1700's but is now known for its artistic community and Bed and Breakfasts.

Corrales House

The City of Rio Rancho is the classic All-American suburb. It consists of single-family homes with green lawns or xeriscaped front yards. Rio Rancho only dates back to the 1970's but has quickly become the fourth largest city in New Mexico. Its biggest landmark is the gigantic Intel plant just across the city line from Albuquerque.

Beginning the route:

Section One: Alameda Trailhead to Route 528 (8.2 miles)

A good place to begin is at the Alameda Trailhead parking lot as featured in the Bosque Trail blog. The Alameda Trailhead is also the beginning point of the Bosque Trail, so you could combine the Rio Rancho-Corrales loop with all or part of the Bosque Trail for a longer ride.

The route heads right as you leave the parking lot. It immediately passes under Alameda Blvd which will take you to the Alameda Bridge. There are actually two bridges where Alameda Blvd crosses the Rio Grande. One bridge is for automobile traffic and the other is for pedestrians, bicycles and horses. The pedestrian bridge is wide enough for automobiles and may have been used for automobile traffic at one time. There is a great view of the Rio Grande and the Sandia mountains on the north side of the bridge.

After you cross the bridge, you will stay on the sidewalk for about a half a mile. The sidewalk is wide and is rarely used by pedestrians. When you reach the intersection of Alameda and Coors rd, the route will make a right turn towards Corrales. This is a busy intersection and there is very little shoulder but we won't be on this road for very long. Coors road, which now becomes Corrales road is not a good bicycle route. This is the main road through the village and is where the main commerical district is located. There is almost no shoulder on this part of the road and it not very safe.

The best way to ride through Corrales is on Loma Larga road just a few blocks west of Corrales road. The village recently finished a bike lane which runs most of the length of Loma Larga. It runs through mostly residential areas and has very light traffic.

Loma Larga road is only about a half a mile from the intersection of Alameda Blvd and Corrales road. Just take Corrales road about 100 yards to Calle Cuervo and make a left at the Diamond Shamrock station. Calle Cuervo ends at Ellison road. If you make a right turn on Ellison, it shortly becomes Loma Larga road.

We now leave the city of Albuquerque and enter the village of Corrales. This is also where Bernalillo county ends and Sandoval county begins.

Loma Larga road mostly runs the north-south length of the village roughly running parallel to main Corrales road. There are no commerical buildings, like convenience stores but you can easily reach Corrales road by one of the many side streets. This is a very flat road in a residential area. Most of the houses here are in the pueblo or adobe style. There is a rugged look to this residential area. Many of the side streets are unpaved and the houses are not laid out in a uniform pattern like most suburbs.

Jones Urban Pond Monument

There is a monument on Loma Larga dedicated to a local volunteer, Annette Hise Jones who worked to preserve urban ponds in the area.

There is one stop you may want to make on the Corrales section of the route. It is Casa San Ysidro , a living museum of a 19th century New Mexico ranch house. Although it is located in the village of Corrales, it is part of the Albuquerque Musuem of Art and History.

Casa San Ysidro is located just a half mile off Loma Larga road. There is a sign at the side street of Mission Valley road. The house is located at a small crossroads near a church and a cemetary.

Casa San Ysidro

The cemetary is not very well kept but has very interesting grave markers. Some are simple military-style marble stones like you would see in a National Cemetary. Others are improvised with wrought iron enclosures with park benches and astroturf and there are also Lady of Guadalupe shrines. They all seem to be improvised and maintained by relatives and friends.

San Ysidro Church

About two and a half miles past Casa San Ysidro, Loma Larga comes to an end at Corrales road. The route continues for about a mile and a half on Corrales road with a very narrow shoulder and some uneven pavement. However, the traffic is not very heavy for this stretch of road and it is generally safe.

Corrales road then ends at Route 528 and the route enters the city of Rio Rancho. The route then makes a right turn onto Route 528 at the Giant convenience store. The Giant is a good place to stop and rest. It has a few picnic tables and you can refill your water bottle.

Route 528 to Santa Ana Casino Roundtrip (11.2 miles)

From the Corrales road junction, Route 528 is mostly long, rolling hills. There is an adequate shoulder for riding but traffic does travel at high speed. Even so, this is a very popular route with serious bike riders in the Albuquerque area. On Saturday mornings you will see packs of cyclists on this section of the route.

Route 528

This section of Route 528 has very few cross streets and very few traffic signals. This is much of the appeal of Route 528. There are few interruptions along the route. There are only a few entrances to the River's Edge subdivisions along the route. The route is generally straight but with long, rolling hills that don't give you much trouble.

After the route leaves the River's Edge subdivisions (there are three) it enters Enchanted Hills. Route 528 crosses and recrosses the Bernalillo city limits several times but we never really leave Rio Rancho. The route comes to an end at Route 44 and the Santa Ana Pueblo Indian reservation. This is where the Santa Ana Star Casino and the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort and Spa are located.

The casino is run by the Santa Ana Pueblo Indian Tribe but I believe it is actually located in the town of Bernalillo. The town is located a few miles east on State Road 44 in the direction of the Sandia mountains. Bernalillo is not very accessible by bicycle from here but there will be a trail to Bernalillo to the Alameda Trailhead sometime next year.

Until the casino was built a few years ago there wasn't very much at the intersection of Routes 528 and 44. Now the intersection has a casino, resort, golf course, soccer complex, restaurants and other businesses. The intersection is starting to fill in with more houses.

The Tamaya Resort is actually a few miles down Route 528 past the Tamaya gates, though it is not accessible by bicycle. I tried to reach the resort but there is a sign on the road where you turn off that says "No Bicycles".

We are not here to play blackjack or to get a facial, so it is back on the bike and back to Albuquerque. The casino is at the far north end of the route and we head back the way we came. It is the bike lane on Route 528 headed south towards the Corrales road intersection.

When the route reaches the Corrales road intersection at the Giant convenience store, it continues on Route 528 into the city of Rio Rancho.

Corrales road intersection back to the Alameda Trailhead (8.4 miles)

The Route 528 bike route continues through the city of Rio Rancho. The route is still mostly shoulder and there is a fair amount of debris and uneven pavement for the next few miles. I do consider this a safe bike route even though traffic does increase as it gets closer to the center of Rio Rancho. Just be careful from the Corrales road intersection to Southern blvd.

When you reach Southern blvd, there is a genuine bike trail! The city rebuilt this section of Route 528 (Rio Rancho blvd.) just a few years ago and they did include a bike trail on the east side of the street.

Rio Rancho blvd bike route

This is a good bike path but it does cross several intersections at street level. Since it is a new path many drivers are not familiar with it and do not look as they make a right turn. Some crossings do not have a traffic light. Be careful when you cross any street in this area as motorists may not be expecting a bicycle.

The biggest landmark on this route is the huge Intel plant near the intersection of Sara road. It stretches for about a half a mile along Rio Rancho blvd. It was built in the mid 1990's and is one of the largest employers in the Albuquerque metropolitan area. In fact, Intel helped pay for the road improvements to Rio Rancho blvd due to a 5:00 bottleneck at this location.

Rio Rancho Intel plant

As you pass the Intel plant and come to Westside, the route crosses over Rio Rancho blvd to where Don Chalmers Ford is located. You can find it by the large American flag. Do not try to go down the hill on Rio Rancho blvd as there is no safe bike lane.

The route goes makes a right turn past Don Chalmers on the American road. There is an enormous hill just a quarter of a mile later. You will be glad you rode the route in this direction because it is a very steep hill. It's one of the steepest in the metropolitan area.

At the bottom of the hill you can make a left on Cottonwood drive even though it says you can't make a left turn. There is a small concrete barrier to keep cars from making a left but a bicycle can get through. There is rarely any automobile traffic on this road. This will take you back into the village of Corrales. Make a left on Cielo Vista del Sur and it will take you back to the beginning of the Loma Larga bike route. Once you have reached this point, you can do the first part of the route from the Almeda trailhead to the Loma Larga bike route in reverse.

What I enjoy about this ride is that you can see the past and future of the middle Rio Grande valley in one ride. The past is in the traditional village of Corrales with Casa San Ysidro. The future is in the growing city of Rio Rancho and the Intel plant.

Also, it demonstrates the advantages of cycling versus driving an automobile. This is a route I discovered by necessity. I was trying to find a better way to access the city of Rio Rancho than by the big hill on the American road. I ended up discovering the Loma Larga route in the process. I had never before driven on Loma Larga road and would likely have never seen the Urban Pond monument and Casa San Ysidro. You never know what you will find on a bicycle.

Thanks for visiting.