Sunday, April 9, 2017

For the Love of Gravel

I'm admittedly naturally drawn to mountain biking over road cycling, but road riding became a lot more interesting once I realized that "road" needn't mean "asphalt".

For a place like Socorro, most modern road bikes suck. 20-25mm wide tires, 90 psi, and aggressive geometries all add up to a harsh ride on less maintained roads, and forget about hitting that gravel or two-track path. Fortunately, parts of the bike industry have caught on, providing 'randonneur' or touring bikes, and more recently gravel bikes.

I've entered this world of 'alternative' road bikes and I'm never looking back. Upright geometries, wider 21-25mm hoops and 700x40c tires at 30-35 psi are awesome for exploring! Faster than you're 29er XC bike, but still rugged enough for the odd bit of single track.

Suddenly there's a whole other world out there to explore. This last weekend's ride is shown below, along with a number of other connecting two-tracks I've explored recently or intend to soon.

Break free of the asphalt chains and go explore!

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Ride Report: Bosquecito Road

Bosquecito Road runs along the east side of the Rio Grande, starting at Pueblito to the north, and ending at Hwy 380, just east of San Antonio. It's roughly 16 miles long. I had never ridden its full distance, having heard of deep sand traps...

When recently riding the Quebradas Byway, I noticed Bosquecito Road had fresh chip seal heading south from Pueblito. The southern part of the road, at the intersection with Hwy 380, also looked paved. That was enough to tempt me us out for an exploration ride.

The chip seal is only present for the first two miles on the north side and perhaps three miles on the south side, but it was a surprisingly pleasant ride. Rumors of unridable sand were overblown, though rain on Monday definitely helped, since the mud had dried out in the valley and the sandier sections through the Quebradas were still relatively well packed.

The road meanders through the Bosque before rising above it to the east, flanking the Quebradas. It's different than the Quebradas byway, offering some time in the Bosque followed by nice vistas of the valley, though conditions are definitely a bit rough.

Expect some ruts, wash boarding, and sand, and hit it up after light rain for the best riding experience. That being said, finding a line that works is half the fun on a gravel bike!

Overall ride report:
  • Vehicles passed: two.
  • Loose dogs: one (and a benign one at that).
  • Chatty geese: too many to count.  
  • Recommended setup: 700c x 40mm minimum. 
  • Round Trip Distance: 35 miles, connecting through Farm to Market Road and Hwy 1 back to Socorro. 
  • Best Season: Fall, after the leaves turn should be optimal. 
  • Other Need-to-Know Info: Wait until it's rained, then hit it up 3-7 days later.