Getting around on a bicycle offers a unique way to experience your surroundings and explore places you may not otherwise go. In New Mexico, there are plenty of road bike routes to discover, offering scenic views and diverse landscapes. You can ride solo or seek out a bicycling club in your area to join up with like-minded individuals for a fun and social experience.
“(Joining a bicyclist group) helps you find routes that you might not have found on your own,” said Frank Bouchier, ride and mileage chairman for the New Mexico Touring Society (NMTS), an Albuquerque-based recreational bicycling club for riders of all abilities. “We get out when we go on our rides; we’ll stop for lunch or go onto the brewpub and hang out together.”
While you can always create your own road biking adventure, here are some recommended routes throughout New Mexico worth checking out.
SOUTHWEST NEW MEXICO Bike Routes
Las Cruces International Airport Out and Back (LAS CRUCES)
This is a 20.8-mile out-and-back route that begins at Plaza de Las Cruces downtown and ends at the Las Cruces International Airport, 8990 Zia Blvd. The route to the airport is a continuous, steady incline, but cyclists can enjoy a relaxing ride on the way back. The journey takes you across the Rio Grande, through Fairacres, and onto the frontage road, going west, until you reach the airport. While there, stop for a meal at Jim Bob’s BBQ, which specializes in chopped brisket, pulled pork, and pork ribs. It’s located at the airport and is open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
Source: George Pearson at ridewithgps.com/routes/35572234
Leisurely Ride through Pecan Orchards (Mesilla)
This is an easy, 10-mile, flat ride through the pecan orchards near the historic town of Mesilla. The loop starts at the Mesilla Town Hall, 2231 Avenida de Mesilla. Follow the route south, on Calle de Parian and Calle del Sur until you reach Snow Road. You can return to the starting point by going up Highway 28. However, if you don’t want to ride on the highway, turn around at Snow Road/Highway 28 and go back the way you came.
CENTRAL NEW MEXICO Bike Routes
Breaking Bad Tour (Albuquerque)
This ride is great for fans of the award-winning American crime drama television series Breaking Bad, which was filmed in Albuquerque. The 44-mile route creates an oddly shaped loop through the city and goes to many of the show’s filming locations, including Walt’s car wash, Walt and Skylar’s house, Tuco’s headquarters, and Saul’s office, to name a few. You can start near Plant World, 250 El Pueblo Road NE.
Nexus – Bad Ass (Albuquerque/Bernalillo)
For those who enjoy the brewpub scene and coffee, this route is for you. The ride starts at Nexus Brewery and Restaurant, located at 4730 Pan American Freeway NE in Albuquerque. The route takes you through Corrales and loops around Cleveland High School in Rio Rancho. At the halfway point, stop for coffee at Bad Ass Coffee of Hawaii, 965 US-550, in Bernalillo. Then return via NM 313 and the Northern Diversion Channel Trail to Nexus.
NORTHEAST NEW MEXICO Bike Routes
Enchanted Circle (Taos)
The NMTS describes this as being “one of the best rides in New Mexico.” The route begins in Taos and goes up to Red River before returning. The 84.4-mile loop encircles Wheeler Peak and Taos Ski Valley. Riders can enjoy mountainous views while passing through Arroyo Hondo, Questa, Red River, Eagle Nest, and Valle Escondido.
Santa Fe Ski Area Round-trip (Santa Fe)
This challenging 30-mile round trip up NM 475 (Hyde Park Road), takes you out to the parking lot at the Santa Fe Ski Area and back to Fort Marcy Recreation Complex, 490 Bishops Lodge Road. You’ll start at an elevation of 7,040 feet and climb to 10,300 feet. As you head toward the ski basin, you’ll pass through Hyde Memorial State Park, which can be used as a marker to rest or a turn-around point. If you want to keep going, continue through Santa Fe National Forest. Aspen Vista Picnic Ground makes a good place to stop a short distance from the summit.
SOUTHEAST NEW MEXICO BIKE ROUTES
Carlsbad Caverns/Sitting Bull Falls Round-trip (Carlsbad)
This 70-mile ride begins at Cavern City Airport on U.S. 62/180 just south of Carlsbad. Ride for about four miles southwest on U.S. 62/180 to the junction of Eddy County Road 408 (Dark Canyon Road). Then, turn right and start your journey through a limestone-walled canyon near Carlsbad Caverns National Park. The road continues to NM 137. Turn left and ride about 2.5 miles to Lincoln National Forest Road 276. Ride the final 7.6 miles to Sitting Bull Falls, a popular recreation area with a waterfall, large pool, and cave features. You can take a break and enjoy the scenery here before heading back to the starting point.
resources For Bike ROutes
To find more road bike routes or create your own, Frank Bouchier recommends visiting ridewithgps.com.
“Ride with GPS is a way to let people publish their routes,” Frank explained. “It’s used all over the world. It’s useful if you’re new to an area to search routes there to find pleasant bike rides that other folks have posted.” You can also use similar sites, like mapmyride.com, bikemap.net, and strava.com, or reach out to one of the cycling groups or bike shops in your area.
No matter where you choose to ride, it’s important to exercise caution and follow the rules of the road, especially when riding in traffic. George Pearson, League of American Bicyclists cycling instructor and president of Velo Cruces, the voice of the cycling community in Las Cruces and the Mesilla Valley, said the two most important things to remember when it comes to bicycle safety are: Be predictable and be visible. “To be visible, wear bright clothing,” George said. “When it starts getting dark, turn the lights on.” George recommends having both a white light on the front of your bicycle and a red, blinking light on the rear.
“To be predictable, follow the rules of the road,” George said. “Stop at traffic stops and red lights. Don’t go swerving in and out of traffic. If there is a line of parked cars and then a gap where there are no parked cars, don’t go swerving into the gap and then back out on the roadway. Keep a consistent path along the road, so vehicles can see you and expect that you’ll be there.”
Just get out there
If you’re new to bicycling or intimidated by the longer, more intense bicycle routes, George said the best thing to do is to just get on your bike, start small, and work your way up to longer rides. Aside from the obvious benefits that come along with riding a bike, such as improving health, saving money, and reducing harmful emissions that pollute the atmosphere, it’s also simply a fun activity.
“(Riding a bike is) freedom — freedom to get out without anybody telling you where to go, the feel of the wind, and the accomplishment of going someplace on your own,” George said. “There are lots of reasons to be riding a bicycle,” he added. “So, you just need to get out there, even if you can only do it once a week. Just get out there, get on your bike, enjoy the ride and enjoy freedom.”
NEW MEXICO CYCLING GROUPS
• BikeABQ: A group that educates and advocates for the rights of cyclists and works to create and preserve safe biking environments. Info: bikeabq.org
• Cycling Peeps: A group of women ages 18 and over who love to ride bicycles. Info: meetup.com/CyclingPeeps
• Duke City Wheelmen Foundation: A nonprofit helping to bridge the divide between the cycling advocacy community and recreational cyclists. Info: dukecitywheelmen.org
• Rio Cycling Club: A highly diverse and growing club for Albuquerque cyclists. Info: riocyclingclub.com
• Slow Roll 505: Group bike rides for everyone. Info: facebook.com/slowroll505
• New Mexico Touring Society: Recreational bicycling club for riders of all abilities, from beginners to experts. Info: nmts.org
• Bike & Chowder Club: Founded in 1984, this informal group of cyclists meets regularly to ride, converse, and chow down. Info: bikeandchowder.org
• Velo Cruces: A nonprofit focused on transforming Las Cruces into a great bicycle and pedestrian community. It communicates events, advocates for bike-friendly laws, and promotes cycling. Info: velocruces.org
• ZiaVelo Cycling: A club promoting a healthy lifestyle and an arena for competitive road and mountain cycling, recreational cycling, and cycling education.
• Mesilla Park Cycling Group: Amateur cyclists looking to share riding, stories, techniques, and ideas. Info: facebook.com/groups/MPcycling
• Bike Santa Fe: An organization working to create community and encourage safe, accessible cycling and to promote bicycles as a healthy, affordable, environmentally-sound means of transportation and recreation. Info: bikesantafe.org
• Santa Fe Seniors On Bikes: A group of road cycling enthusiasts who meet up to ride the Santa Fe area. Info: santafesobs.com
• Socorro Striders and Riders: A community organization that focuses on running, biking, and triathlon events in the Socorro area.
Info: stridersandriders.blogspot.com or visit Socorro Striders and Riders on Facebook.
• Roswell Bike Club: A group promoting road biking, mountain biking, and racing in and around Roswell with weekly bike rides offered.
Story by Alexia Severson | Courtesy photos
Originally published in Neighbors magazine | 2023This article was posted by Olivia