Villanueva

- July 22, 2011

"...this was one of the best rides of the year - both for scenery, variety, and a great meal at the end..."

Another early day and an early start. That meant a 5:00 a.m. wakeup call in order to be in the Eldorado parking lot near my house by 7:30. That, followed by a 45-minute drive to the Villanueva exit where our ride began today. See the map below (if you're at tripsandquips.com) to get an idea of where Villanueva is relative to Santa Fe and Eldorado. (Thank you Google Maps.) The drive is beautiful, however, and I really enjoyed it. As a matter of fact, I enjoyed it so much that I videoed some of it on the way home. You should never operate a video camera while driving. For locals, this footage will be insufferably boring, but for my out-of-state friends---well, they may be able to get the feeling that they were in the car with me. So I’ll post that as a separate page, and you locals can save yourselves some tedium. 
 
Turnout was excellent as you’ll see in the photos below. If you’re reading this at SantaFe.com, you’ll have to visit me at Trips and Quips in order to see all the photos and video. Despite the drive time, this seems to be a popular ride. It’s the first time I’ve ridden it.
 
This time of year, it can get really warm during the afternoon hours. Consequently, it’s a good idea to start your rides early. In fact the earlier the better. I would have liked to have been on the road by 8:00 because the heat got to me today!! I needed much more water/electrolyte than I had with me. Of course, it should be noted, that I had stupidly skipped breakfast because I was hurrying to get out of the house. Excuses, excuses. This is basic-cyclist-operating-procedure---you do NOT skip breakfast. I thought I could eat a power bar on the way out, but it’s just not the same thing. Despite that, this was one of the best rides of the year----both for scenery, variety, and a great meal at the end.

I was surprised to see how many steep climbs there were, after being told that the ride consisted mostly of “easy rollers”. One “hill” in particular was about an 8% grade for over a mile and half. I wilted on that one and that was fairly early in the ride. I knew then that I had a challenging next several hours of riding ahead of me. Still, I managed to stay with the group pretty much AND get some nice photos as well, which is always high on my priority list. Stopping, photographing, and then hustling to catch up with the main pack is always tiring, and it was particularly so today. This is a good group to ride with, however, since they seem to keep an eye out for everyone. Thanks Edwin for being a good ride-leader in that regard. Much obliged.

I also liked the way the “A” group had to stop and wait for some of our riders; and this allowed the “B” and “C” groups to catch up to us. It was fun having that many riders on the road at once all together, and it was nice to see some new faces. Our total entourage probably outnumbered the population of many of the hamlets we rode through. This was definitely “rural” New Mexico on parade today and you can be sure: not a lot of English is spoken in these rural/farming parts of the state. But, we were greeted by the smell of freshly mown hay and THAT is a universal language.

At the end of the ride, or near the end I should say, we stopped at a wonderful restaurant called La Risa Cafe in Ribera. This was an unexpected treat. The interior had that typical New Mexico combination of warmth, charm and history. Frank ordered a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich, and it must have been 5 inches thick, served on toasted bread, with plenty of fresh lettuce, and beautifully presented. He couldn’t finish it, but Karen was right there to claim the remaining half. Too bad, I would have challenged her for that tasty treat. So instead Mark and I shared a delicious chicken and avocado sandwich with chips---also delicious. We did the same thing on the last ride. The salads, burritos and sandwiches all looked great; and the staff were friendly and very helpful. I consider this place a real “find” and I will be back.

See you on the road, and Happy Trails to you from Santa Fe, New Mexico.