Finishing

Today I decided to finish the bike ride from Sunday.  Drove with my bike to the end point of Sunday’s ride.  It was about 35F but the sun was shining brightly and I probably should have paid more attention to the wind forecast—-at 6MPH out of the North the wind was not only cold but also blowing right in my face for about 7 miles of the 9.53 mile ride.

Anyway,  heading out onto the Las Cruces Loop Trail and the desert landscaping:img_3073

That’s perhaps the nicest scenery along this section of the trail.  Heading north, the trail parallels I-25 on the east side and a major boulevard on the west side.  After a couple of miles there are some nice views:

img_3074

Water Tank

After the only short steep climb on this section is the Water tank.  The painting depicts the journey from Mexico north along the El Camino Real and the Jornada del Muerto.

img_3077

Picacho Peak

Picacho Peak dominates the Western skyline.  It is visible from our house and all over Las Cruces.  Not as high as the Organ Mountains to the East but sitting as it does on the West Mesa it presents a landmark for the area.

img_3078

Robledos

The Robledos Mountains extend to the North from Picacho Peak.  They are the location of the Prehistoric Trackways National Monument.  At this point, I’m about halfway through the ride.  From here, it’s flat to downhill and there’s a reprieve from the wind as the trail veers West.

img_3126

The Trail Heads West

That’s the Loop Trail heading West, where we rode on Sunday.  The Rio Grande is about three miles down that trail.

img_3127

South Along the Ditch to Las Cruces

There are miles and miles of maintenance trails along the irrigation ditch system.  This trail heads South into the City of Las Cruces, perhaps three or so miles.

img_3134

North along the Ditch towards Home

And this is the trail North towards home.  The wind has died down a little but it’s still right in my face.  On a calm day I can hold 9-10 MPH along this trail but today I’ll average about 7 MPH.

img_3136

Twin Peaks

Off to the East is Twin Peaks, easily recognizable by the antennas for both cellular phones and wireless internet access.  Unfortunately one needs line-of-sight to the towers for the internet provider access and the pecan trees surrounding our house prevent that.  Stuck with Comcast, sigh.

img_3137

The Dona Ana Mountains

I believe I’ve mentioned before that we have almost 360 degree mountain views from our front patio.  These are the mountains to the North, the Dona Anas.  There are several good hiking and biking trails there, as well as some petroglyphs.

img_3163

Choice

At one point, about a mile from home, there is a choice confronting the rider.  The great New England poet, Robert Frost, spoke of the “road not taken.”  The great New Jersey poet, Yogi Berra, said “When you arrive at a fork in the road, take it. ”  And I followed both of their instructions.

Gang Aft Agley

So spoke the poet, Robert Burns.  He was referring to my annual bike ride the day after Thanksgiving when he said “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley.”  That was the case this year, for sure.

I ride the Las Cruces Loop trail several times a year but always the day after Thanksgiving to burn off that celebration of gluttony.  The map indicates the trail is 18.7 miles but I have to add another 4 to 5 miles to access the mapped portion, making the total ride 23-24 miles.  This year I was stymied by a flat front tire about 2 miles into the ride.  I returned home, repaired the tire using a tube I had in the garage left over from the San Juan hut trip from 2014 and resolved to ride over the weekend.  So on Sunday, I took my trusty Marin East Peak out of the garage only to find the tire flat again!!  I filled it with air and saw the green Slime the tube was filled with permeating through the tire tread.  Slime is a sort of puncture-sealing/preventing concoction that is a necessity here in the desert Southwest where there are all kinds of hazards to bike tires like goat-heads, thorns, cacti, and the Las Cruces roads themselves.  Monday trip to the bike shop on the calendar.

img_3055

Nice New Tire

The new tire installed I planned another attempt at the ride.  My step-son, Ben, offered to accompany me the next weekend.  Set up the ride for Saturday.  Wrong!!!  A cold front came through accompanied by winds getting near hurricane force all day Saturday.  No way we were riding in 40 to 50 mph gusts with 25-30 mph sustained wind speeds. So about 10AM Sunday we set out in 34F temp with a slight wind from the east.

Down the ditch known as the Leasburg Canal to the intersection of the loop trail.  This irrigation canal is a necessity for the farms in the area.

img_3032

One of the gates that diverts water to the pecan orchard

You can see the ditch is empty this time of year.  It does make for a convenient storage place for tumbleweeds though.

Riding along, heading south then west, there are always some interesting sights:

img_3033

Vineyard

The ultimate in home protection

img_3049

Guinea Hens

By now we are about 4 miles into the ride, heading west toward the Rio Grande.

img_3050

Picacho Peak

We turned South along the east bank of the river.  The trees and grass indicate the “wetlands” or green belt along the river as it winds through the Chihuahuan high desert.  Of course, the river only flows through this area a few weeks a year in the spring and early summer when its waters can be tapped for irrigation.  This time of the year, it’s better for doing doughnuts with your ATV:

img_3052

After about 3 1/2 miles along the river the trail transitions to road riding through the historic town of La Mesilla then through the campus of New Mexico State University (GO AGGIES!!):

 

Across the street from the campus is a shopping center with a nice market and Milagro Coffee.  This is a natural place to take a break, about 15 miles into the ride.  Relax, have a latte and a biscochito or cheesecake.  Refreshed, we remount.  One more good climb then it’s all downhill.

But Mr. Burns had other plans.  As we progressed through the parking lot there was a plaintive cry: “Dad, I’ve got a flat.”  Ben had recently redone his front tire but not the rear from which he extracted three thorns.  So, back to Milagro, call for a ride, and wait.  Better luck next time!!!!