Weekend Trip: Taos, NM – South Boundary Trail, Talpa Traverse

For the Memorial Day Weekend, the ladies and I decided to take an impromptu getaway up to Taos.  So stoked we did.  I’d been looking forward to going there since I got to Santa Fe a couple months ago, and heard some of the best riding in the state was there.  Game on.

It’s only about 1 1/2 hours from Santa Fe, nice.  On the way up, we stopped and did some beer tasting at the Blue Heron Brewing Co. in Rinconada.

hmmm, which one to try first?

Pretty bad ass IPA.  Nice.  Across the way was this cool art gallery that made everything from recycled “junk” – they even had this awesome muffler monstrosity.

muffler graveyard

From there on out, it’s a gorgeous drive, with the Rio Grande snaking along the highway.  Seeing these people hooting and hollering down the river, made me wanna jump in!!

people river rafting on the Rio Grande

Then we found this guy slanging jerky on the side of the road.  Nothing like fresh buffalo jerky on a road trip.

jerky for you. jerky for me.

Finally, we made our way into Taos (along with 1,000 other schmeckels).  Luckily we found a room at La Fonda in the Plaza.  The town was packed with tourons like myself for the holiday weekend.  Lots of bikers and fakers with brand new chaps and Honda touring bikes were abound.  We checked in, scoped the scene, and it was already dinner time.  Hit up a french themed place (even though they served all kinds of food) referred by a friend, called The Love Apple.  I’d definitely recommend this spot to anybody.  Organic and local grown fare – I had the pork tacos and Angela had an apple and carmelized onion quesadilla with orange creme freche dipping sauce.  Yumm.  Yumm.

The Love Apple Restaurant – Taos, NM

Lucy playing at the Love Apple Restaurant

After dinner, I decided to burn some calories with a ride – the raved about Talpa Traverse Trail.  It’s only a few miles from town center, so I rode from the hotel to the trailhead.  I got out to the trail just as magic hour was ending, so I started the ride with some ambient light, but most of it was done with the help of my Exposure MaxxD and Joystick – I love night riding!!.  This was a perfect “after dinner” ride- a nice warmup to digest my feast, before hitting the goods.  Narrow, tacky, and flowy – dippy and grippy – rollercoaster turns and Star Wars lighting made it feel like Space Mountain.  What a blast.  Almost the whole time, I could see the lights of Taos off in the distance.  Absolutely fantastical.  The ride was about 15 miles total, with 8 of it being a super buff, top notch out-n-back.  Me likey.  Sorry I didn’t snap any pics.  Too dark for my old skoo iPhone (all these “hipstermatic type” pics are with my wife’s new iPhone, I take my oldy on rides).

Rusty chair -reminded me of a bike wheel

The next morning, I was up early to tackle the mountain biking gem of Taos: The South Boundary Trail.

South Boundary Trailhead

This is a 22 mile point to point.  It starts near the town of Angel Fire and squiggles it’s way back to Taos.  Most people pay $20 to get a shuttle to the trailhead from the local bike shop (Gearing Up Bike Shop – it’s a great shop, and the owners Rey and Sherry are super cool and give out free stickers).  Luckily, Angela was nice enough to drive me to the trailhead, and then she and Lucy had brekky in Angel Fire (ps- there is a ski resort/ mountain bike park at Angel Fire, and I can’t wait to hit that soon too!!)  Anyhoo, about 4 miles from the trailhead, the dirt road gets pretty rocky and rutted – not great for a 2WD rental car.  After about 2 miles, I had Angela just drop me off.  Glad I did.  It got even steeper, and more trecherous.  I climbed about 1,000′ over the last 2 miles up to the trailhead.  Most riders probably don’t wanna do that initial climb, but it sure woke my legs up.

Anyhoo, once on the South Boundary, the first couple miles are steady climbing up doubletrack.  You get up to about 10,800′.  I was thinking, “this is so-so”.  But I knew in the back of my head I eventually had to drop down to 7,000′ – so I had to start descending soon… and then you make a right turn on some narrow singletrack- BOOM- it begins!

Buff singletrack on South Boundary Trail

Four miles of pristine, pristine singletrack – through aspen forests and lush mountainsides.  Fast and furious.

Aspen grove on South Boundary Trail

Comparable to the Whole Enchilada in Moab.  After this section, you hit a little bit of fire road and doubletrack, and then BOOM – you hit another  9 mile section of bliss.  Fast and flowy, rollercoaster status singletrack magic.  The last few miles steepen a bit (remember, you do have to get down to 7,000′ eventually), and it gets more techy – again, reminded me of the Porcupine Trail in Moab.  I forgot I was riding a rigid singlespeed, and sequestered my inner Aaron Gwin – what a frickin blast!!  All the way down to the end, where Lucy and Angela were waiting for me in the parking lot.

After dismantling the bike, and a quick change of clothes – we were off to lunch at Eske Brew Pub(right behind the bike shop).  A cheeseburger and some local green chile beer repelenished the reserves.  Then we made it over to the Taos Pueblo.  So amazing to see the original adobe structures, and that people still live in some of them!!

Cemetery at Taos Pueblo.

Super cool, and great for Lucy to see.   We were all spent, and it was time to head back to Santa Fe.  Good Times like J.J.

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