THE FIRST SUMMER I OWNED A MOUNTAIN BIKE, the trails at Glorieta Camps almost shut me down. When rocks or a steep pitch spit me off my bike, I stepped into mud that stuck to my shoes and caked on so thickly that soon I was sliding off my pedals. I hiked, or slid, more than I biked. But on that drizzly morning, I could see those woods held something worth exploring, even if it was bigger than I could handle. So I scaled back.
Just east of Santa Fe, Glorieta holds some of the best purpose-built mountain biking trails around, with varying levels of difficulty marked, like ski runs, in green for beginner, blue for intermediate, and black for expert. I found a beginner line and pedaled enough laps on it that I could remember how to hold my speed around a corner before a dip so momentum would help me out of it, how to follow the smoothest line through rocky stretches, even how to anticipate the golden glow through ponderosa pine trees on after-work rides. By my third summer, I was confidently tipping the frame to bank corners, dropping far enough off the back of the seat to roll down steep sandstone fins, and seeking out more technical lines.
Henry Lanman III, owner and builder for Rocket Ramps, which creates bike trails, credits Glorieta Camps director Anthony Scott for those many options. Scott reached out to the Santa Fe–based bike-trail- and ramp-building company with the dream of a new, intermediate “flow trail” riders could cruise without pedaling. He sketched out a rough zone, then left them to hike through the woods with pin flags, choosing a reasonable slope and avoiding cliffs.
“It was a doozy,” Lanman says. Last summer’s robust monsoon season, which sometimes dropped enough rain to destroy days of work and delay others, created the biggest obstacle. “You have to wait for it to dry out,” he says. “And while you’re waiting, another rain event comes and washes out even more.”
Still, the Chips & Salsa Trail opened to riders in October. More than 300 people came to greet it with a party, whooping over its rollers, banking through its stacked berms, and testing themselves on some airy launches and rock hops, between catered snacks and beverages. “A big part of what we like about trail building and riding bikes is bringing the community together,” Lanman says.
On a quieter night, I ripped my way downhill through the trees and roller-coastered over its tabletops, all those miles on easier ground carrying me through new territory.
OneUp EDC (Everyday Carry) Tool System
Ted Jaramillo and Henry Lanman III, co-owners and trail builders with Rocket Ramps, never leave home without a multi-tool to adjust seat height, reset loose bike parts, or even tighten cleats. “I won’t pack a tube. I’ll forget a water bottle,” Lanman says. “But I use a multi-tool every single time.” The EDC V2 Tool ($69.50) stores in the steerer tube and serves as hex and torx wrenches, a flathead screwdriver, a Presta valve tool, a spare chainring bolt, a chain breaker, and more.