Trail-a-Week: Foothills Open Space
Dudes, I'm serious when I say "skinny tires." The velocipede between my legs is a single-speed street bike, so when someone suggested I get off the asphalt, I was like, ew. But then I was all, hmm. I've never been mountain biking ever. Why? It’s scary. I'm not x-treem enough. I could fall into a cholla or succumb to derailleur angst. And dirt and granite just tend to clash with my cute spandex threads.
Oh, readers, life is full of things to dread, isn't it? Mountain bikes, cacophonous radio commercials, that dream where I cut off all my hair. But I mustn't let anxiety crush me. For you, I went mountain biking this weekend in the Foothills Open Space at the base of the Sandias.
I strapped my mountain bike, a big ole hand-me-down Giant, to my Mazda and drove to the Open Space. Hell no, I wasn't about to ride all the way up there. That bike is slower than a Hoveround on the street. Plus there’s the risk of being seen astride something so unglamorous. Half a dozen bike-type people were milling in the parking lot, tugging on their x-treem performance gear wedgies as they loaded their intimidating x-treem velocipedes into their x-treem vehicles. Warily, I mounted my wheels and started pedaling up the trail.
To get to this section of the Foothills Open Space, take Spain east of Tramway and turn right onto High Desert. The parking lot will be on your left.
Some of the trails in the Foothills Open Space are wide and sandy, and some are single-track ruts. If you go, you'll encounter lots of hikers and dog-walkers, several blisteringly accomplished x-treem mountain bikers, and a Biblical plague of gnats. The views are just, like, oh my god. Mountain, valley, river, mesa. If you're one of those morons who hates Albuquerque and is always complaining, first of all, we're not friends anymore. Second, why don't you take your bike or your hiking boots up to the Foothills and see if that don't cure what ails ya?
So there I was, toiling up the trail. The thing about mountain biking? It's not easy. At first, I would automatically dismount and walk, street bike style, every time I came to a rubbly patch of bedrock in the road. When I finally remembered to try to ride over one, it shook my skull so hard I felt like a bobblehead on the dashboard of a Datsun. My bike was in the second-lowest gear, but I was wild-eyed and sweating and struggling to move that rubber over granite. Going downhill was a veritable fiesta de brakes y skids. I lost my bike out from under me twice but managed to plant my hands and feet well enough that no blood was shed. Whew. It wasn't until I was almost back to the parking lot that I realized I was utterly exhilarated and feeling like a conquistadora on my two-wheeled steed.
Victorious, I cruised out of the parking lot and went sailing around the foothill streets on my Hoveround, the bike lane smooth as silk under my fat tires. It's back to the pavement for Betty Sprocket, folks, but thanks for the mountain memories.
Betty Sprocket, professor emeritus of the Skinny Tires Department of the University of New Bikexico, is here to lecture you about Albuquerque's many magnificent bike trails. You'll learn about a new one each week, so please take notes and do remember to do your homework: Get out there and ride.