Santa Fe/Taos, New Mexico – September 29, 2012


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Today I drove to Los Alamos, New Mexico which is about 42 miles northwest of Santa Fe.  I went to the Pajarito Mountain Ski Area for Ullrfest.  It is a festival featuring mountain biking, live music and beer.  As I neared the ski area I started noticing snow along the edge of the road.  Once I got there I saw there that was a thin layer of snow on the mountain.  They had the main ski lift operating to take the riders and their bikes to the top of the mountain at 10,300 feet.  There were a variety of trails available from logging roads, cross country trails and free ride downhill courses.  Never having done this type of riding, I rode the easier trails.  They were still steep in areas and the surface was really rocky.  It made for a pretty bumpy ride.  Of course the snow made for slushy areas and water puddled up or running down the trails.  It didn’t take long before I was a muddy mess.

 

The day started out cool, but sunny.  I got in three runs before I took a break for lunch.  During lunch, some clouds moved in and it rained a bit.  There were eleven New Mexico Breweries represented at the festival.  For $15 you got a cool commemorative Ullrfest pint glass and all the tasting that you wanted.  You also got a ticket for one full pint and could buy others if you wanted.  I tasted beers from all eleven breweries and then got a pint of my favorite, the Santa Fe Oktoberfest.  A band called The Felonious Groove Foundation was playing on the deck of the ski lodge.  They had a costume contest too, with most that entered dressing in some sort of viking attire.  I saw one guy dressed in a pink furry suit……not sure what he was supposed to be.

 

The lift was open until 3:00pm so I decided to try to get in a few more runs.  When I got to the lift it had started raining again and they shut it down temporarily due to lightening.  I waited about 10 minutes and they started it again.  It lightly rained on me all the way to the top and I was really cold when I got off the lift.  By the time I finished my run, the sun had come out again and between that and riding I warmed back up.  I got on the lift again 15 minutes before it closed down and got in one final run for a total of five for the day.  I rode a total of about 15 miles and managed a top speed of 22 mph despite the rocks.

 

I only had one minor crash and I think it had to do more with my beer consumption than it did my riding skills.  It was one of those slow motion crashes when you can’t get your foot unclipped from your pedal and you fall over.  But apparently my butt landed on a rock because it left quite a mark.

 

I drove back to Santa Fe and returned my rental bike to the shop.  I went back to the hotel, cleaned up and relaxed a bit.  I drove a short distance to a place called the Tune-Up Cafe.  It has been featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.  They were Santa Fe’s Restaurant of the Year for two years in a row.  They offer New Mexican and Salvadoran dishes.  I had a Tune-Up salad to start which was mixed greens, roasted beets, carrot, cucumber and sherry vinaigrette.  For my entree I ordered the El Salvadoran combo which consisted of a banana leaf wrapped chicken tamale, flank steak pupusa, with roasted tomato salsa, rice and cortido.  The pupusa was very unique.  It’s a traditional Salvadoran dish made of a thick, handmade corn tortilla that is filled with cheese, meat and refried beans.  They must pan fry them because it had a nice crispy texture on the outside.  The cortido is traditionally served with pupusa and is a fermented cabbage relish.  As I was driving to the restaurant I had second thoughts because it didn’t seem to be in a very good part of town.  As I drove up, there were cars everywhere and people waiting in line.  I took that as a good sign and parked and went in.  I’m glad I did, it was excellent.

 

After dinner I retrieved my bicycle shipping box from the hotel office and got my road bike packed up again.  Fed Ex will pick it up on Monday for the trip home.  I fly home tomorrow afternoon.

One interesting thing about the town of Los Alamos that I visited today is that it’s the home of the Los Alamos National Laboratory.  The world’s first atomic bomb was developed at the Laboratory in 1945, and detonated at a site about 200 miles to the south.  Today their mission is to develop and apply science and technology in the interest of national security.  The highway I was on that led to the ski resort passes through the Laboratory’s property.  As I approached from the south I came upon what looked like several turnpike toll booths.  I thought I was going to have to pay a fee to go through.  A sign instructed all vehicles to stop.  There was a security guard there and he motioned me on through.  On the way back to Santa Fe, there was another similar checkpoint on the north end of town.  I asked the guard what the stop was for.  He said if he told me, he would have to kill me.  He laughed and then explained it was a security checkpoint for the National Laboratory.  He said it was mainly for large trucks.  So, I guess if you want to sneak in, don’t drive a large truck!  Seemed like pretty loose security procedures for a place that’s concerned with national security.

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