Biking the Bosque

This is my bike.

There are many like it but this one is mine.
There are many like it but this one is mine.

This is my first bike in 25 years, and I have been a little scared to get on it. What if I fall over? What if I can’t balance and pedal at the same time? What if I run into a cactus? How do I go uphill? Or worse, downhill? How do I use these “gear” thingees?

BUT, they say riding a bike is just like riding a bike, so I packed it into my car and hauled it all the way out to the west side of Albuquerque (the Alameda – Bosque trail head, to be precise) to give it a go. Knowing that the trail along the Bosque is paved and flat was a confidence-builder; I could find a comfortable gear and just leave it there.  Also, I figured that hey, if I fall off, at least no one I know will see me.

I got out to the trailhead at about 11:15 a.m. and the temp was somewhere between “mid-day mid-summer” and “face of the sun” and I thought, Oh I could totally use the heat as an excuse to put my bike back in the car and like, go to a movie or something.

But I gave myself a little pep talk (that might have involved ice cream) and set off south down the trail. Immediately, I realized I was not in a good gear because my feet were flying and I was going nowhere. So (not yet fully understanding gears), I randomly flipped a switch with my thumb. A little better. I could feel the pedals kind of “grabbing” — I’m sure that’s a technical term — and it seemed I had ALMOST achieved a partnership between my feet, the pedals, the wheels, and the road.  Another few thumb clicks in the same direction got me to a comfortable gear that I didn’t dare mess with the rest of the journey.

Ok, I’m cruising now. I can look around at the scenery! To the right: cottonwood trees, brush, then the Rio Grande. To the left: small farms, horses, stables.

Flat road. No pressure.
Flat road. No pressure.
Rio Grande with water in it! Enjoy it before it's gone.
Rio Grande with water in it! Enjoy it before it’s gone.

So I rode until my GPS told me it had been 3 miles, then a little more for good measure. I turned around and parked my bike on the “shoulder” (gravel area between the paved path and the ditch which led to a further ditch/arroyo down below). I got off my bike and stretched my back and rubbed my butt. Then hopped back on and almost confidently pedaled my way back to civilization.

I saw a lot of people out biking on this trail — people like me, out for a joyride, and people on triathlon bikes and matching team riding gear hauling ass past me in bright yellow blurs. I also saw a couple of walkers and one jogger. Everyone was good at sharing the road and making room for each other on the path.

I did notice that folks were not overly friendly out here in the Bosque. I gave everyone I saw a little wave or nod or smile, but most of them ignored me. This could be due to the fact that my “exercising smile face” probably looks more like someone being eaten by a bear than someone happy to be out in the sun exercising. Or maybe they were just hot and tired and feeling like they were being eaten by a bear, too.

I got back to my car at the trailhead without incident. I even managed to shove my bike back into my hatchback while only stabbing myself in the face/neck with my handlebars TWICE. Go, me.

Then, just to prove to myself what I badass (or dumbass) I am, I followed up my 6.3 mile bike ride with a Couch-to-5K run/walk interval session. Does this make me a biathlete (at least for a day)? And if I had fallen off my bike, somehow INTO the Rio Grande, I could have called myself a triathlete, right?

Oh, and what is this? It was alongside the Rio, and looked to me like some kind of wrought iron Blair Witch Project.

Heavy Metal Blair Witch
Heavy Metal Blair Witch

Overall, a big thumbs up for the Bosque trail system. I will definitely be looking into more trails out here along the river and elsewhere for biking, hiking, and jogging in the coming months.

Got an ABQ area trail you love and recommend? Let me know in the Comments below! Or a New Mexico trail that’s not in ABQ? I’d like to hear about those, too. We try to do lots of day and weekend trips, and often want to get some exercise in between all the enchiladas and cheeseburgers.

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