Best Road Cycling in Albuquerque

Albuquerque is the first town I’ve lived in that really embraces bicycling. There are miles and miles of trails throughout the town, some better than others, but even when you find yourself without a trail you’ll notice that most of the drivers are aware of cyclists and give you room.

One of the most popular rides is the Bosque Trail. It follows the Rio Grande from Rio Bravo up north to Alameda, is mostly flat and goes under major roads so won’t have any stops along the way; unless you want them.

There are several areas where you can park and get onto the trail, but I usually start at the Rio Bravo end (near 2nd street) and head up to Alameda, where I turn around and head back. It’s advertised as 16 miles for a one-way trip, but my GPS tracker puts it closer to 14 miles each way. If you want to avoid people, you’ll need to start early in the day. The Bosque Trail is very popular and if you go later in the day you will have to contend with other cyclists, runners, walkers and horseback riders. If you enjoy going fast and find motivation in passing people, then you’ll enjoy an afternoon ride.

The area near Rio Bravo isn’t in the best condition; there are cracks and bumps in the trail that can be very jarring on a stiff frame. It’s only the first few miles, however, and if you want to get the most distance out of your ride it’s just something you will have to deal with. Once you get past the bumps it smooths out for the rest of the ride.

It’s quite the scenic ride. Occasionally, you’ll have glimpses of the Rio Grande, you’ll pass near the zoo and if you look carefully you can usually see the polar bear. Road runners are common as are lizards and sometimes snakes. Keep your eyes peeled, there’s a lot to see.

Another great ride is to head up onto the West Mesa. If you start on Rio Bravo (it becomes Sen Dennis Chavez) and head west you’ll find yourself facing a great hill. It maxes out at 6% grade and can take awhile to climb. After you crest, look over your shoulder and you’ll have a great view of Albuquerque. You get a short break from your climb then it’s another climb to Paseo del Volcan. When you hit the stop sign turn right and ride as far as you desire. You can ride uninterrupted up to I-40, where you’ll find the first stop sign and can turn around if you wish. If not, carefully head over the interstate and you can ride much further.

Once you’ve passed the interstate you’ll have to ride in the lane of traffic; the shoulder is just in too bad a shape without having shocks on your bike. Watch out for two sets of cattle guards; you’ll want to be out of your seat when you pass over them. Trust me.

Eventually, you’ll find yourself riding through cattle grazing land and may find yourself with an audience as the cattle watch you pass. A little further on you’ll pass by the cinder cones, mounds of lava rock that are quite pretty. Double Eagle airport will be on your left and if you continue even further you’ll run into Paseo del Norte. From here, either double-back or take Paseo del Norte and find another road back to where you started. Unser would be a good choice, but you’ll have lots of traffic lights.

The Paseo del Volcan ride is beautiful and peaceful. It’s rare to find another rider out there, but you will have to watch out for cars that always speed and don’t always give proper space when passing. The fields are beautiful and the views of Albuquerque are a great reward for all your efforts. When you come back, if you take Rio Bravo, hold on and prepare for a fast descent. I’ve been known to hit speeds in excess of 45 mph and that can be a frightening if you aren’t used to it.

There are many other trails in Albuquerque, but these are two of the best. If you want a great ride, with great views, make sure you check them out.

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