Let there be dirt! Entering City Open Space from the Park and Ride Lot – the toughest climb of the ride

The Caja del Rio Gravel Grinder was a cycling event on May 19 encompassing thirty miles of dirt roads and trails, as well as some paved roads and urban trails, to take Bike and Brew Festival participants from the Santa Fe Railyard out to the Caja del Rio unit of the Santa Fe National Forest and back.

This ride was billed as a GUSTO Study ride because we were actively exploring how to connect from downtown to La Tierra Trails, through Las Campanas to the future Camino Real Trail and the Caja del Rio, using as many dirt trails as possible.  The return route used two pieces of the Santa Fe River Trail sandwiched around Agua Fria St.

Topping out above the Park and Ride Lot – smooth sailing ahead (weather permitting)

Good to grind!












Despite the snow that has become typical of Bike and Brew events, about 25 participants and seven volunteers completed the ride, with additional support of three more volunteers.

Take a left at the second manhole cover…





About 15 miles later: Coming into the Caja del Rio near Buckman Water Treatment Plant



Still not sure how Peter got this shot








If you missed the Gravel Grinder event, you can still try out the route for yourself, though we won’t be there to help lead you (which is the best way to do it).  The resources below can help you find your way:

Click on image for larger view or better yet check out the pdf links to left

Caja del Rio Gravel Grinder: Map of 30-Mile Route with Turn References

Caja Gravel Grinder: Turn by Turn Directions (70 easy steps!)

Many thanks go to our hearty volunteers, with particular shout-outs to . . .

– Peter Olson and Patricia Peck for doing the ride twice, with various forms of precipitation each time, flagging it on the trial run and making sure

Volunteers Patricia Peck and Peter Olson help scope out the return route a few days earlier, with the Santa Fe River glistening in the background at San Ysidro Crossing   (T. Rogers photo)

everyone made it out and back on the day of the event.  …And to Patricia’s friend too, who showed up as a volunteer on the morning of the event.

– Fearless BTI volunteers Rusty, Riley, and Evan for helping bring up the middle and rear, and especially for removing all of the yellow tape as we completed each section – not the most glorious task but very greatly appreciated (so I did not have to do the ride a fifth time!)

– Noah Richardson for coming up from Albuquerque and dealing with the snow, wind, uncertainty, and long periods of loneliness out at Headquarters Well Trailhead

– Mat Long and Clemente of Sirius Cycles for inspiration and signage

– Max of Jamis Bikes for some awesome demo’s – the Renegades rocked the gravel! – and Mike Chapman of Broken Spoke for hosting Max’s fleet, as well as my ancient Gary Fisher hanging from his ceiling for a few days

– Brian Bargsten of Arroyo Vino for providing water at the start of the Las Campanas Trail, which we very well knew we would need, and took advantage of, even though relatively early on in the ride

– Julia Belt of the Santa Fe County Horse Coalition for working with the County to have Buckman Rd. graded, eliminating the worst of the washboard ruts we would have had to deal with

– The Las Campanas homeowners association for providing use of the Las Campanas Trail, which was a great part of the ride, and especially for having their maintenance team grade the trail prior to the ride (woo-hoo!)

– City, County, State, BLM and SFNF for providing great roads, trails, parks, and open space for us to enjoy

– Tim Fowler and Kerry Helke for organizing the Bike and Brew Festival and sending volunteers and participants our way

– All participants for being good sports about the weather and any other unforeseen challenges.

That was a lot of fun and I am looking forward to the next edition of the Gravel Grinder!

All photos by Peter Olson unless specified otherwise