Sierra Vista is all cruiser singletrack. 14 mile RT out and back with a quarter-mile section of thorns (yes, more bloody legs). On this ride you need to stay RIGHT ON the trail or be prepared to fix a lot of flats. To get there - keep heading east on the same road you took to A Mountain and take the next paved road right (not the one into the subdivision - the next one). Soon you will see a fire station and the road will swing east....keep going. You will start to climb up towards the Organs and you'll see a pull out trailhead on your right (marked with a BLM sign). Start here and head toward Mexico. The trail rolls in and out of several arroyos and will cross a few 4WD roads and finally end in a gravel parking area. Look for the brown carsonite makers along the way. Mostly pretty smooth with a couple of ridable sandy stretches.
Day two in Cruces started off good. Clear skies, warm temps. We loaded up drove into the main part of town a scored a bad-ass breakfast for two with coffee for less than 10 bucks. Esentailly the same thing you would get in Northern NM, but for half the price.
To get there: from I-25 and University head east on University (toward A Mountain - it's the big rock sitting in the middle of the valley). After a few miles you will see a few radar towers on your right (this is the first trailhead) or you can continue east for anoth 1/2 mile or so and park at the next big pull out. The trail circumnavigates the mountain so it don't really matter which one you start at. The trail is a mix of rocky doubletrack and smooth singletrack with a few technical spots trown in. There are a few feeder trails heading south and west and also to the top. There is also a dirt road that heads to the top from the south side of the mountain. Tons of feeder doubletrack heads east for the east side and supposedly hooks in with the Sierra Vista trail - but we couldn't figure out how to link it. Me thinks we not too smart.
At the trailhead - Them there are the Organ Mountains
Taint real easy - even on a 29er
Givin' it a go on the 26er
I felt bad riding over all of these innocent babyheads
After the long 300+ mile drive south to Cruces, we secured a sweet suite at the world famous Sands Motor Lodge (Indian owned as we had hoped). After getting the hairy eyeball from our partially evolved motel neighbor, whose room was full of empty "Bud" cans, we made our way to SST, northwest of town.
Perfect winter day for shorts and t-shirts (welcome after a month of slogging through the snow and ice up north).
The directions are pretty much right on, off of Rocky Acres, just take the first dirt road that sweeps left, go up a quarter mile or so and stop where the road gets too hairball. Look for the piles of bullet shells. You've arrived. Unload and ride up the hill to the west and locate the small water tanks - stay left of that and you'll soon see the trail heading off to the right.
The SST is a pretty tough trail that does not get much use. Although Dave and I determined that even though it's very technical - it's all ridable (Hans Ray would have no probelms) . Some fun rocky stuff to mess around on and other sections that are just plain loose as hell and not fun to mess around on. The trail is about 6 miles one way but probably only about 1.5 miles as the crow flies from start to finish. The trail ends at a jeep road that will zip you back to the parking lot if happy hour is looming - otherwise do it as an out and back. It's damn twisty and obviously built for mountain biking but takes a huge amount of concentration just to clean it all without running into a giant piles of cactus. It's probably a good idea to run tire liners or Stans. I didn't have either and was lucky to limp in with two slow leaks by the end of the ride. Dave was running Stans and had no problems. The cactus are brutal since they hang over the trail and are impossible to avoid. Fill an extra with bottle with plasma because I guarantee you will be losing blood after an hour.
Bring yer bikes, Band-aids....and uh, guns
Looking for the trailhead - wasn't obvious to us.
Look for these tanks and then head up this road
Part trail - part monster
gettin' down and gettin' up
SST - Super Shredded Tires trail
This trail will eat (cheap) tires - about 15 missing lugs ripped to the threads
Bike loaded, we headed west to check out Rincon de la Vieja NP, about 3 hours or so from the house. Had every intention to ride but was unsure of trail conditions, access etc. Now that I know the sweetness - next time I will bring the mountain bike and take the same route that we ended up hiking. Also, I have just found out - that the trail to the volcano rim is open to bikes.
To Rincon. Took the wrong way through Liberia and ended up going to the back entrance (with no services) by accident. No tent, no food, no beer...we needed "services". This back entrance road looks like a good ride - 20 miles or so of slickrock (tuff). Will have to check this out another time.
Found the right road and ended up staying at the Rincon de la Vieja Lodge, which is right on the edge of the park. Good location yes, but very expensive for what you get (which ain't much). I would not stay there again. There seemed to be an unusually high percentage of gringos hiking with carbon fiber walking "sticks" (or whatever the hell they call them.
Don't stay at the lodge - instead, I would go one turn off past the turn off to the lodge (couple hundred yards?) on the right. There is a sign there that says "termales" referring to the hot springs that you can hike to from this point. You can probably camp here (I'm guessing) - looks promising. Otherwise the are much cheaper (and cooler) places down the road back towards the Pan Am.
At the "termales" trailhead you can jump on some really rooty and rocky singletrack that will first take you to El Mirador (an abondoned building [hotel] of some sort on a high spot with views to the ocean) then (maybe 3km more) to a really sweet hot spring. You will smell it long before you reach it. It looked like a really great place to soak - but being 85 degrees and 90 percent humidity, we were warm enough and had no desire to get "warmer". Hike over the low ridge to the east and there is an even sweeter one. back on the main trail - another 8km or so you'll cross a creek and then hit the park boundary (a rickity wire fence) go through and in another 1km or so you'll hit the third hot spring with a hot creek. Then you start to climb. It gets slick and dense and there are tons of monkeys and other animals. We saw two types of monkeys, coatis, agoutis, a keel billed toucan, crown billed mot-mots and all kinds of crazy shit.......hiked most of the day and did not see anybody until the last km or so when we got close to the park entrance. Lots of geothermal action going on everywhere - it's like Yellowstone without the people...and Yogi.
It's a "tuff" road ahead. The road to the back entrance of the park. Looks like Los Alamos.
Some fordin' action
Random bubbling mud in the jungle
Wooo Hooo - let's git nekid
Jen and the strangler fig - coming to a theater near you
Metallic bugs galore - this one is as big a German Shepard
Got to Cahuita and the waves were crazy so we could not do any snorkelling and surfing was also out of the question too. Did a ride from Cahuita to the indian village of Bri Bri near the Panamanian border. The road, part dirt and part paved, was packed with locals riding thier bikes to work or school or wherever. It was early in the morning and I was sweating like mad. A pack of kids saw me coming and jumped on my wheel with their beat up old bikes but couldn't hang when the road started climbing into the mountains. Lots of bananas...everywhere. Stopped to take a picture and set my Camelback down for about 2 minutes and didn't realize it was setting on an ant hill - FULL of fire ants. I put it back on and the ants were all over me - stinging and biting - not cool.
Adrian (our conserje supremo) took me on a few rides while we were there. This one to El Mirador was the only one I remebered to bring the camera on. It's maybe a 12 mile ride (roundtrip) from the house and climbs a high spot on the Cordillera de Tilaran - the main mountain range in the north part of the country. It's called El Mirador because from the top you can see the area on the east side of the range down to Lake Arenal and Volcan Arenal. Right now the volcano is continuously erupting so I was psyched to see some action - except on this day there were too many clouds and you couldn't see jack. The ride is a pretty much one big climb and one big decent. It had been raining some so it got a tad muddy towards the top. Adrian is a stong rider (his mountain bike is pretty much his main mode of transport) so we got up there pretty quick. The area is a mix of native cloud forest, coffee farms and areas cleared for dairy cows.
Adrian the "Tractor" plowing through the slop
Nearing the top on the rutted out "trail"
Adrian hammerin' the last stretch
At the top con mucho nubes
A dry stretch
In the tropics, it's very important to rehydrate after a hard ride