A Snow Day in the Sangre De Cristo Mountains

The last time I lived somewhere that got consistent snow was New York City in the early 2000s and that ain’t exactly the kind of snow you want to go playing around in on your bike. It should come as no surprise that moving to Santa Fe has taken some adjustment over the past year – pandemic aside – having four real seasons once again meant I had to evaluate my cold-weather gear and look into getting a fatbike under me for the proper powder days.

Towering above our town are the Sangre De Cristo Mountains, the terminus of the great Rockies, and you bet we get snow both in town and up high in the mountains. Even with la Niña gripping the West in the driest monsoon season on record, we’ve been fortunate to get a few snow dumps here and there, with this week’s precipitation being the highest all winter thus far.

There’s this trail up in the mountains called Winsor. It has a long history, typical of the colonial west where some guy built a house up in the mountain and used a primitive road to bring supplies from Santa Fe up into the Tesuque Peak drainage. That old doubletrack road has since been mostly overgrown and reclaimed by Ponderosa, Aspen, and other vegetation. The drainage flows most of the year thanks to the normally abundant snowfall, so it acts as a great water refill spot if you were to go out for an epic, all-day jaunt in these vast mountains.

I haven’t skied since I was 18 or so, in the mountains of Vermont, and while I piece together a kit for our home slopes, I’m biding my time riding this custom-painted Otso Voytek for a review. As a diehard cyclist, I still can’t give up afternoons like this. The day will come however where I’d rather ski than ride a fatbike but for right now, I can’t get enough…

Winsor is a very popular shuttle in town, with most people starting near the Ski Santa Fe ski basin. There’s usually a Blue Bus that will pick you, your mates, and your bikes up before dropping you off at the top for a $5 fee. Truth told I’ve shuttled Winsor twice this year, and both times were on snow days with fatbikes. Every other time, we’ve climbed it. This isn’t me bragging, rather than pointing out the fact that climbing 11 miles on singletrack is completely acceptable and is just the start to endless trail networks cascading around the many mountains just a raven’s shit from town.

On Monday, Bailey from Sincere Cycles and I got dropped off up the mountain thanks to my partner Cari. We packed food, warm drinks, and took off on inches of fluffy, sparkly powder. The prior attempt to shuttle this ride with fat bikes in tow resulted in afternoon Ice Capades. When a mere dusting of snow falls over half-melted trails, you end up riding on off-camber, icy singletrack. Not fun. This time, however… was bliss.

Bailey took his jack of all trades, master of all trades Moné hardtail up with a 2.6″ tire – which was perfect after I plowed through with the Otso’s 4.5″ tires. The pogies kept my camera hands mostly warm, and as I fumbled with a new, more compact camera, we managed to get some banger images that will hopefully stoke y’all out!