A bike can be a liberating tool for a youngster. I got the first bike that I could travel distances on when I was 14. Granted it was a beach cruiser but hey, we lived at the beach. I’d carry my skateboard and even a surfboard to spots after school and on the weekends. It was a vessel of adolescent liberation.
For Jonah, a local of Santa Fe, and an employee at Mellow Velo, the bicycle has helped develop his independence as well as a vehicle to meander around his homeland. His family is one of the deeply embedded heritage households and have been in the area for hundreds of years. Just north of Santa Fe is the town of Chimayo where his family has been weaving for generations under the brand Ortega.
Santa Fe is full of this kind of heritage. Even the building we shot this bike in front of, the Palace of the Governors, was built around 1618, back when it was a Spanish colony called Nuevo Mexico.
His home is surrounded by the Nambé Badlands, an endless desert of eroded drainage lines made up of interwoven trails, all managed by the Bureau of Land Management. Within this network is a short but scenic trail, perfect for riding a plus bike. In the summer, it gets hot, as it’s exposed. In the shoulder seasons, it can be very muddy, with the thickest caliche you could imagine – some of which is still on his bike – but somewhere in between results in the perfect dirt.
So how did a youngster like Jonah get his hands on this sweet bike? Well, working at Mellow Velo, he was presented the opportunity to buy the frame second hand and since he lives at home still, he was able to spend his paycheck on parts and bags. Not a bad gig for a twenty-something. He’s been whetting his ax with bikepacking in recent months and this is the perfect bike for the Santa Fe area, with its endless access to trails all around town.
This is a Kokopelli Warthog, their 29+ hardtail model, complete with a chainstay yoke, plenty of clearance, and slider dropouts. Kokopelli makes their bikes overseas and the frames retail for $1,800…
The way he accessorized his bike reminded me of the vibrant weavings his family is known for with Serfas bar tape protecting his chainstay from slap, the Oveja Negra frame bag, and a hit of turquoise on his dropper shifter, thanks to the PNW Components Loam lever. To up the ante, I handed over a 28t 44RN ring from our webshop. It matches the Kokopelli head badge quite well!
I would recommend you follow Jonah on Instagram but like a smart kid, he doesn’t have one!
Once Covid subsides, I’m hoping to get out on the Nambé trails with Jonah and hopefully out on some bikepacking outings. We’re all glad to see New Mexico’s numbers on the decline but we have a long way to go. Be safe out there, everyone!