Snow and Sunsets in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains: Things to be Thankful For

What a year it’s been. To be honest, as the editor/owner/curator of this website, I was very nervous about how we would survive the pandemic and subsequent lockdown. So much of my work that goes into this site is about traveling to other communities, documenting shops, group rides, races, and yeah, people’s bikes. All that was put on hold and we had to resort to more bike galleries and reviews than I’m used to.

My passion comes from the aforementioned activities and while I love bikes, I love what they create and enable even more. All year, I’ve been personally battling a pendulum of moods but one thing that has been the great equalizer is a jaunt into our mountains, the Sangre de Cristo Range, the southernmost tip of the Rocky Mountains. Living on the last stop on the Colorado Plateau has its perks I suppose and a simple hour or two-long pedal in the foothills often gives me perspective that is much-needed in this year of uncertainty. It’s something I have to remind myself daily. Yesterday was a perfect example.

Now, this is a short gallery. Nothing to be slack-jawed about but I wanted to use some images that aren’t part of a bigger project to express gratitude to all y’all, the readers of this site.

It snowed yesterday in town and in the mountains. As walls of clouds rolled across our range, I watched with interest. Later in the afternoon, the light broke and I text my friend Kyle – one of the small group of people I ride with her to limit my contact with humans during this deadly pandemic – and we met up, pedaling toward Atalaya Peak.

This climb is the hardest singletrack climb in town, ATMO, and the only reason I like it is for the views of the Sandias and Jemez mountains. While I miss the in your face front of the Sierra, the Inyo, Panamint, Funeral, and White Mountains in California, I wouldn’t trade our pleasant subtleties found here in Santa Fe for anything. It’s easy to take a photo of an escarpment at sunset in high-contrast glory but rather, here in Santa Fe, I look to the light, the shadows, the mellow hints, and the change of atmosphere to throw a frame around.

What we were greeted with yesterday just put things in perspective for me and the overwhelming sensation of gratitude, perspective, love, and hope were only overpowered by the poor choice in gloves I brought on the ride. The snow was falling, the orb of warmth was rolling over the horizon and the temperatures were dropping. My riding mate and fellow photog nut were stopping every ten feet with calls of “HOLY SHIT” as the light changed the landscape.

For the first time, the descent took longer than the climb.

Pedaling home, I felt incredibly lucky. Not just for the bounty of images safe and secure in my camera’s SD card but to still be here, documenting the beauty of cycling. I feel very lucky to have this site, which you are visiting right now, reading this sappy story. I feel lucky to have friends that uplift, inspire, educate, and understand.

Right now, we can all use some love, understanding, and some thankfulness.

Look, we tackled a lot of controversies this year on the site. Many great conversations were had, while it got heated in some cases, we’re all still here, and knowing the state of our Union, I cannot thank you enough for still sticking around. Our country is divided enough. Even if we don’t agree on some topics, my hope is that through cycling, we can re-unite and fix some of those bonds.

Going into the Holiday Season, in the era that feels more like Groundhog Day than a National Lampoons movie, I cannot express the thankfulness I have enough. A special thanks to all the authors and talented creators who made this year a memorable one.

We’ll be back on Monday, hopefully with our Holiday Drop stocked in the webshop. So we’ll see ya then!