My roommate, Austin, and I are discussing Ryan Van Duzer’s YouTube channel over coffee when there’s a knock at the front door. It’s my dad and my sister Paulina—they just made it back from dropping off her Subaru in Hatch, NM. I’ve been trying to get Austin into bike touring but he’s racing enduro today, leaving the rest of us Burnsides to rush out of here and join in on the Dangerbird. For the uninitiated, the Dangerbird is a desert celebration that takes place on the Monumental Loop, a 245-mile figure-eight track that tags all the desert peaks surrounding Las Cruces, New Mexico. The event draws in bikers and ultrarunners from all over, with the figure eight starting and ending in the city’s downtown square.
I have written, deleted, and rewritten this article several times now. There was the version that leaned in hard to trying to be funny, the version that tried too hard to be philosophical and deep, the version that was a cut and dry day by day account of the trip, and finally this one – some words written less about the trip itself and more about why I am so thankful we approached it the way that we did.
This past fall, my very good friend Kevin and I shipped ourselves and our bikes halfway across the country to New Mexico for what was essentially a repeat of the same trip we’d done 3.5 years prior. Back in spring 2018, with our Tony, we went on a very similar New Mexican grand adventure. We had ridden a serpentine route from Las Cruces in the south – through Truth or Consequences, Magdelena, Mt. Withington, Magdalena, Moriarty, and all of the salty stream crossings, scrublands, savannas, forests, mountains, and mesas in between, to Santa Fe in the north. Now, Kevin and I were repeating the journey – only this time going from north to south in the fall instead of south to north in the spring. With Covid-19 vaccines in arms, three local DC area airports, and the world at our fingertips it did seem like a lot of trouble to repeat our last big trip with only minor variations on a theme.
Washboard roads, rocky doubletrack, creosote, cacti, centipedes, tarantulas, and vistas for miles. The Monumental Loop provides it all in a healthy mix, featuring the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument, BLM, and state lands surrounding the town of Las Cruces, New Mexico. With the mighty Organ Mountains looming in the background, it’s hard to imagine a better touring or bikepacking route in Southern New Mexico. When you add in the delicious food on the route, you’ve got yourself a winning combination. To help celebrate this monumental achievement (tee hee), Matt Mason, co-founder of the Loop, throws a grand depart each year dubbed the Dangerbird which took a brief hiatus last year due to the Pandemic. With Covid protocols in place and our numbers remaining slightly elevated in New Mexico, Matt made sure the entire weekend’s events took place outdoors, so I felt safe to head down to experience this gem of the Chihuahuan Desert…
Last week, Dillen from Baphomet Bicycles compiled a list of everyone that bought a Ride Group bracelet and used a randomizer application to select one lucky person to be the new owner of that snazzy SSMTB. Well, Matt bought a single ticket and ended up winning the bike! Dillen was already coming to Matt’s house to stay for the NM Bikepacking Summit, so he hand-delivered the bike. After a quick ride, Matt decided he’d take the bike on the Dangerbird. That’s serendipity at its finest.
Thanks to Baphomet Bicycles and Ride Group for pulling this together. They raised over $9,000 for Ride Group! I’d like to thank everyone from The Radavist’s community who donated, including the makers who donated products for this bike: Paul Component, White Industries, Teravail, Revel, Buckhorn Bags, Farewell, and Doom Bars.
Expect some photos of this bike loaded down and dusty in our Dangerbird coverage tomorrow.
New Mexico has a lot of really amazing bicycle touring routes, from the mountainous aspen forests to the southern deserts. One such route is the Monumental Loop, which is based out of the Southern New Mexico city of Las Cruces, co-founded by Matt Mason. The Monumental Loop is a passion project for Matt but this year, he wanted to do something special to celebrate the cycling community in New Mexico. Part of that includes the first-ever New Mexico Bikepacking Summit. The weekend’s events included a Makers’ Mart at Outdoor Adventures, a local bike shop, and a grand depart for the Dangerbird, Matt’s nickname for the Monumental Loop. As you can imagine, after photographing the weekend’s events and touring the northern loop, I’m super zonked, so let’s get to it!
We’re down in Las Cruces for the Dangerbird and NM Bikepacking Summit. That means you can expect a few galleries from the events this weekend and more. Be sure to say hello if you find yourself at the event this weekend and to everyone participating remember to Leave No Trace and obey all Wilderness boundaries! :-)