My third ride came a couple days later, at Dale Ball Trails. It was easy to reach the parking area, but finding the trailhead for the Dale Ball Central Loop required riding along the road and guessing, with MTBProject again saving the day. Before that, I accidentally went on a rogue trail above a city water retention pond, and then on the Atalaya trail, a brutal climb that my fellow visitor from DFW already had ridden for both of us.
These trails were not unlike La Tierra, besides offering more technical fun. I found a little more flow in the loop itself, rather than a short, designated descent trail, and again a lot of short ups and downs. It was more fun overall as XC trails than La Tierra, but lacking the added features for those seeking jumps and drops. I stopped less to figure out where I was, but still too much.
Overall, I wouldn’t rate the trails in Santa Fe as any better than others I have ridden elsewhere. The one exception would be Winsor Trail. The trail itself didn’t offer anything unlike what I’ve ridden in northwest Arkansas, but 9.3 miles of downhill makes it a standout. The longest descent (with just a little pedaling) where I learned to ride lasted about 4 to 5 minutes. The much bigger mountains offered an amped-up version of that, and it was glorious even with a hampered bike.
That DFW contact I had made while in Santa Fe? We had intentions of riding together, but somehow we staggered our riding days and sightseeing with the wife days so that it never quite worked out. I think that’s for the best, because based on his Strava tracks, he is a much stronger climber than I am, one day knocking out 22 miles of brutal elevation change in the higher-altitude trails.
(Start over at Part 1)