There are times that the pursuits that seem hard, are actually easy in comparison to the other things in our lives. That was the southern loop of the Dangerbird. I let my body move through all the motions, let my senses take in all the beauty of the region, and my tastebuds and stomach, do a lot of work with my various snacks. food trucks, wine and beer. I met incredibly kind people, rode with a local legend and spent a fair amount of time with myself in my head.
The Dangerbird is a 250+ mile bike packing ride comprised of a North and South loop, with the City of Las Cruces and the start, middle and end of the ride, providing incentives of food, drink and creature comforts after a big 125-150 push through the NM high desert. The ride was developed by Matt Mason and the race was organized by a large group, there were so many people involved, and it was exciting to see the degree of brains at work, creating this unified biking community. The link to register was on the Friends of the Organ Mountains – Desert Peaks – the site is also provides a wealth of information on the work that is being down to protect this area.
The weekend started that Friday of the event with final packing, reviewing my gear list and heading south. I stopped in San Antonio to visit with my parents before the final stretch into Las Cruces, prior to leaving San Antonio, Kayla called to inform me that she had a seizure. She hadn’t had one in over a year, so this was unsettling news. Actually, it was shocking. We all get comfortable in our lives and stability, so moments like this are unnerving. However, after she got home, she let me know she forgot to take her medication that morning, and with some reassurance from her and Alek, I was convinced to commit to the ride.
I got into Las Cruces just time for the evening information session. It was interesting to see the intersectionality of politics and nature, and the connectedness of policy and its influence on conservation areas and creating safe biking communities. The creators of the event introduced key players, discussed the impact of events such as this to create conversation and knit communities together. Artists, politicians and locals, all banded together to hand out loaves of locally made green chile baguettes, wrapped in printed bandanas from a local artist. The passion of the people that are part of this community, was palpable, and enough to charge a depleted battery.
The morning of the ride was leisurely, with enough time to cruise the downtown farmers market, grab some local coffee and meet the other riders. There was more take about safety, logistics and being good stewards to the lands that we were crossing. Then after a large group photo, we were off, with a warm up lap lead by locals on adaptive bicycles. After the farewell from the locals, we all moved towards the loop we were to start, the energy with calm, but excited, and the pace was comfortable. We moved through town on a comfortable clip, finally reaching the outskirts, which opened to the promise of sand, rocks and hills. I caught up with a local legend, Jack, who had a great pace and was an excellent conversationalist. The single track was often fun with good flow, but also sketchy with big rocks, cactus and mesquite, it often felt like I was in a different world. After the single track, there was asphalt, towns and food, followed by flowing gravel. I was thankful to be outside.
There is something powerful to move your body and object though space. It transcends. I was in a place that was incredible, with weather that was agreeable and a riding partner who had such knowledge of the area, that we rarely needed to refer to the GPS. We stopped at all the notable locations, from a red Mexican food truck in Vado for a small feast and water refill from the hose, then grabbed to-go burritos at Emiliano’s, finally stopping for some music and wine at the Mesa Vista Winery, prior to our final stop at the Killbourne Hole camp. We still had many miles to go, but that NM sunset, the quicker clip, conversation and the feeling of proximity to camp, lightened any reserve about the miles we moved.
Camp was such a great stop. Jack described the hosts in a way, that I felt like I knew them when we rolled in. The hosts greeted us with some much energy, made sure we had a warm drinks for our cold hands, help to set up camp, and just hung out. As other riders rolled in, there was such good conversation, snacks and general shared connection, participating in an event like this. The kindness of strangers in never lost on me.
The morning was gentle, no one was in a hurry. Sunrise and strong coffee had everyone moving through their paces, packing up our bags, filling our water bottles and eating snacks. We said our goodbyes and set forth on the final stretch of the southern loop. This section was filled with gravel roads, volcanic remnants, and peaks surrounding us as we made our way back to Las Cruces. We connected with some other riders along the way and all finished in Mesilla with a cold drink and a tasty meal, finalizing our journey with words that filled the space, already missing the miles, but the new connections we made, were enough to settle us on our way.
Although, I really wanted to continue, but my head and heart where no longer in it. I needed to get home to my daughter and life. This moment in time was incredibly refreshing. The people, the landscapes, the passion, and energy of the region, was enough to remind me about the important things in life. The connections you make, the time to pursue your passions, and connecting intimately to spaces.
Thank you to everyone who put in many hours fro create this even, to the politicians in the region pushing for change that is palpable to the average human, and to everyone who showed up to share space. It was an experience and I can’t wait to return for the full experience next year!