Texas / New Mexico state line – 32.0001° N, 106.3050° W
Recently I dusted off the old mountain bike and have been getting back out on the trails. For my two years in El Paso I have been so caught up getting on top of mountains that I have totally neglected the two-wheeled obsession of my previous life pre-El Paso.
With that said, I have ridden a variety of trails of all skill levels in the previous weeks. There have been leisurely rides on bumpy jeep roads, brutal uphill switchbacks that go on for days, and gnarly white knuckle screamers down rocky arroyo walls. All have lead me to believe that the mountain bike scene in El Paso is legit.
To mountain bike in the Franklin Mountains and surrounding foothills is extremely difficult for a number of reasons.
1. You are always climbing.
The screaming downhills were always welcome but are few and far between at times. In this environment it is not uncommon to have a large gain in elevation at a relatively shirt ride. On recent outings I gained 1,267 feet over 3 miles and 1,309 over 5 miles. Both proved to be difficult trails.
2. The rocks on the trail are completely unpredictable.
There are very few spots along any of the trails that I have passed that are smooth. There are baseball size and bigger rocks everywhere. Even once you have identified a line, one loose rock redirects you, and not always for the better.
3. Shin Daggers and Ocotillo
Anyone who has ever stepped off of a sidewalk and walked out into the Chihuahuan Desert will understand, but for everyone else, there are sharp pointy things designed to quickly alleviate your tire of its air and will most certainly burrow below your skin. On top of that, throw in over 35 varieties of cactus, and you have a recipe for a flat tire or bloody shins. Just a quick note, both will probably end up happening.
It should also be noted that I have quickly realized that I am behind the curve in bicycle technology. These writings are based in my experience with a Haro 26″ hard tail. Every other bike I have encountered out in the wild is a 29″ super light weight something or another.
But for now, it is not about the equipment. It is about the thrill of being in the wild.