We had first become aware of the freeriding in New Mexico through David Fibley of Southwest Freeride. We weren’t sure what to expect, but after our experience in El Paso with the Roughriders, we realized how much incredible terrain the southwest had to offer. We weren’t sure we would be able to make it up through Santa Fe, but fortunately our schedule worked out and we were able to plan a route through northern New Mexico.
We were feeling a bit wiped out after a long and fun weekend in El Paso, Texas, and got on the road a bit late. By the time we finally arrived at the local dirt jumps, known as the Trashbin, the sun was already setting. However, we were there, so I tore out of the car and down the trail, where we ran into our hosts, David Fibley and Rich Strang. After a quick tour of the jumps, I ran back to the car and began the lengthy process of unlocking and removing bikes from the roof rack, then installing pedals on my bike. It was already sunset at this time so I grabbed my closest freeride/ dirt jump friendly bike, my new Trek Session 88.
Donning my helmet, I followed Rich (AKA the Godfather) out to hit up a fun step down to dirt jump line. Unfortunately, it quickly became too dark to ride, but it was enough to get me fired up for the next day of riding.
Rich lived close-by and offered us a place to stay, so we took him up on it in order to get an early start the next morning. After the prerequisite coffee and bagel stop, we headed back to the Trash bin Jumps for another look. The jumps had a variety of different lines. We warmed up on a fun slalom- type track that zigzagged through the trees. Think jump, berm, jump, berm, berm, jump- you get the picture. After warming up, we hit up the bigger line that consisted of a few filter type jumps into a big set of 4. At this point the wind picked up, and Rich suggested we move to another spot. Grabbing our gear, we followed Rich along a trail away from the cars where we were presented with this view:
I’ll be honest- I wasn’t expecting this level of dirt jumping heaven to be tucked away back here. Rich explained that the best part of the Trash bin was that when one section was too windy to ride, the other was generally pretty good. Lucky! We quickly attacked an intermediate line was initially a bit of a challenge due to our choice of rides for the day- big bikes. I’ve been recovering from a bruised heel, and the additional suspension was less harsh on the body. Plus my bike is new-it was hard not to ride it!
Watching and riding with the Godfather was both a pleasure and inspiring at the same time. Rich actually started dirt jumping and freeriding at the age of 42- an age where many have given up their go-for-broke attitude and resigned themselves to trail riding. At the age of 50, he is a way bad-ass rider that shreds harder than many half his age!
After warming up, Rich began to session the big set- four nice sized doubles in a row. After figuring out the right amount of speed for the first one, I started feeling it, and worked my way through the line. The second and third set were butter, with nice big and smooth transitions. My favorite was the second set, which popped one up nicely.
Rich, Inga and I worked on our timing with the goal of getting a photo of Rich and myself both mid-air over the second and third set. After a number of attempts we had success! (very nice!)
After a solid session of dirt jumping, we retired to a hotel to rest up and prepare for the next day, when Rich took us to a local freeride hotspot known as Oblivion Ridge. Don Hampton and a crew of riders had been through recently with Rich playing tour guide, and we were stoked to get the same star treatment.
We first warmed up on this cool line along the ridge. Riding the bottom part of the ridge line, we sessioned a drop to double, that then dropped off a ledge sending you right up a canyon wall that made a natural quarter pipe. The top of the lip was a bit rough, but I was happy I was able to bop off it getting flat in the process.
After a mini session, we hit up the Oblivion drop that was of good size. Hitting the drop gave one good speed into another huge hip. I was beyond stoked to really get the experience of riding in the southwest. The scale of the features and the beauty of the terrain was straight out of a high end MTB video.
For our last session Rich took us to another arroyo where we found yet another natural half-pipe. The soft dirt was easy to sculpt to our liking, and we after we raked and compacted the approach, we found ourselves attacking the lip with more and more speed. The top of the transitions need a bit more work to really air it out, and I had a few unsuccessful attempts at fufunus on the top due to the dirt crumbling, but was happy to come away with a few good fast plants.
In the end, we only had gotten a taste of the phenomenal riding to be had in Santa Fe. We were sad to move on, but plan to come back as soon as we can. To find the scoop on these sweet riding spots hit up the guys at SWFreeride.com.
This article was originally published on 3/19/2009 on Mountain Bike Action