Bike and Brew

Outside Santa Fe's Beer and Bike 2015

Outside Santa Fe’s Beer and Bike 2015

I’ve been asked what makes mountain biking in New Mexico special to me. For a brief question, I have a long and winding answer. My “love affair” (yes, my wife knows) with cycling began when I was given a sparkling blue Schwinn Stingray that I thought was the greatest gift of my young life. After a few weeks of toodling around with training wheels, I gradually became more confident. Then one day, with a patient father in an empty parking lot, I learned to pedal, steer and brake on two wheels. That blue bike radically expanded my childhood universe. I wasn’t limited by ploddingly slow foot travel or the whims of a parent with a car. I had my first taste of speed and freedom, so I explored.

I never lost my taste for the freedom a bicycle brings. I can’t deny that I’ve fallen prey to the temptations of the automobile. I’ve had many dalliances with the quiet speed of road cycling, and my town bike sees quite a few miles every year. But, oh the places you’ll go on a mountain bike! Not limited by pavement, a mountain bike can turn a thin dashed line on a map into a daylong or longer adventure. Continue reading

Bad Ass Babes

Liv Launch in Sedona, Arizona, November 2016

Liv Launch in Sedona, Arizona, November 2016

“Do it,” I sputter. “Come on.” My eyes sting of sweat, my heart pounds in my ears and my lungs scream at me. I want to give up. I want to stop pedaling, stop climbing this steep rocky trail. I want to throw my bike aside and walk up, or better yet, forget this whole endeavor and go home. “Just 10 more seconds,” I think, bargaining with myself. The crest of the hill is in sight. I’m nearly there. Through gasps and gulps, I grit my teeth and practically growl, “DO it.”

Just when I think I can take no more, I reach the top. I’m doing it. I’ve done it. At last, sweet relief: I’m over the hill. I can let gravity do the work from here. Now, I just have to keep my balance and savor the adrenaline rush as the wind cools my face and the landscape rushes past me.

Like many women, I delight in challenging myself physically and mentally with mountain biking. It’s a thrilling way to explore nature, build confidence and be more active. But undertaking it can be intimidating at first, especially since it’s still a fairly male-dominated sport. It’s intimidating, but not impossible. Luckily, there are multitudes of women who want to help. Continue reading

Santa Fe and Chile Fiesta’s Gran Fondo

12063762_1192261697456536_4582515969682001099_nWrapping up this month’s week-long extravaganza of good cheer, otherwise known as The Santa Fe Wine & Chile Fiesta, will be the third Annual Gran Fondo Bike Ride. If you’re into road biking and would like to hang with a great crew of celebrity chefs, vintners and pro riders, you might want to take it easy Saturday night, as the event starts at Four Seasons Rancho Encantado at 6:30 a.m., Sunday the 25th, with your pick of 45-, 75- or (for the extra-motivated) 100-mile loops.

I recently caught up with two celeb riders to get the scoop. Tim Duncan is executive VP of sales and marketing at Silver Oak Cellars in Napa Valley. The winery, a long-time participant in Wine & Chile, was founded in 1972 by Tim’s dad and has made a name for itself producing, as reported in the WSJ, an “upfront” Cabernet Sauvignon. Tim’s been into cycling since he was a kid, and has done three centuries this year. “The most recent one was called ‘The Death Ride’ in the Sierra Mountains south of Lake Tahoe. It’s a tough one,” he says. “A hundred twenty-eight miles, and 15,000 feet of climbing, all in one day. So my buddies and I seem to think that’s fun.”

While chef and owner of The Compound, Mark Kiffin, was taking a breather between lunch and dinner in the kitchen office, we met for a talk. “I started cycling in Pebble Beach,” Mark says. “When I opened up the Inn at Spanish Bay, which was in ’87 to ’89. It was a sport I enjoyed and was pretty good at—for me.” Mark continues, revealing his great sense of humor, “It got me out of playing golf. I’m like, ‘Oh good! I can do this and I don’t have to do that any more.’ Learning to golf in Pebble Beach is like learning to ski on the top of Aspen Mountain. No pressure at all!”

Riding, it turned out, provided Mark with a much-needed release from work. “What I like about riding a bike is there’s one seat,” he explains. “When you’re in the hospitality business—and I love this business, I’ve been in it my entire life, but I go out to dinner six nights a week basically; I just want to go by myself. You have to learn, ‘Be here now.’ Stay focused. Ride your ride.” Continue reading

Grounded in Tradition

CONTRA_164

Photo by Kitty Leaken

Odd Fellows Hall, in Santa Fe, is a modest building, easy to overlook, but twice a month it comes vibrantly alive, pulsing with the piquant tunes of an old time band and the rhythmic stomping of 70 pairs of feet. An occasional hoot punctuates the pattern of the dance while everyone holds hands and moves together to the music. “Gents! Allemande left,” shouts the caller. “Neighbors, gypsy and swing!” A flurry of colorful, spinny skirts bursts into motion as a roomful of smiling couples swing and twirl themselves silly. This is a typical contra dancing community. Happy, healthy, and—especially in summertime—hot! Not long into a dance, the doors are thrown open to cool off the radiant, flush-faced dancers, and life spills out into the night.

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Verde

Photo by Gabriella Marks

Photo by Gabriella Marks

Green. As well as being a color, it’s a term for a highly nutritious leafy vegetable and a descriptor for an ecologically sustainable way of life. Quite fittingly, it’s also the name (in Spanish) of Verde, the cold-press juice bar that Kelly Egolf opened last fall.

When she came upon the empty space on San Mateo—in a Santa Fe neighborhood with 15 fitness facilities—Kelly knew she had found the perfect location for Verde. But that was just the beginning of the appeal. “One of the things that drew me to [the building] was the skylights,” she says. There was, however, “no duct work, no sinks. We had build everything out from four walls.”

Today, roughly a third of Verde’s 3,000 squarefoot space is taken up by the storefront, which is clean, sleek and minimal, with picture windows, bright white walls and fresh accents of (what else?) green. The remaining twothirds, in the back, houses rollup doors for produce delivery, two separate kitchens (one for washed produce and one for unwashed), ample storage areas for glass bottles, a space that will soon house a walk-in fridge and, of course, the juicer. Surprisingly diminutive, it is the smallest two-part cold press available for commercial purposes. Kelly and her staff have nicknamed it Bess the Cold Press, and they might eventually add a second one. Bess consists of a grinder on the top and a press on the bottom. Continue reading

Notes from the Field

Photo by Sally King, compliments of Bandelier National Monument

Photo by Sally King, compliments of Bandelier National Monument

Hiking backcountry trails, of which there are many in Northern New Mexico, is one of my favorite things to do. Long distances require that the hiker to maintain a state of calm, both in body and mind, constantly adjust exertion to conditions and conserve energy. In maintaining this balance, your mind becomes quiet and distinctions between person and place fade away … the best nourishment for the soul I know. One such hike is to the Stone Lions Shrine in Bandelier National Monument. It covers 13 miles round trip, beginning from the visitor’s center, over widely varied terrain and nearly 3,000 feet total elevation gain. This hike tests my mettle and teaches me valuable lessons every time. Continue reading