Winsor Trail … Nine Miles of Downhill Fun!!!!
Dylan, a mechanic at the Broken Spoke Bike Shop in Santa Fe recommended the Winsor Trail. I had developed a problem in my lower bracket on my previous ride (Abiquiu Lake Trails). My bike had begun to make a horrible grinding sound each time I pushed down on my left pedal. I had also managed to break a spoke, one of at least six I have broken the past three months.
Dylan said he preferred the Winsor Trail to any other in the Santa Fe area. He said the ride starts at the ski resort and comes down the mountain to the town of Tesuque (teh-say-key). When I told him I wanted to ride a trail and not a bike park with a bunch of jumps, he replied, “No worries, this is a trail. The closest bike park from here is Angel Fire, up by Taos.”
He then added, “You will have a lot of fun. All singletrack. Lots of swooping turns. Very little climbing. You are going to shuttle it, right?” I assured him we would be shuttling and he said, “You should have a great time.”
Eight Feet of Climbing
I had been worried about George’s stamina as he had just gotten out of the hospital two weeks previous. He had suffered a urinary tract infection that kept him in the hospital for thirteen days. After the mechanic recommended the Winsor Trail I checked my MTB Project app for the elevation profile and climbing totals. I could not believe what I saw … eight feet of climbing? For the entire nine mile ride?
I could not even get out of my driveway at home with so little climbing! I was pretty sure the eight foot number was a typo but the overall elevation profile indicated we would be doing very little uphill grinding.
Starting the Ride
We drove right through the center of Santa Fe and then wound our way into the mountains. We easily found the trailhead but continued a little further to check out the ski resort. After getting ready George’s wife (Cindy) got a photo and away we went.
The beginning of the Winsor Trail had me a little worried. We immediately encountered a couple of steep switchbacks cluttered with exposed roots and loose rocks. I knew George had not been on a bike in months. Maybe he needed practice on his skills. But George did great! I guess his skills from years riding off-road motorcycles carried over.
After the rough start the trail became smoother and straighter. We were off and flying through a constant tunnel of thick, green forest. The air was crisp, my limbs were kind if numb, and my teeth were freezing. I had been grinning the whole way.
Changing Climate Zones
The Winsor Trail began at over 10,000 feet in elevation and ended near 7,000. As you might expect the terrain changed quite a bit with the drop. The thick green coniferous forest slowly changed into juniper and piñon trees spread on top of red, sandy soil. Along the creek bed the thick aspen groves gradually gave way to cottonwoods.
A couple of miles down the trail the trail made a sharp left turn, but directly in front of us appeared a large, wooden teepee-like structure. We dismounted for we had to check it out. Several long logs had been stood up, much like the teepees I had seen at the Pinedale Mountain Man Museum this past summer. However, upon closer inspection we noticed two of the poles were actually living trees. And, of course, this teepee was not draped in deer or cow skins.
About half the way down we came across two young ladies at a junction. They were looking to take the Borrego Trail and we were wanting to stay on the Winsor. We finally decided that for a short time both trails ran concurrent. When I noticed the word “a-boot” come from one of them I accused her of being from Canada. She (Lisa) said I was close, but that she was from Minnesota.
I told her I was from Minnesota too, I just hadn’t been back there in fifty years! Then I took a minute to explain how we had plans to go back to Minnesota earlier this fall but had to cancel that part of the trip due to George’s hospital stay. We later found the other girl (Lindsey) was from Colorado.
Crossing Tesuque Creek
We must have crossed Tesuque Creek ten times. At first most of the crossings involved riding through shallow waters. I always try to keep my chain, derailleur, and bottom bracket dry so I just crept across, not kicking up streams as some mountain bikers like to. I also like to move slowly for a while after crossing so all the sand doesn’t fly up from my tires and stick to my sunglasses!
When we got nearer the bottom the volume of water in the creek grew and many wood bridges were provided.
Norman the Cow?
Shortly after crossing the creek in the photo above I burst into a clearing filled with cows. While focusing on the large ones to my right I passed within inches or a small one on my left! I quickly braked, and whipped out my camera … hoping to catch a photo of George passing him. Luckily, the cow didn’t spook … just backed off the edge of the trail!
Cindy on Trail
Just after our last creek crossing we came across Cindy (my wife) standing at a trail junction. She said she was looking up the other trail and wondering where it might end.
She said we had about a mile to go to reach the end of the trail, where we would find Cindy (George’s wife) reading in the truck.
Then she informed us about a basket full of fresh apples near the end of the Winsor Trail on the right. Some local farmer had placed the basket outside her fence for with a whiteboard message encouraging hikers and bikers to help themselves. The apples were delicious and we wrote a note thanking the provider.
After the Ride
After we finished the climb I told George I thought we had climbed way more than eight feet. He said her agreed, then asked what our numbers were. I told him my Strava totals were 177 feet of climbing while my Garmin GPS said 96 feet. Although I had hoped, for the sake of consistency, these numbers would be closer to each other. They were both much greater than 8 feet!
Once loaded we headed back into Santa Fe for an authentic New Mexican lunch. Although we did not do a lot of climbing on the Winsor Trail we still felt we deserved a hearty meal!
Had Dylan been correct? You bet. We had a great time! My bike worked great.
*Note – Dylan found my left crank had worked loose. He could have just tightened it, but took the whole bottom bracket apart, inspected it closely, and proceeded to grease the entire thing. He replaced the broken spoke and trued up the wheel … all for just $25!
During most visits I take many more photos than I can place on a page. To view every image I captured … 50 photos in all, please visit my Photo Gallery Site.
The following link can give you all the stats for the ride … just click on the box below.