Above: The West Rim Trail, along the Rio Grande Gorge, has stunning views and a wide trail.
Try these tips and trails for beginners from three bike shops throughout New Mexico.
Gila Hike & Bike, Silver City
Go for a group ride: “Mountain biking is fantastic. We already realize that, though. The goal is to have someone leave our shop saying, ‘Oh, this is for me.’ We encourage folks to find a local group, a local community, or shop. It’s a neat way to get involved with other people, ask questions, find out about bikes, trails, loops—and make sure that the people you’re talking to are helpful and not overly technical, and what’s realistic to ride. Silver City has a great cycling community. There’s something to be said for a regular ride where you know people are going to show up.”
And if you’re near Silver City, try the Fort Bayard Trail System: “It’s fantastic. The Dragonfly trailhead is where we send a lot of people who are new to mountain biking. There’s not an enormous amount of climbing—more flowy and rolly, which makes for good, fun riding.”
Try a forest road, like the West Rim Trail, which leaves near the Río Grande Gorge Bridge: “They tend to be tough, like a trail, but they’re as wide as a road. A lot of beginners are intimidated by singletrack, because you’re forced to go where the trail goes. A road gives lots of options, and as you get better at handling the bike, it’s easier to adapt to singletrack.”
Broken Spoke, Santa Fe
Demo a bike: “We try to encourage people to get on a rental bike that would suit their needs. We just want to get a sense of what that experience was like for the customer and try to find a bike that fits their needs. Mountain biking is such a big, broad thing that it’s hard to make simplistic generalizations about it. Our job is to make it accessible to folks.”
And try the Winsor, Dale Ball, or La Tierra trails: “The Winsor Trail, which basically comes down from the Santa Fe Ski Basin, is something we recommend to folks coming into town. You’re getting into the alpine, you’re coming down from the mountain, so you get a big variety of styles of riding, depending on whether you want to do loops or connect different trails to get back into town.For folks just looking to get into something from town that isn’t as big a commitment, both the Dale Ball and La Tierra systems offer a lot of smaller and bigger loops that are on the easier and intermediate side of things.”