Kay is a Colorado cyclist and lives in Boulder. She likes a good adventure and maybe goes a little too far sometimes...

For weeks my dreams had been haunted by visions of mountain-ringed desert sands, Calvary soldiers charging across plains, settlers rumbling along rutted dirt trails, and Indians hunting on horseback. Maybe I’d watched too many westerns or read too many Cormac McCarthy novels but I was thirsting for the southwest and for the adobe fortress of Santa Fe.

My first visit to Santa Fe was a winter fantasy years ago. I arrived at dusk with snow falling to find the pink-gold of fading sunlight casting a warm glow on adobe buildings, luminarias (Christmas lanterns made of a votive candle in a small paper bag, weighted with sand, and lined up with others along a driveway, sidewalk, or rooftop as a holiday decoration) flickering from rooftops, and the smell of pinyon pine smoke drifting from the chimneys. I was in love with the dream scape I’d just entered and Santa Fe would tug at my heart for years to come.

Start line signage letting you know what’s what.

Fast forward a couple decades later and I was set to return to Santa Fe but things were much different this time around. The Santa Fe Century & Gran Fondo Ride takes place in the late spring and proved to be an excellent way to kick off the cycling season. The 100 mile Century ride is at your own pace, while the Gran Fondo ride is a chip timed, all out race for the more serious minded rider. Moderate temperatures, sunshine, a fairly flat course with an elevation gain of 4,800ft for 100 miles sounded doable and enjoyable. The one thing we hadn’t counted on was the spring wind! We were pummeled with headwinds, crosswinds, and a few glorious miles of tailwinds from the start of the day to the finish line.

Sunrise and ready to roll.
On your mark, get set, go!
Always a treat to ride one of these roads!
See for miles views.

We rode with head-down-into-the-wind determination for roughly the first half of the ride and were relieved when we reached the turn for Highway 42 and the rolling hills on the way to Galisteo, the midpoint of the ride. I don’t know if it was because I was half crazy because of the wind (did I mention it was W-I-N-D-Y?) but Galisteo seemed like an oasis of the Old West, like I’d literally just ridden into that Cormac Mc Carthy novel. The ranch stop revived us for what lay ahead and thankfully we found out we’d made it through the most challenging part of the ride already!

The midway ranch oasis stop in Galisteo.
This guy was wondering what all the wheels and neon colors were about. He really just wanted to share our snacks:)
Ranch art.
The original prairie schooner SUV.

All’s well that ends well. We learned a lot about perseverance, we saw a beautiful part of the world, and yes, we found out that the romance of the Old West is still alive!

We stayed at Hotel Santa Fe, the only Native American owned hotel in downtown Santa Fe where we were immersed in the art, architecture, music, and language of the Pueblo people. Our room had a kiva fireplace and even though it was too warm to use it, I loved the ambiance and authenticity of it and it reminded me of the pinyon pine smoke I’d smelled years ago. https://hotelsantafe.com/

Bandelier National Monument, the Bradbury Science Museum in Los Alamos (history buffs will appreciate the detailed information about World War II’s Manhattan Project), and Georgia O’Keefe’s Abiquiu home and studio are day trips away, and the Georgia O’Keefe Museum in downtown Santa Fe are all worth making the time to visit. https://www.nps.gov/band/index.htm  http://www.lanl.gov/museum/ and https://www.okeeffemuseum.org/.

Sazon bills itself as a New World Cuisine/Mezcaleria/Tequileria restaurant and was one of the most mind blowing culinary experiences I’ve ever enjoyed. (*PRO TIP: order the chef’s signature soup and desert, you will not be disappointed! http://www.sazonsantafe.com/

Pueblo ruins in
Bandelier National Monument.
THE door from O’Keefe’s patio door series.
O’Keefe’s home and studio has been maintained exactly as she left them when she walked out the door for the last time. The hallowed spaces of the a gifted artist.