Santa Fe is a small enough community and close enough to outdoor trails that getting around by bike is often a good option.
Three stores in the city rent bikes year-round: Bike N Sport, Mellow Velo and Santa Fe Mountain Sports.
At Mellow Velo, David Bell has a fleet of 50 to 60 bikes for rent. “We’ve got this great location that’s close to mountain biking trails in the foothills,” Bell says. “There are many terrific on-road and off-road trails within a fivemile radius of the store. Some folks rent our bikes just for exercise, but others use them to get around town.”
Bell keeps a large selection of bikes on hand, from an English three-speed to a handmade Ciocc Italian racing model. He says he always asks a few questions before choosing the perfect bike for a rental. He wants to know how tall the rider is, how frequently the person rides at home and if the bike is to be used primarily for exercise or transportation.
For bikers who want to ride on pavement and dirt trails, Bell recommends an all-purpose hardtail mountain bike that doesn’t have rear shocks.
Hardtail mountain bikes are a good choice for riding the 15-mile Santa Fe Rail Trail, which is suitable for bicyclists of all skill levels. The trail starts on pavement at Montezuma Street by the train depot. The section of the trail from Rabbit Road to the village of Lamy is unimproved and rough.
One of the most popular biking destinations close to town is the Dale Ball Trail system. Less than two miles east of the Santa Fe Plaza, the system consists of 30 miles of hiking and biking trails that connect to other Santa Fe trails, including those in the Nature Conservancy, Dorothy Stewart and Atalaya systems.
Bicyclists ride through land owned by the city of Santa Fe, Santa Fe County, U.S. Forest Service and Nature Conservancy. Free parking is available in a lot on Hyde Park Road. A map of the Dale Ball bike trail system can be found at santafenm.gov.
The city of Santa Fe is establishing new bike trails a few miles northwest of downtown at La Tierra. Two-thousand acres of city-owned land are being developed into a multi-use area for hikers, equestrians, mountain bikers, and BMX and ATV riders.
“We’re refining the area so that trails geared for different activities don’t conflict with each other,” explains Bob Siqueiros, the city’s liaison to the Bicycle and Trail Advisory Committee. “The best way to keep updated on our progress is to visit the city of Santa Fe’s website.”
The site also has a detailed map of biking routes throughout town. Because the routes cross busy commercial streets, including St. Francis Drive and Cerrillos Road, Siqueiros advises bicyclists to remember to dismount from their bikes before crossing a road and to obey traffic signals.
To ensure the safety of bicyclists in town, the city is working toward adopting a traffic ordinance that would require cars to be at least five feet from a bicyclist. Although there isn’t a helmet law, Siqueiros recommends that all bicyclists wear helmets.
Bell agrees. “I encourage folks to wear a helmet. In the past, I have charged $3 to rent a helmet, but I am thinking about including a helmet with a bike rental.”
Santa Fe Mountain Sports includes a helmet with a rental, while Bike N Sport asks that riders provide their own.
Mellow Velo provides a handlebar bag for storing sunglasses and a cell phone.
Every shop sends renters on the road with a tool kit and spare tube in case there is a flat tire. Renters are responsible for damage to or loss of the bike. Most stores offer a multi-day discount on the per-day rental fee.
“Biking around the area is great for the active traveler,” says Bell. “You can see so much more of Santa Fe by riding around town on a bike rather than in a car.”
Mellow Velo, 621 Old Santa Fe Trail, INFORMATION: 995-8356
Bike N Sport, 524-C Cordova Road, INFORMATION: 820-0809
Santa Fe Mountain Sports, 1221 Flagman Way, INFORMATION: 988-3337