Monday, December 30, 2013

Last Minute Charitable Giving to Outdoor Organizations

SFCT and the Trails Alliance - Since 1993
Several of the organization that take care of our trails around town and in northern New Mexico are tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organizations, meaning, that if you're looking for a few end-of-year tax deductions (or are just feeling generous) you ought to consider sending a few $$$ their way before end-of-day on the 31st.

The two organizations that (far and away) provide the most improvements and volunteer days on our trails are The Trails Alliance (the volunteer arm of the Santa Fe Conservation Trust), and the Santa Fe Fat Tire Society. Terrific groups that could use a Saturday of your time as well as your financial support. If you've used a trail in the Santa Fe area over the last 20 years, The Conservation Trust is who you want to give thanks and appreciation.

SFFTS - Since 2011
As far as the running community and support for running programs and events in and around Santa Fe, the most active organizations are the Santa Fe Striders, Girls on the Run, and WINGS of America. Most of the overflow revenue generated by the Striders is directed to the latter two organizations so you might consider just contributing to them directly.

Most of these folks are setup to accept funds electronically at the links below. Give them a boost and support the outdoors in Santa Fe and northern New Mexico:

  - Girls on the Run
  - Santa Fe Trails Alliance and the Santa Fe Conservation Trust
       (also supported by the Banff Film Festival, the La Tierra Torture, XTERRA Glorieta, 2nd Street Brewery)
  - Santa Fe Fat Tire Society (via membership)
  - WINGS of America
  - Santa Fe Watershed Association (manages the SF River)
  - Southwest Nordic Ski Club (nordic ski trails in Los Alamos)
  - The Santa Fe Striders (via the button below)

Related Posts:
 - The Santa Fe Rail Trail Re-Imagined
 - Winsor Trail Improvements

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Converting a Bicycle Into a Snowmobile

Rockin' fat bike through National Forest access
Over the last couple of years there has been this growing new product line in cycling of giant Fat Bikes. Or rather, bikes with giant wheels and adjusted gearing and components. I never quite got it. Thought maybe it was just some breaking-from-the-herd type of concept for the non-conformists, like the barefoot shoe thing.

Turns out it's a natural progression of what happens when a bunch of punk kid bmx'ers living up in Michigan's UP turn snow plowed parking lots into frozen half-pipes and freestyle courses, then turn their bike tires into studded ice-grippers, then turn snowmobile trails into winter bike trails.

Yoopers for the win. These guys are awesome.

Related Posts:
 - Winter Bike Descent - Rio en Medio
 - Ski Commuting British Columbia

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Joyeux Noël

Christmas willow tunnel
Holiday cheer fell from the sky on Sunday morning, brightening the llanos and cerros of northern New Mexico, just in time for Christmas.

Familiar trails take on a peaceful and intimate character, a marvelous example for us all.

A Merry Christmas eve, goodwill and good tidings to you and yours, and may you find yourself among loved ones, good friends, and the joyous spirit of the Holiday season.

The Arroyo Hondo with storm-socked foothills beyond

Happy winter spring

 - Feliz Navidad y Prospero Ano, Xmas 2012

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Los Alamos - How Physicists Once Cleared a Ski Hill

Niels Bohr out on the hill, January 1945
I've been reading an interesting book about life in Los Alamos during the Manhattan Project. There are several sections that talk about recreation and how the principal physicists and engineers would spend their time outside the labs and away from their calculations.

When the British contingent arrived in 1944 they brought with them most of the brightest minds who had fled the continent, included were nobel laureates Niels Bohr and Enrico Fermi, as well as (future laureate) Hans Bethe who were all big skiers. Sort of a precursor to the 10th Mountain Division men, who would return from the war and build European inspired ski hills across the U.S. Bohr and Bethe would skin up the hills, then free-heel back down, and actually got a few other non-skiers interested in doing the same.

By the winter of 1945 there was a need for a greater variety of ski slopes. Someone felt that Sawyers Hill southwest of town was a decent location (just west of the present day intersection of NM-4 and Hwy 501). Trees had to be cleared though, so skier and demolition expert George Kistiakowsky took it upon himself to clear the hill. He brought in his explosives team, the team who would ultimately be responsible for designing the proper charge for the world's first fission reaction weapons, and together they rounded up some detonation cords and C-4, wrapped the trees marked for clearing, and with one blast, cut them all to the ground. Fittingly, this was Los Alamos' first purpose-built ski hill.

The now widely used image of Bohr (above), went unseen until the 1950's since it was strictly classified who was involved with the Project, or who might have been jaunting around the hills of the Pajarito Plateau on skis during the winter of 1945.

Related Posts:
  - Nordic Skiing Guaje Canyon
  - Frijoles Canyon and Bandelier National Monument
  - Lummis Canyon and Bandelier National Monument

Friday, December 13, 2013

Taos Ski Valley Bought up by Wall St Financier

Some eye-popping news out of Taos. The Blake family has agreed in principal to sell the family owned business to a billionaire east coast hedge-fund fella.

Family patriarch Ernie Blake first scouted the valley and built out the ski resort in the 50's, modeling it after the ski villas in his native German Alps. To this day Taos is far and away the best ski experience in New Mexico - steepest terrain, charming european feel, professional alpine trained staff and ski-school, cozy old-world bars to end the day.  

A potential plus to the deal is the needed influx of capital to open terrain with another lift or two. One has to imagine that the new owner, Louis Bacon, has lined up some type of continuity agreement with the Blake family not to blanket the place with condos and soul-less real estate developments. The guy touts himself as a conservationist so perhaps he sees this venture as a rewarding personal interest rather than just another business model in need of streamlining and optimization.

Kachina Peak, the East Ridge and The Bavarian Lodge

 - Santa Fe New Mexican - Investor to buy Taos Ski Valley from Founding Family
 - NYTimes Dealbook - Bacon buys Taos Ski Resort

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Fall/Winter Cross Country Season

Sending a hill of mud and snow with the world's best - World Cross 2013
It's cold nasty and grey outside which means it's the traditional cross country racing season. Not to be confused with cross country or nordic skiing - though that's a helluva lot of fun too - I mean European-style off-season off-road racing, barreling across muddy meadows, leaping through creek crossings, up-and-over hills, dodging past rocks and trees, bounding through snow, precursor-to-trail-running cross country. Marvelous stuff.

It may not be widely known, but the cross teams built by Coach Franklin down the road in Albuquerque are now firmly established as top-caliber D-1 collegiate programs. The UNM women swept their 6th straight conference title in November, while the UNM men ran to their 5th straight conference championship. Both teams ranked as high as top ten in national polls for part of the year, with the women ultimately running 10th at NCAA Cross Nationals helped out by two All-American finishes up front (Sammy Silva 12th and Charlotte Arter 18th). The men finished 11th overall, with Luke Caldwell earning All-American honors in 10th place and two local standouts scoring for the Lobos - Pat Zacharias (Abq Academy) ran second man in 53rd, and Sean Stam (Rio Rancho High) ran fifth man in 157th.

UNM women rolling in the new turquoise unis at D-1 Nationals
On the prep level, northern New Mexico boasts the best high school cross teams in the state in Robbie and Kathy Hipwoods' boys and girls teams of Los Alamos High. The boys squad defended last year's title with only two returning runners which is just crazy-talk. The northern Rio Grande Valley is also home to both 3A championship teams (Bruce Gomez' Taos squads) the girls 1A championship team (Jemez Valley), three individual champions and two runners-up. New Mexico doesn't have a history of awarding all-district or all-state honors to individuals but the one outlet that covers these races, Milesplit-NM, makes the effort to select an all-state prep team for both boys and girls. Pretty solid.

Defending US cross champ Chris Derrick
Across the pond, the Euros just held their European Cross Championships this last weekend, the 20th running of the event. Nine time champion Sergiy Lebid of Ukraine was in the field as he has been for each of the previous 19 championships. The guy is a serious baller. BALLER. I like to root for Ireland, or the lone fellow from Belgium, or Montenegro in this race. I also like to root for mud and snow. There are no flat manicured golf courses out on the Euro cross circuit, these folks mix it up, crush hills, and get dirty.

Most importantly, the US Cross Champs are coming to the rocky mountains this year (and next), specifically Boulder, CO, which happens to be a short 6hr drive up the road. The races are scheduled for February 15th. Along with the very deep field of current US distance pros, expect a fleet of CU alums and past all-Americans to attend the championship in front of an adoring home crowd (The CU men won their fourth NCAA title this year). I'm told that Boulder landed this race as part of a larger effort to bid on hosting a future World Cross Championships event, which would be kinda really badass. *head explodes*

Related Posts:
 - US Men Capture Silver at World Cross
 - 2013 Corrida de los Locos - Race Report

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Quiet Happy Snow Running

A serene view in the Arroyo Chamiso - 12/5
Fluffy white snow is billowing down on the City of Holy Faith today. A very pleasant surprise. Another storm is scheduled to pass through this weekend bringing even more snow our way. If your skis aren't yet tuned and ready to throw in the truck you've got another day or two to get things squared away.

Perhaps you're the type that doesn't get snow-happy, and are already pining for next year's trail running & racing schedule. I should now have one posted through the spring. One new event on the schedule is the Santa Fe Rando Fireball up on the ski slopes, part of the Colorado COSMIC series. Sounds pretty legit, glad they added us to their race series.

Related Posts:
- 2014 Trail Racing Calendar
- Charms of Winter Running
- Santa Fe's Arroyos
- I Heart Snow

View Arroyo de los Chamisos - Santa Fe in a larger map

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Thanksgiving Power Rankings

Do you see? All the lights!?
Four day weekends are highly under-rated. I thoroughly enjoyed mine and will now rank all the marvelous stuff that happens when work is not on the calendar:
1. Green chile turkey stuffing
2. Cranberry sauce with candied orange
3. Christmas lights on the Plaza
4. Rosemary mashed potatoes
5. Early morning mtb on a snowy Rail Trail
6. Collecting firewood with the toddler
7. Huevos rancheros with friends
8. Some Megan McCarthy cop movie that was hilarious
9. Planning a winter yurt trip
10. Oatmeal cookies


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