Cycling Tijeras to South Valley: A Spoonful Weighs a Ton

As a birthday present to yours truly, my bicycle and I were dropped off this morning by my wife, via pickup truck on her way to Galisteo, at the Western Mercantile in Tijeras. In other words, I did absolutely zero work going up 25 miles and 1500 feet of elevation, then zoomed down the 25 miles and 1500 feet.

It was glorious.

I’ve been hearing very good things about the repaving of NM 333 between Tramway and Tijeras, but hadn’t been out there since that work was done. Yeah, it’s been a while. I don’t make it up/down the Canyon much these days, for the following reasons:

  1. I’m lazy;
  2. I’m a bike commuter who has grown to much prefer “rides I have to do,” versus “recreational cycling,” whatever that is;
  3. Living in the South Valley, it’s a long way to Tramway, I-40/Central; and,
  4. I’m lazy.

My laziness exceeded even its typically slothful norms this morning. Have I mentioned it was glorious?

The lack of uphill huffing and puffing was one big reason, but the route was an even bigger one. To wit, here’s how I rode the 25 miles downhill to my place around Isleta and Rio Bravo Blvd.:

  • NM 333 with its nice and nifty new full shoulder paving
  • I-40 Multi-Use Path from Tramway to Eubank (Los Altos Golf Course), riding under Juan Tabo and Eubank
  • A squiggy on the Path 100 yards just off Eubank to Copper
  • The bike lane on Copper to…wait for it….
  • Gen. Chennault to Zuni
  • Zuni/Lead all the way to 4th St. downtown
  • 4th St. through Barelas, Pacific and my usual meander to the Bosque Path
  • Bosque Path to Rio Bravo

That’s a smidge over 25 miles in roughly 8 turns/segments. Stop and think about that for a minute. I bold the Gen. Chennault to Zuni stretch because it’s a great example of a connector not many cyclists probably thought about only a few months back, prior to the bike lanes being put on Zuni. Here’s a Google Map look:


I’ll be honest, prior to the bike improvements on Zuni I had no idea Gen. Chennault is the street Zuni becomes after crossing Central Avenue. In fact, until about 20 minutes ago, I had no idea who General Chennault was. Claire is a very cool name for a guy, by the way, especially a “Flying Tiger.” Anyway, the good General’s namesake street is a nice, relaxing straight shot from the bike lane on Copper along Los Altos Golf Course to the new, improved Zuni.

Gen. Chennault St. N.E. isn’t currently a “bike route” on the ABQ Bike Map, and most of it isn’t shown as such even on the 2040 Long Range Plan. But the work on Zuni de facto changes that.  This little street now makes it possible to ride bike lanes, MUPs and fully-paved shoulder all the way from the Western Mercantile in Tijeras to Lead and 2nd downtown. 

Roll that new fact around for a minute. Pretty damn cool, huh? So cool, in fact, it got me thinking about the Flaming Lips and that tune “A Spoonful Weighs a Ton.” (Symbolic Spoiler Alert: Gen. Chennault St. N.E. is the “Spoonful”):

Yeah, I know…pretty syrupy for Better Burque. What can I say…it’s almost my birthday (and we circa-September 11 birthday folks have had a pretty subdued time of it the last few years) and this Gen. Chennault connector has me a bit Flaming Lips giddy. Note: How about we have Gen. Chennault formally designated a “bike route”? Call it a birthday present to me or General Chennault (September 6th) or the City or something.

It took me well under two hours to make it from the Western Mercantile in Tijeras to my place south of Rio Bravo in the South Valley, and it has nothing to do with me or my 35 pound Surly Long-Haul Trucker. We’re slow. Yeah, it was 25 miles of 1500 vertical feet of downhill, true, but that included a bike lane measurement on Copper and a stop along Silver to see how its Bike Boulevard improvements are coming along. Here’s the still-in-construction traffic circle at Silver and Cornell:


I thought they were supposed to be done with that traffic circle by now? Regardless, the whole ride was a wonderful birthday present to myself and a route I’d highly recommend to anyone. Especially Westbound. Especially the Gen. Chennault St. N.E. part.

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