Discovering Burque’s “Northwest Passage”

The Better Burque Official Staff Ride (BBOSR) yesterday eventually took us downtown to the kickoff of the 2018 Women’s March, and it was fun/important to see the signs, run into some acquaintances and notice a crowd larger than you might have expected, given the weather and other factors.

It was an event that will hopefully culminate in a 2018 mid-term election to remember. That said, the other event during our ride yesterday was meaningful for far more personal reasons, yet it might be of interest to those cyclists out there who have often wondered:

“Can I get from I-40 north to Montaño Road along the west side of the Rio Grande without getting killed (i.e., riding on Coors Boulevard)?”

Like all such route questions, there’s a “local knowledge” element. There may well be BB readers out there who live on the near Westside who would answer the question above with a hearty “Duh,” while others not familiar with the local ins and outs of the area bordered by Montaño, Coors, and I-40 would be flummoxed by the concept.

Before yesterday at around 10:00 a.m., the BBOSR crew was definitely in the “flummoxed” camp. Hardy, eager, but flummoxed. So, like any explorers worth their silk and spices trade, we ventured north of I-40 west of the Rio Grande without asking anybody for directions,  consulting any maps, and generally wandering around like drunken sailors without compass or sextant.

You know, “real old school navigation,” the kind humans did before they had any idea what the Hell they were doing. As you might surmise, this method of exploration generally centered on broad concepts such as “I don’t know, let’s turn here,” and “any right turn toward the River is a good thing.”

Unlike Magellan, de Gama, or Amundsen, we did have on-board bike computers with GPS function, but eschewed any of the mapping functions. Also unlike these famed explorers, we had to put up with far more gated communities and No Trespassing signs. The need for people to live close to the river while preventing unsavory interlopers (e.g., the BB Staff) is seemingly insatiable. The area is filled with cul-de-sacs, tall walls between arroyos and adjacent properties, and even a sign on a so-called path reading “No Bicycles.”

Naturally, we took all these impediments as nothing more than sporting challenge, and took to route finding at times involving vague questions of legality in a few spots. Still, I don’t think we actually, literally, touched any private property, per se, and hence can publicly reveal the famed “Northwest Passage” of Albuquerque, at least to Montaño.

And thanks to John, who painstakingly affixed our route to a Google Map (actually, I think this must have been “painstaking,” as I don’t know how to do it…it might have taken him only two minutes. I don’t know.), you, dear BB reader, can gaze upon our route of fascinating discovery and eternal importance.

Ahoy, ye maties…here it is:

One hint for those trying to replicate the above: It does involve riding in an arroyo for a short stretch. Another hint: You might not want to ride in that arroyo.

Next step, extending the Passage north beyond Montaño. Wish us luck, but no actual help. That would take all the fun out of it.



3 thoughts on “Discovering Burque’s “Northwest Passage”

  1. A few points:

    * We have no editor, as evidence by the fact that we both wrote a version of this post, each not realizing the other was hard at work crafting prose.
    * Our co-writing apparently involves yammering while on bike rides, as evidence by the fact that several of the jokey bits are repeated in both posts.
    * The “painstaking work” of map-making involved Fleck curled up with his laptop last night furiously googling “How do I do this thing I want to do with free tools?” and then following step-by-step instructions without fully understanding them.


  2. I almost attempted the north section yesterday, from Boxing Bear to Montano, but ran out of time to get lost. I recall trying it a year or two ago, but ended up walking my bike in soft earth along a ditch for a long stretch.


  3. […] last readers met our intrepid Better Burque adventure team, we were attempting to push north along the fabled Albuquerque Northwest Passage, that route that allows you to safely bike up the west side of the river without ever having to set […]


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