Spins and Spas

Jul 12, 2005
Outside Magazine
Santa Fe

   Photo: Corbis

I'm crawling up the Chamisa Trail in my mountain bike's lowest gear—the one affectionately called "granny"—though right now I'm wishing I had a great-granny. Maybe it's breakfast from Cafe Pasqual's, a 13-table Water Street institution in Santa Fe, that's throwing a cog out of my cogset. My choice, selected from 25 menu items during a three-coffee deliberation, was a jack-stuffed chile relleno buried under two eggs over easy, which narrowly edged out the smoked-trout hash.

Both my breakfast spot and my spin are New Mexico classics—the Winsor Trail network, including links like the Chamisa, is a must-ride. You can pedal eight miles on the Winsor, from the village of Tesuque to Santa Fe's small but cherished ski area, for a net gain of 3,100 feet (or a net loss, if you're a gravity freak with a car shuttle). My hour-plus climb today brings rewards—a tangent on the Borrego and Bear Wallow trails, a glorious rolling descent—and a question: Do I ride too much?

Considering that my town is home to hundreds of great restaurants, 200 art galleries, 11 museums, an opera, and a rich, four-hundred-plus-year history, not to mention ashrams, teahouses, art barns, and Wiccans, I think a change is in order. So I trade sandy singletrack for basalt and marble, letting a massage therapist at Ten Thousand Waves, Santa Fe's most serene spa, apply 65 stones to my body. The 130-degree black rocks supply heat, while the cool white marble removes it. This stone sauté is like regression analysis—as in past injuries, not past lives.

The new, fluid me drops back to La Posada de Santa Fe, a cottonwood-canopied downtown hotel with 157 "casita" rooms (Spanish for "don't pack tons of stuff"), some with a kiva fireplace and a porch. Then it's off to Canyon Road to catch the Friday-evening gallery openings. The sun is dropping below the somewhat expressionistic Jemez Mountains, the clouds above the Sangre de Cristos are an imperial violet, and I walk through nearly 20 galleries without spotting a single bandanna-festooned coyote howling at the moon.

BONUS: The palette at El Farol (505-983-9912), amid the galleries on Canyon, is 100 percent blue agave. A Hornitos marg or two is best consumed with creative tapas like the crispy avocado (battered and flash-fried).

DETAILS: A 70-minute Japanese hot-stone treatment at Ten Thousand Waves Japanese Health Spa (505-982-9304, www.tenthousandwaves.com) is $139. Rooms at La Posada de Santa Fe (888-367-7625, www.laposada.rockresorts.com) start at $209. New Mexico Bike 'n' Sport (505-820-0809, www.nmbikensport.com) rents demo cross-country bikes, like Specialized Stumpjumpers, for $35–$45 per day.