The Sangre de Cristo 600k starts and ends in Taos, New Mexico. It’s long, but you don’t have to do the entire thing at once. As I said near the end of the ride, I think this is ten of the best rides I’ve ever done all strung together!
Dist: ~375 mi / 600 km (the map is a little off)
Ascent: 16800 ft / 5100m (per MapMyRide)
(Note: MapMyRide.com tends to underestimate ascent and steepness of climbs. The longer the ride, the more it underestimates. I think this ride could have 1.5-2 times that much elevation gain, based on shorter rides I’ve done that were reported to have 15,000-18,000 feet. My HRM, which also usually underestimates elevation, reported about 19,000 ft.)
- Beautiful desert and mountain scenery and quaint rural New Mexican villages.
- Mostly rural route.
- Considerate drivers.
- Friendly people.
- Clean bathrooms. (Well, a couple weren’t so nice, but there were some very nice bathrooms at places I never would have expected.)
- Long climbs.
- There are some LONG stretches between water stops out-and-back from Sapello. I had to resort to knocking on a farmhouse door when my bottles were nearly dry. When no one answered I filled up from their hose bibb.
- While riding 522 was not nearly as bad as I expected, (It was actually beautiful on Sunday morning riding from Arroyo Hondo to Wild Rivers Park) the ride from Costilla back to Questa was flat and hot and boring. Thank goodness for those considerate drivers, and friendly people at water stops, or it could have been even more unpleasant.
- I would probably skip Sapello if I didn’t have a good reason to visit.
- Going over mountain passes early or late in the day can be very cold even in the middle of summer. Be prepared!
- If you’re vegan you should probably plan to carry all your own food. ; )
The MapMyRide map above gives an idea of the route, but is a little off from the cue sheet.
Great rides within this ride:
- Costilla to Amalia, out-and-back.
- Wild Rivers Park spur from 522. Not the most scenic. It’s nice, but the best part of this ride is the smooth pavement and little traffic.
- Taos to Taos Ski Area to Arroyo Seco to Questa to Red River.
- Red River to Eagles Nest to Cimmaron to Eagles Nest
- Eagles Nest to Taos.
- Taos to Angel Fire. (Yes, it’s pretty much the same as the one above, but backwards.)
- Eagles Nest to Angel Fire to Mora.
- Out-and-back on either part of the loop between Mora and Sapello, but not all the way to Sapello.
- Mora to Taos.
There are so many beautiful sections of this route, it’s hard to pick a few as my favorites. Between Angel Fire and Mora the ride passes through through Coyote Creek State Park for few miles. It was a very fun, windy, tree-lined descent, along a creek, that reminded me a little of the Old San Antonio Road on the Hill Country 600k. The climb from Mora, towards Sapello is very, steep and challenging. My favorite climb was probably the seemingly endless one that goes west of Mora towards Taos. The out-and-back from Eagles Nest to Cimmaron is memorable too, though if I was just out for a short ride I might turn around at the end of the new pavement in Cimmaron Canyon State Park. The ride from Taos Ski Valley through Arroyo Seco to 522 was very beautiful in the morning light.
Within this 600k route are lots of possibilities for a 20-50 mile ride or a multi-day tour.