Fifty Places to Bike Before You Die

I downloaded Fifty Places to Bike Before You Die by Chris Santella from the library.

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It’s not nearly as good as the title might suggest. And wasn’t what I was looking for.

I want to know the best cycle touring routes with the LEAST traffic. Santella’s book is not that.

But I did add a few of their recommended cycling destinations to my life list:

  • Icefields Parkway Banff Jasper
  • North Rim Grand Canyon
  • Natchez Trace  (Natchez, Mississippi to Nashville, Tennessee)
  • Crater Lake, Oregon
  • Mickelson Trail out of Rapid City, South Dakota
  • White Rim Trail out of Moab, Utah

Texas hill country cycling out of Austin or San Antonio sounds great too.

Casa Grande Ruins National Monument, Arizona

I was surprisingly impressed with these ruins and how they are presented.

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Arizona had only 4 rivers in the past. The question Rangers try to answer is why & how did native people survive and thrive in this very harsh environment.

Answer = irrigation.

circa 1900
circa 1900

Casa Grande Ruins National Monument consists of the ruins of multiple structures surrounded by a compound wall constructed by the ancient people of the Hohokam period, who farmed the Gila Valley in the early 13th century.

“Archeologists have discovered evidence that the ancient Sonoran Desert people who built the Casa Grande also developed wide-scale irrigation farming and extensive trade connections which lasted over a thousand years until about 1450 C.E.” …

Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico

Carlsbad Caverns National Park … in the Guadalupe Mountains of southeastern New Mexico. The primary attraction of the park is the show cave, Carlsbad Cavern. …

Carlsbad Cavern includes a large cave chamber, (The Big Room), a natural limestone chamber almost 4,000 feet (1,220 m) long, 625 feet (191 m) wide, and 255 feet (78 m) high at the highest point. It is the fifth largest chamber in North America and the twenty-eighth largest in the world. …

"The Chandelier" in the Big Room
“The Chandelier” in the Big Room

They do a good job at Carlsbad. But the most interesting thing I learned was the existence of the much larger and more impressive Lechuguilla Cave nearby.

… with 138.3 miles (222.6 km) the seventh-longest explored cave in the world …

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They are not likely to let tourists into this one in my lifetime.

Sandia Peak Tramway, Albuquerque

One of the top tourist attractions in New Mexico.

I took the Sandia Peak Tramway trip on one of the snowiest days of the year.

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Views were cool. But limited.

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The Tramway provides access to a ski hill on the other side of the mountain.

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In summer this is a terrific way to access hiking and mountain biking trails.

Still … I’m glad I saw it. Highly recommended.

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Sandia is wrongly advertised as the “longest in the world”.

The entertaining cable car announcers grudgingly concede that Dajti Ekspres cable car in Albania is longer.

And I’ve been to Merida, Venezuela. That series of four aerial tramways – reopened April 2016 – goes 1640 – 4765 meters making it the highest tourist aerial tramway in the world. It’s 12.5 km long. Far longer than Sandia.

I love cable cars and have taken a number of these – 10 Most Amazing Aerial Lifts In The World

Sandia did not make that list. It did make this one – Amazing Aerial Tramways of the World

What’s unique about Sandia is that it has only two support towers.