A Triathlete’s 48 Hours in Santa Fe

With 300 days of sun and an elevation of 7,000 feet, Santa Fe is a high-altitude training paradise.

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The high desert beckons. 

With 300 days of sun and an elevation of 7,000 feet, Santa Fe is a high-altitude training paradise. It’s why triathlete and 2000 Olympian, Ryan Bolton, has based his group of elite American and Kenyan marathon runners and triathletes here.

“Santa Fe has the typical things—clean air, altitude,” he says. “And it has a crazy abundant amount of good riding and running.” The best time to train there? Our money is on fall: Average daily highs in the 60s and 70s make it warm enough to swim outdoors, and cool mornings and evenings are perfect for hard efforts on the trails or roads. (Nighttime temps usually drop to into the low 50s—pretty good sleeping weather.)

Day One

Swim in the Olympic–sized pool at the Chavez Community Center. Day passes are $8 and include access to the weight room. From there, sneak in a quick run on the paved Rail Trail bike path, or hop in the car for a 10-minute drive to the Wilderness Gate trailhead and a trip up Atalaya Mountain. (1,200 foot elevation gain and five miles round trip; several sections are too steep to run.) If you’d rather ride, head to the Sierra Del Norte trail- head, part of the well-marked Dale Ball trail system. With a little planning, it’s easy to link together a nine-mile loop complete with techy rock sections, tight switchbacks, and short, steep climbs. Mellow Velo offers mountain bike rentals from $60 for 24 hours; high-end demos from Santa Cruz and Pivot run $75.

Day Two

In the morning, Bolton recommends making the 20-minute drive to the Rio Grande- fed Cochiti Lake for an open-water swim. With a relatively flat dirt road nearby, Bolton often uses Cochiti for sprint triathlon simulations.

From Santa Fe’s downtown plaza, ride up Hyde Park Road to the base of Ski Santa Fe, a 16-mile, 3,300-foot climb. On the way down, stop at Ten Thousand Waves, a Japanese-inspired spa and onsen, for a post-ride soak and meal.

Plan B

Local crushers train on Pacheco Canyon Road. From the nearby town of Tesuque, Pacheco Canyon climbs more than 3,000 feet before intersecting with Hyde Park Road. If you’re on a mountain bike, you can choose to descend along the Winsor trail (moderate to technical single track), Hyde Park Road (winding pavement), or back down Pacheco the way you climbed. Bonus: From the top of Pacheco, keep riding a mile up Hyde Park, and connect with the Aspen Vista trail (mountain bike recommended), which twists an additional six miles through pine and aspen forests 2,000 feet to the top of Big Tesuque Peak. Enjoy the killer view of Santa Fe and Albuquerque to the south and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to the north.

Legs trashed from climbing? Grab a road bike and head west from downtown, across Highway 599, and into the Las Campanas neighborhood, where you’ll find a well-paved and gently rolling 10-mile–high desert loop. The nearby La Tierra trails are great for recovery runs or less–technical mountain biking.

Bonus: If you’re traveling with a pooch, most of Santa Fe’s public trails are dog friendly, and leash laws are loosely enforced if your pup is well-behaved.

Eat Here

The Betterday $
What: Breakfast burritos
905 W Alameda Street

Shake Foundation $
What: Burgers and milkshakes
631 Cerillos Road

Tesuque Village Market $$
What: Chile relleno
138 Tesuque Village Road

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