Old Town Farm is a portal into the layered tapestries of history, culture, tradition and subtle change that make Albuquerque interesting. Long before the Europeans came in the mid-1500s, this land was farmed by the people of the Tiguex Puebloan province that stretched along miles of the middle Rio Grande valley. They created an irrigation system that is now believed to be the oldest registered irrigation ditch in the United States.
Today, most of the small farms along the river have become neighborhoods, parks and open space. A few – like Old Town Farm - remain. Which brings us to – bicycling?
After three decades of operating Old Town Farm as a horse boarding and training facility, owners Linda and Lanny began transitioning from horses to produce by converting horse pens into garden plots. As the farm-to-table idea became more popular, surplus from the farm’s Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) led to weekend sales at the Downtown Farmers Market. Where, it turned out, a great number of people came by bicycle.
Old Town Farm is bordered on the west by the Madre de Duranes, but its northern edge is I-40…along which runs a paved bike path with direct access to Old Town Farm by way of a gate formerly used by equestrians. The I-40 trail connects to the Bosque Bike Trail a half mile west. That trail runs north and south along the Rio Grande for more than twenty miles. Just south is Mountain Road – a city-designated Bike Boulevard (18 mph). Bike superhighways…
People began biking in for vegetables. Next came the idea to create a coffee shop. That became Bike In Coffee, where sometimes as many as 200 riders drop by on weekends for garden fresh food, smoothies and of course, coffee.
This goes to show just how large and vibrant the cycling community here is and why Albuquerque is Cycling City, USA. The city offers:
- 175 miles of bike trails, bike lanes and bike boulevards,
- Various terrain – flat, gentle grades, steep grades, paved, sandy, rocky….
- Bike clubs for mountain bikers, racers, fatbike enthusiasts, custom cruisers, tourers,
- Bike rentals, Zagster stations, hotel bikes,
- Bike tours around Albuquerque – and you can even put your bike on the Railrunner train to Santa Fe.
Any given weekend at Old Town Farm you will find… a regular visitor coming in after a 100 mile ride through the mountains; a friend with a disability rolling in on a recumbent bike with hand pedals; bikers with tiny tots in attached trailers; tandem bikes; bike dogs in handlebar baskets; kids on BMX bikes; meet-up groups relaxing before heading out on their scheduled rides; neighborhood riders biking in, grabbing a cup, and biking out with a backpack full of veggies or farm-fresh eggs.
They all share a love of the outdoors, being active and being nice. A happier and more diverse group of human beings is hard to find. And what brings them all together is the bicycle. It brings the kid out in everyone. And Cycling City, USA is the place where a bike makes it all happen.