Last week the SOB Riders returned to El Rito!! The weather was beautiful; it why we ride Northern New Mexico!! Riding north on Highway 84 in 2 pace lines, we encountered a little more road debris then usual on the shoulder; however, the shoulder is wide enough to avoid the hazards. Along the way some of the same houses were still for sale; but the landscape was pure rural New Mexico. We regrouped at the State Highway 554 turn to El Rito and began the long but mild 12 mile climb to El Rito and the Ranger Station.
El Rito, (Spanish for Little River), sits at 6,875 feet elevation. El Rito was one of the first Spanish settlements in northern New Mexico. The historic Church of San Juan Nepomuceno was begun by the first Spanish settlers of the El Rito Valley in 1827 and completed in 1832. With small window openings in the 5 ft. thick walls, it not only served as a church, but also as a defensive fortification in this frontier area of New Mexico. The influence of french priests changed some of the interior decoration, but the church has retained much of its original look through its 150 years. Major structural collapse occurred in 1979 and was reconstructed in 1982. It has been termed by noted historians and architects as one of the most beautiful examples of historical New Mexican churches. Our next trek to El Rito warrants a visit. Originally named El Rito Colorado, the red creek, it took its name from the creek that passes through the village. Tewas call the El Rito region “pink below place” for the El Rito Mountains, known to them as the pink mountains.
Urban renewal is in full swing in El Rito. The Martin General Store has a new coat of paint; and El Rito is home to a new 2nd “skyscraper”.
After the “regroup” we continued our climb to the end of State Highway 554 through the El Rito Mountains and around Cerro Colorado. We turned around at State Highway 111 not wanting to face the heavy traffic now consuming Highway 285. The return to El Rito, Highway 84 and the start point was a welcomed downhill even with the ever building head wind! Overall it was a SUPER day to ride! We logged 63+ miles, 3,000+ ft of climbing and a respectable 15+ MPH average.
Another… GREAT SOB ride and adventure in the books!! YAHOO!