Tuesday, March 15 at 9 pm, Mindy and I set out from the Santa Fe Outlet Malls to catch the 9:54 NM Rail Runner back to Albuquerque. The ride is only 2.5 miles, but that is not the real danger this road poses. The quickest, perhaps only, bikable route is to pedal south on NM 14. The route has a distinctly rural feel to it meaning that it is dark.
Now I'm pretty fearless and have a sort of connection with my bike because of lots of hours riding in the dark, sometimes intoxicated, sometimes altered in some other way. So I know to feel the road beneath me, follow the white stripe along the shoulder (when it's there) and just keep moving through loose gravel, over random pieces of junk that seems to accumulate on the sides of roads. My biggest fear is puncturing a tire while riding over a nail, board, etc. Basically, riding on shoulders suck. I want to get over as far as a I can, but most shoulders, especially if the road isn't designated as a bike route is just inviting trouble.
NM 14 is not designed with bikes in mind. The shoulders are littered with gravel and debris and the traffic moves much faster than the posted 55. The road widens and shrinks, meaning some people will give bikers a wide berth at times while at others cut a biker off because they are angling for the on ramp of the highway. And there are multiple, dark, on and off ramps that you have to go through while riding. So basically, riding this road at night is just asking for disaster. Even with my attached bike lights (pictured above) and another one that is attached to my stem, the light is really only helping speeding drivers see me because they certainly aren't enough to ride by on this stretch of road.
Thus, it was with relief that John Flax of Theater Grottesco stressed that taking Mindy and I to the train stop was not a problem. He has a truck and goes that way to get home. We gladly took him up on his offer on Wednesday.
I wish I could point to a better solution than "find a ride" to the train station, but unless the state does some major improvements, this road, especially at night, is way too dangerous.