Thursday, August 28, 2014

Mountain Rides 19 and 20

Day 20 Longview Road Trailhead

To get to this site in the East Mountains, drive East on Old Route 66 from Albuquerque, head West on 5 hills, and then left on Longview Rd all the way to the end. The views are indeed magnificent. However, the trails in parts are badly eroded from our recent heavy rains and some sections, especially over loose limestone, were excessively rocky from a combination of erosion and ORV use over the years. I found 6 miles of rideable trails that were not too bad. Still I am sure you'd agree, the scenery on a late summer day is fantastic in this area.
No sign at the Trail head.

View of the Sandias from the East

Simpsons Clouds

Day 19 Carnuel

This site is one of the closest to my house, but I rarely explore here, because the singletrack is mostly lacking. It links with the 4 Hills trails that I featured earlier. There is one word to describe this area: potential. Maybe two words, unmet potential. There is running water, cottonwood trees, and amazing views! But little good singletrack and far too much 4-wheeler erosion.
Trail head off of old 66 with Four hills in the distance

View to the East
Spectacular view to the West

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Mountain rides 17 - 18.

Mountain ride Day 18 Embudito

Embudito Trailhead

The Embudito trailhead in the foothills trail system is probably the most popular place to ride or hike in Albuquerque. Today I saw a grand total of three other riders (compared to zero for yesterday's ride which is typical for non--weekend rides in the East Mountains). I bet the trailhead will be packed this weekend though. Rides here are on the eroded granite substrate making up most of the Sandia foothills. The rides are fast and fun, without excessively steep climbs and little rock to negotiate. Overall an A+ ride. I just don't go here often because I prefer solitude...

Mountain ride Day 17 Coyote
Coyote TH

Coyote Trail to Coyote Split Trail. Rain turned me around on this ride, that plus the fact that it was getting dark. I discovered that rain can make even a blasted out rocky ride like the Coyote trail fun for mountain bikes. In recent summers, erosion from trail bikes, dying trees, and drought have made for a sometimes lunar landscape. Now grass has grown, flowers are springing up, and the trail is nicely packed down, making for good riding and good scenery. The Coyote Split trail is less than a mile long, branching from the main Coyote trail. The split trail is narrow, with sandstone features making for some interesting and slightly technical riding, but mostly super fun.
Turnoff to Coyote Split Trail

Split trail

Monday, August 25, 2014

Ride 16 San Anonito Open Space

Prashanth Setty and I set out to explore the San Antonito Open Space in Cedar Crest today. Its trails are accessible off of Ridge road from North 14 in Cedar Crest.
Here is Prashanth enjoying the singletrack - packed sand with some loose sandstone, in this little-known part of Albuquerque Open Space. The trail that goes to the Northwest extends a good distance along a moderately steep and rocky ridge. Typical New Mexico riding in that the trail was relatively narrow and sometimes indistinct. Not another soul to be seen.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Wilderness First Aid course for the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance

The New Mexico Wilderness Alliance and the UNM Austere and Mountain Medicine joined forces this week for a Wilderness First Aid Class

Trevor teaching Tina and other New Mexico Wilderness Alliance staff members:

NMWA staff participating in patient scenario:
Angel survived, thankfully.

Above: Trevor teaching the use of tourniquets in the Albuquerque Foothills Open Space
Below: Me teaching splinting and joint immobilization
 Discussing anaphylaxis and the use of epi-pens:

Cervical spine immobilization with a SAM splint:

 Trevor showing how to transport a patient:

We had a successful event to be followed by additional wilderness medicine training. For further reading, here is an excellent wilderness blog authored by NMWA's communications coordinator (pictured above).

Mountain Rides Days 12-15

Day 15 Four Hills (Manzano Open Space). Although the Albuquerque Foothills get all the attention, across Interstate 40, the Four Hills area has a pretty big slice of open space, extending to Carnuel to the North and to the Kirtland AFB to the South. It is a little disconcerting to know that nukes are stored in the AFB bunkers, but the terrain here is surprisingly pretty:

Day 14 Exploring the Arroyo - San Pedro Creek from Golden Open Space

There are some rideable trails that extend from the Golden Open Space into San Pedro Creek. This area is State and BLM land. Some trails have clearly been used on occasion by mountain bikes and
horses and hikers.

Perhaps the arroyo is not the safest place to be on a rainy day - it rained on my way out - but it makes for rare conditions allowing easy travel on the sandy soil. I saw evidence of mule deer, coyote, and maybe elk. No people. 

Exploring Gutierrez Canyon - Day 12 and Day 13

Gutierrez Canyon Open Space is a gem that offers two loops. None of the individual trails area named, and the bigger loop goes outside the open space through a Cedar Crest neighborhood.

Here is the view of Cedar Crest with the sun coming over the Sandias near sunset:

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

New Mexico Rides 10 and 11

For the 100 rides in 100 days project, I am not taking any days off. So when I work a 12 hour day shift, my riding opportunities are limited. For Day 10, I rode on the sandy washes and doubletrack near the Sandoval Regional Medical Center in Rio Rancho.

The dirt road apparently has a name on Google maps: Cartegena Road.

It was surprisingly pretty terrain and rideable despite the sandy substrate.

On Day 11, I just explored  the Capulin Snowplay Area near the Sandia Ski Area.
Te elevation starts at 8700 feet and goes up from there, so the riding could not be any different from the previous days ride.

These trails are made to be bombed down, not ridden up, so I spent much time pushing my bike. I was rewarded with great aspen views.
The trail meets up with the 10K trail, where I paused at 9800 feet elevation before crossing the road and beginning my descent on the 10K south and cross country ski trails that lead to the 9 mile picnic area.
Next time, I would definitely ascend on the South side of the road and return on the North.
Both ways are steep, but options exist to make the ascent more gradual on the South side.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Mountain Bike New Mexico - Rides Days 7-9

Day 7 - Albuquerque Public School Mud Spring Trail. Permission is required for this ride. Call the number listed on the photo if you want to visit.

Wildlife on this ride included a miniature horned lizard.

Quite frankly this ride is better hiked than ridden, because most of the connector trails - like a beautiful one to the Faulty trail - go into designated Wilderness areas (no bikes allowed, really.)

This ride was followed by another entry into the National Forest (non-Wilderness and bikes allowed) from Ranch Rd off of North 14 in Cedar Crest - The trail enters off of Pinyon Road. Permission is technically required to enter this way too, and access is easier from the Cienega horse bypass trail and Cienega parking areas. Those spots are currently closed for forest thinning but will be the topic of future posts. This area links to the Faulty trail by way of the Armijo trail. A variety of unnamed trails also exist in this area which is nice for exploration and solitude.

Day 8 - Back to Golden Open Space with friends. Golden is flanked by BLM land in tan and State land in blue. It is surrounded by private holdings and is located just to the West of the Cibola National Forest.

Warm day and humid, since it had just rained. But an excellent day to ride in a special location with friends. (Forgive the sweat on the camera lens)

Spectacular light on the sandstone formations and sparse vegetation.

Factoid - Golden Open Space was one of the first Albuquerque open space areas set aside, in 1964!

We were able to complete a loop by riding in the rain saturated arroyo, making this ride technically different from the one posted earlier. The arroyo and the trails showed evidence of much recent erosion from our monsoon rains. Not safe in or near a rainstorm, certainly! However, on this day, it was a real treat to ride in the arroyo through sandstone formations.

Day 9 - Gutierrez Open Space, this is a 700+ acre set aside natural area, which is also part of the Albuquerque Open Space network.

These are excellent, excellent, excellent trails. I visited this area to day with Matt DiFrancesca, visiting emergency medicine medical student and wilderness medicine instructor.

We accessed Gutierrez Open space from Gutierrez Canyon road, off of Old 66 near Tijeras New Mexico. Click below for directions and a map.

Smiles abound on one of the nicest sections of singletrack in the Albuquerque area, and one of the best singletrack descents! We'll be back to this area for sure.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Sun injury - Questions and Answers - Part 1

The following is material that I presented at our recent Marine and Diving Medicine course in CuraƧao. Sun is an important topic since sunburn can ruin an otherwise excellent vacation and UV is an important contributor to skin cancer.

Solar Injury - Part One

1) Is solar radiation all bad?
Clearly no. Without infrared radiation - we would freeze to death. Without light, we would all starve, by viture of having no plants to eat. finally, without UV radiation causing Vitamin D production we would get rickets and increased levels of cancers.

2)What are the three relevant kinds of Ultraviolet radiation (UVR) of importance to humans?
UVR comes in 3 flavors. The first UVC, has the shortest wavelengths, and therefore the greatest energy, measuring 200 - 290 nanometers. UVC is of importance only where the protective ozone layer has been destroyed, e.g. arctic regions and extreme southern Chile and Argentina. Elsewhere, UVC is entirely absorbed in the stratosphere by ozone and oxygen.

UVB measures (290-320nm) and is responsible for Vitamin D production from 7-dehydroxycholesterol, via the skin, liver and kidney. UVB is also responsible for tanning, burning and skin cancers, though not melanoma.

UVA has longer wavelengths (320 - 400), and contributes to photoaging, tanning, burning, and some skin cancers. UVA also triggers phototoxicity of certain pharmaceuticals.

3) What environmental features most affect the amount of UVA and UVB that reaches the skin?

Time of day: 65% between 10a and 2p, but with daylight savings all bets are off!
Season is important. June has 100x more UVR than December
Latitude: 3% decrease with every degree of latitude from equator. Albuquerque 35 degrees N, Taos is 36.
UVA varies less with daytime and latitude changes - scatters less than shorter wavelength UVB.

Surface features: water reflects small amount of UVR. Snow reflects much more. (85%).

Clouds - attenuate UV radiation by 20-80% - generally 40%. Better absorber of IR radiation (heat).

Altitude: 10% increase with every 1000 feet elevation. Wind exacerbates solar damage - erythema- of skin. Moisture increases dermal absorption of UVR.

Pollution increases absorption of UVR through particulates and ozone.

4) Which goes through auto glass? Answer UVA, not UVB

5) What is albedo?
Reflection of solar radiation from white objects, e.g. and especially snow!
Snow reflects 85% of UVR.

6) What is a sunburn?
Erythema - cutaneous inflammatory response. Accompanied by DNA damage, cytotoxicity. Microscopy may reveal  edema, vasodilation, endothelial cell swelling. “Sunburn cells” appear late - enlarged nuclei and vacuolated cytoplasm.Histamine is released.  Mast cells degranulate. Melanocytes have vacuolization.

7) For a given dermal dose of UVR, can anything mitigate sunburn?
Antioxidants given BEFORE but not after, can decrease erythema. Topical indomethacin (an NSAID) will reduce erythema for 24 hours post exposure. Antihistamines do not work. Topical steroids can blanch some of the erythema. Evidence for oral steroids is lacking.

8) What is the MED
MED stands for mean erythema dose, and is the smallest amount of UVR, generally UVB, that can cause discernable dermal erythema. MED is often measured in time, eg. the MED may be  20 minutes of exposure in Florida in a fair skinned person. DNA absorption of UVB correlates with extent of erythema. Pyrimidine dimers correlate with erythema

9) What is a tan? Immediate pigment darkening occurs from melanin precursors that are preformed. Delayed pigment darkening occurs from UVB and UVA (mostly UVA) when melanocytes proliferate and melanin synthesis occurs.

10) Can you get a sunburn on the palm of your hand.
Probably not because the stratum corneum absorbs and scatters 95% of UVR depending on thickness.

11) What causes rednecks to have red necks?
Photoaging is accompanied by connective tissue damage and decreased elasticity.

12) Should I wear sunglasses when I ski (or snowboard)?
Yes you should wear sunglasses to prevent ocular overexposure of UVB. Snowblindness, or photokeratitis of the cornea, is characterized by corneal edema, corneal surface defects, and blurred vision. Remember - you can always improvise a pair of sunglasses from duct tape!

13) What causes basal cell carcinomas?
Intermittent sun exposure in freckly fair skinned people (e.g the author of this review).

14) Is the age of solar exposure important in developing skin cancer?
Yes. Australians who arrived from Britain younger than 18 have high rates of Basal Carcinomas. If they arrived older than 18, immigrants to Australia had skin cancer rates similar to their British counterparts.

15) Is cumulative lifetime exposure to UVR asociated with Squamous cell carcinomas?
Answer: No! Intermittent exposure, fair skin and red hair are risk factors, cumulative lifetime exposure is not. E.g. the leatherneck construction worker may not be at risk for SCCA.

16) Does high cumulative lifetime exposure to UVR cause melanomas?
No, increased occupational exposure over a lifetime decreases the risk of melanoma! Lower latitude and intermittent high doses of UVR, especially at young ages seems to correlate with melanoma risk. Melanoma is associated with increased number of nevi. Nevi numbers increase with childhood UVR doses.

References: Wilderness Medicine, Ed. Paul Auerbach

Sandia Foothills

The South Foothills area of Albuquerque is the site of my Day 6 mountain bike ride. Monsoon moisture has revived the vegetation after years of drought and annual flowers are popping up. Still what passes for green in the Sandia Foothills is a lightish-green brown!

Storms to the West make for a dramatic appearance:

This has been typical weather for this week making for excellent biking.