Santa Fe Seniors on Bikes cycles the city and beyond.

By Julian Dossett I Photos by Steven St. John



Santa Fe New Mexican


Santa Fe Seniors on Bikes cycles the city. Beneath a blazing sun, cyclists cruise down two-lane County Road 98 outside the village of Chimayó, about 35 miles north of Santa Fe. Looking forward to lunch plates smothered in chile as hot as the July morning they’re pedaling through, the tired, happy riders, sporting red and yellow cycling jerseys with the Seniors on Bikes club insignia, cruise into the Rancho de Chimayó parking lot. Affectionately known as the SOBs, Santa Fe Seniors on Bikes has brought together riders aged 50 years and up for about 30 years. Some 200 cyclists ride with the club, though the numbers for rides vary. The group meets three to four mornings a week for rides in and around the Santa Fe area, which gives members the opportunity for regular exercise and to spend time with like-minded people. “I love the camaraderie and friendships that have been built up over the years,” says Judy Costlow, Seniors on Bikes president. The weekly rides usually cover about 20 to 50 miles, with groups designated by fitness and ambition levels, but people are welcome to ride for part of the way as well. “The whole thing is that we’re in it together,” Costlow says. “And if somebody needs help, we help.” The road cycling club has helped foster Santa Fe’s biking community, with Lynn Pickard working as the club’s advocate for local bikers. In this role she’s active at local government meetings, where she speaks for the group, working to ensure that new road designs cater to cyclists as well as drivers. “I joined the SOBs and haven’t looked back,” Pickard says. Costlow and Pickard both picked up cycling decades ago as an environmentally friendly alternative to driving. They found freedom, fitness, and fun along the way. “Biking helps me clear my mind when I am feeling sad, stressed, or just wanting to be me! And the memories I have from bicycling make me laugh, or absolutely amaze me that my limits were exceeded and I did it! Those memories will last my lifetime!” Costlow says. When Costlow and Pickard first began riding in Santa Fe, they felt like anomalies. “It seemed that I was the only person on a bike,” Pickard says. “That was in the 1970s, and every year it gets better and better.” In 2011 the League of American Bicyclists recognized Santa Fe as a bronze-level Bicycle Friendly Community, and the city works to accommodate biking in town, Costlow says, by “building new bike trails and extending the existing trails — and there are just a ton more people riding on both for exercise.” Biking trails now thread through Santa Fe — some 50 miles of urban trails with another 37 miles proposed. The city has also created road markings that designate biking lanes, called “sharrows” to remind motorists to share the lanes, helping to keep cyclists safe. A medical study published in 2018 found that “ease of use” has contributed to bicycling’s increased popularity in adults 65-plus, offering benefits to muscle groups used for balance and strength as well as improved cardiovascular function.