The Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta 2016 is happening very soon! I just can't wait to see all those hot air balloons in the sky. The 45th annual event will feature more than 500 hot air balloons and lots of people. The Balloon Fiesta can have crowds of 80,000 people so that means lots of cars and traffic. Trust me it is so worth it to deal with traffic as this event is so awesome. There are ways to avoid the traffic and the long lines to park and I am going to share my favorite way to get to the Balloon Fiesta. My favorite way to get to Balloon Fiesta is by bike and it is a 15-30 minute trip. If you choose to bike you not only get some great exercise but you also save $10 on parking and the stress of waiting forever in the long lines of traffic. There is even free valet parking for your bike which is staffed by local bicycle group volunteers.
Biking to the Balloon Fiesta is a great way to avoid congested traffic and parking conditions near Balloon Fiesta Park. My son and I biked to the event a couple of years ago and discovered a bike trail that runs along the AMAFCA North Diversion Channel and crosses underneath Paseo del Norte and Alameda Blvd. This trail continues north where it crosses from the west side to the east side ending just north of the Balloon Museum. There you will find the Bike Valet staffed by local bicycle group volunteers. There are many bike trails in Albuquerque that lead to this bike trail but I found an easier way to get to this trail and it involves way less bicycling time too. You simply put your bike in or on the car and park at the Los Ranchos/Journal Rail Runner station and the bike trail begins at that station. I recommend using this method on on the weekends and it might be hard to find a parking spot during the week.
I biked this trail last weekend and it only took be 15 minutes to get to the Balloon Fiesta park. The best part about this trail is you don't even have to ride with traffic as it is bike trails all the way. I am going to share some tips on how to bike safely to the park. Since the balloons go up way early in the morning you will be biking in the dark so other than making sure your tires have air, make sure you have lights on your bike. Please remember when you ride to the morning sessions you will be arriving in the dark and when you leave the evening sessions you will be leaving in the dark. I recommend both a back taillight and front headlight as the trail will be dark. I also recommend a LED Light Reflective Safety Vest for great eye-catching visibility in the dark. I discovered a vest that works great for biking and running. This vest is light weight and comfortable. I really like the way the LED lights light up my body so I can be seen by other bikers. My younger boys want to borrow my safety vest for their Halloween costume this year. It is adjustable so it will fit them and it will make trick or treating safer too.
Other tips that I have for biking to the Balloon Fiesta are
Dress Warm in Layers It can be quite chilly in the early morning so make sure you are dressed warm and don't forget the gloves. As Albuquerque warms up once the sun comes out you can then shed some of the layers of clothes for your bike ride back to your car.
Wear a Helmet Always be safe when bike riding and protect your head with a bike helmet.
Bring Water Even though it is cold out you will need water as you are exercising.
Bring a Backpack A backpack is great to carry your water and snacks in. Make sure there is room to put any clothes that you take off like a sweatshirt as it warms up.
Take Along Snacks You will need some snacks to give you the energy to bike back to your car, of course, you can always buy some food at the Fiesta.
Money You will need money to get into the Fiesta and to buy great food like breakfast burritos and New Mexico Pinon coffee.
Bike Baskets These are nice to have but not necessary. I do a lot of bike riding and use my baskets for trips to the grocery store. If you have a basket or pouch, bring it to carry back any souvenirs. The backpack is also good for this.
CellPhone I know most people don't leave the house without this. The phone is not only great for calls but also for all the pictures you will be taking. So bring a portable charger too. A camera also works great too. Who remembers the day when the Balloon Fiesta sold disposable cameras and film?
So considered biking this year to Balloon Fiesta and avoid all the traffic. You will get some great exercise and save money too. Check out all the below links for more information on the Balloon Fiesta and biking. I also included some links of bike maps and trails in Albuquerque just in case you want a great workout and want to bike all the way from your house.
Official website of Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta http://www.balloonfiesta.com/
Balloon Fiesta guest guide for biking http://www.balloonfiesta.com/guest-guide/bike-valet
Map of Albuquerque multi-user trails to the bike valet parking
Los Ranchos/Journal Rail Runner station info
Web site to purchase the LED Light Reflective Safety Vest
Photo from the Balloon Fiesta night time glow.
"These opinions are my own and I received a LED Light Reflective Safety Vest to facillitate this post."