This advice may seem obvious, but it bears repeating:

Don't trust Google Maps


On Friday afternoon, I got the jump on

by riding from downtown Santa Fe to a state office complex near the outlet mall south of town for an interview.

In my experience, the fastest route south is along Agua Fria, so I took that road to the end. Then, per Google and the official Santa Fe bike map (

), I took Paseo Del Sol south, expecting to hit shortcut shown on the map—what looks like a straightforward county road with one fork.

It's actually this:

... An ever-narrowing dirt track, guarded at one end by a partly open chain-link fence (


private property signs), that eventually led to a

sandy, impassable arroyo


The trail had myriad exits, some of which are private driveways that lead to mobile homes guarded by the kind of dogs that love nothing more than to chase a passing cyclist for dozens of yards.

At least they weren't pit bulls

. They looked to be poodles. But still.

After all that and a construction site, I made it to my appointment

15 minutes early


Which only goes to show: You can bike just about anywhere in this town in about as much time as it would take to drive. Besides, a part of me

enjoys getting lost

on my bike in Santa Fe's far corners. You see things that way that you'd never see in a car, even after years of driving around town. That's why I decided to take the dirt trail anyway, even after I saw it wasn't the efficient shortcut the map had suggested. (A less masochistic bike commuter could've made it to the same destination on time without the hassle by taking Jaguar Drive to Cerrillos Road, then following the frontage road.)

To be sure, Google Maps isn't the only offender. This detail comes from the

. It shows where you'll wind up if you decide to ride down into the south side of town from the hills of Las Campanas:

I will say only this: Don't wear your best shoes.

It's called Paseo De River for a reason