ZAM 2: New Mexico - The Adventure Continues

Nov 29, 2013
by zam  
,ZAM, which means journey in Mongolian, is the project of European mountain biking legend and four time Red Bull Rampage participant Richard "Gaspi" Gasperotti. Gaspi's journey began in 2012 when he went to the remote Mongolian Altai Mountains to explore new, wild and undiscovered terrain in a specially adapted van which became his means of transportation, his base camp and an escort vehicle for a crew of four.


The Mongolian adventure also set the stage for the eponymous documentary, ,ZAM, which went on to gain international acclaim at outdoor film festivals and also won Gaspi fourth place in the international online poll for Adventurer of the Year 2012.


2013 saw ‚ZAM begin the newest chapter of its never-ending journey to the world's most fascinating places. The team was initially headed to the mountains of northern Mexico, but investigation into the region brought up safety issues that couldn't be ignored, so it was decided that ,ZAM's next destination would be New Mexico, USA.


You may think of other US states that are more synonymous with mountain biking such as Utah, Colorado, Washington or California, but the goal for Gaspi and ,ZAM is to find the trails hidden in unexplored areas and that is why New Mexico was chosen. And so with two weeks ahead and no certain plans made, the story of ,Zam No.2. New Mexico began.



,ZAM 2: New Mexico

The trip s begun in New York City. Lukas picked up the car in the harbour rode through the continent and waited for the rest of the crew at the LAX airport.
The trip began in New York City with Lukas picking up the car from shipping and then driving across the continent to meet the rest of the ,ZAM crew at the LAX airport.

After all night right the dawning reached us in New Mexico od the road No. 491 from Gallup to Shiprock.
After driving all night, dawn breaks on us in New Mexico on highway 491 from Gallup to Shiprock.

Gaspi marks promising places in the map. Some spots are going to appear as good for riding some unfortunately not. But this is price for discovering.
Gaspi marks promising looking places on the map. Some spots turned out to be good for riding, others unfortunately did not, but that's part and parcel of adventure.

Helicopter test. The idea was to make some video shots from the air but the DJI Phantom Quadcopter made the scenes blurred.
Helicopter test. The idea was to take some shots from the air but the DJI Phantom Quadcopter only turned out blurred footage.

We tried to find some spots around Angel Peak 7178 ft but without big success.
We tried to find some spots to ride around Angel Peak which reaches 7,178 ft, but didn't have much success.

The soil was too soft for riding and the rocks cracked. After the first run Gaspi decided to ride further.
The soil was too soft for riding and the rocks cracked. After the first run Gaspi decided to drive on.

The engine of our van can combust both fuel petrol and propane which made the trip cheaper. Here we tank at the gas station during our way from Durango Colorado back to New Mexico.
The van runs on both petrol and propane, which made the trip cheaper. Here we are filling up at a gas station in Durango, Colorado, on the way to New Mexico.

New Mexico was a very pleasant surprise for everyone in our crew. Gaspi was happy
New Mexico was a very pleasant surprise for everyone in our crew. Gaspi was happy!

Lot of old cars can be seen in many yards and gardens.
Lots of old cars can be seen in yards and gardens.

We transported both Gaspi s bikes on the roof rack which enabled us to have more space in the van.
We transported both of Gaspi's bikes on the roof rack which enabled us to have more space in the van.

Director of photography Martin Smolik makes some close ups as Gaspi is passing him and enjoying the last sun rays of the day.
Director of photography Martin Smolik gets some close ups of Gaspi as he enjoys the last of the sun's rays for the day.

Rivers creeks and dried trees can be seen in the valley near Abiqui . Abiqui is also the location where the opening shot of the 4th Indiana Jones movie Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was shot.
Rivers, creeks and dried trees cover the valley near Abiquiú. Abiquiú is also where the opening shot of the 4th Indiana Jones movie, "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," was shot.

We better watched our steps. Sign was not joking. At least for one time we spotted the real rattle snake
We'd better watch our step! This sign was not a joke, we spotted at least one real rattlesnake.

Gaspi was riding on the edge aware not to fall into the darkness.
Gaspi, riding on the edge trying not to fall into the darkness.

In the hot places of New Mexico there are always lot of dried trees which are never far away of sticking their old branches into your front wheel or glasses.
In New Mexico dried trees are never far away from sticking their old branches into your front wheel or glasses.

In Europe we are not used to such warm colors. This is a real beauty of New Mexico.
In Europe we are not used to such warm colours. This is the real beauty of New Mexico.

For a good riding photos you need a rider bike a good light. Here we had it all though without riding.
For good riding photos you need a rider, a bike and good light. Here we had it all without the riding.

When we check the warning closer we found out that we can be fined 5000 USD for entering the gate of Ghost Ranch National Park which was closed due to the lack of federal funding.
When we checked the warning closer we found out that we could be fined $5,000 USD for entering the gate of Ghost Ranch National Park which was closed due to the lack of federal funding.

This is the way how we folk from central Europe imagine New Mexico cowboys at work.
This is the way how we folk from central Europe envision New Mexico: cowboys at work.

Flat tire Again Every morning began with coffee break at the gas station and changing tubes. In New Mexico there are thorns on every trail.
Flat tire again! Every morning began with a coffee break at the gas station and the changing of tubes. In New Mexico there are thorns on every trail.

Seems like easy trail but check out the rock on the left. The wall was steep as hell.
It may seem like an easy trail but check out the rock on the left. The wall was steep as hell.

It would be great to say that Gaspi jumped out of the window but it was rather a U-ledge.
It would be great to say that Gaspi jumped out of the window but it was more like a U-ledge.

New Mexico is not only a land of enchantment but also a land of lot of surprises. One day your ride in the short sleeves and another you wake up under the snow like in in Santa Fe.
New Mexico is not only the land of enchantment but a land of surprises. One day you can be riding in short sleeves and the next you wake up and it's snowing, like here in Santa Fe.

Again we struggled with lack of money. The mornings at the parking points can be very uncomfortable.
Even the restrooms were closed due to lack of funding, making for some uncomfortable mornings.

Snow was melting slowly on the hood in spite of the heat of the running engine.
The snow was melting slowly on the hood despite the heat of the running engine.

High above Santa Fe you can find a starting point of 12 miles long Nordic trail leading to the town.
High above Santa Fe you can find the starting point of a 12 mile long Nordic trail that leads to town.

In the lower section snow disappeared with every berm. But still it was good to have a warm jacket full zipped.
On the lower section of trail the snow disappeared with every berm. But it was still good to have a warm jacket fully zipped.

Not another part of year not another part of planet. This was the same day but little later in the afternoon and only 50 miles farther from Santa in the location called Nambe Pueblo.
Not another time of year, not another part of the planet. This was the same day but a little later in the afternoon and only 50 miles north of Santa Fe in Nambe Pueblo.

Although this is no Rampage Gaspi is still having fun on the bike.
Although this is no Rampage, Gaspi still has fun on the bike.

After a day of good riding it s hard not to smile
After a day of good riding it's hard not to smile.

Must Read This Week

55 Comments

  • + 34
 As a New Mexican I have to agree that this piece was cool for featuring our state, but a little disappointing that the assumption was that there is no local scene to tap into. It is also a bummer to see so much out of bounds stuff. It makes for great photo journalism, but living out here for 21 years it sucks to see someone show up and trash hundreds if not thousands of years of soil creation. I dig the concept this guy has going, but a little local research would go a long way to not alienating the local population not to mention the local authorities with whom we try to collaborate. It'll be fun to see this on a big screen at the next land access meeting when the Sierra Club shows it as an example of why mountain biking is bad for the environment.

If I have any advice at all it would be to keep up the adventure, but change your perspective a bit to take advantage of the commraderie inherent in our sport. The mtbr board for New Mexico (for all of its faults) is always patrolled by people willing to show visitors around.
  • + 1
 Well stated!
  • + 15
 WT?.... Go tubeless in the deserts of American Southwest. It's the only way. And while you're at it, ride some epic trails and riding spots that the locals know about instead of "free riding" over fragile desert terrain in a national park.
  • + 1
 TUBES......HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAhahahahahhahhahhhahahahahaaaaa
  • + 6
 They should have put out requests to local riders. We have lots of stuff here and even though they found some cool ridge lines having people show you sure beats looking on a map and guessing where stuff is.


m.pinkbike.com/video/312740

Too much awesome
  • + 1
 What trails? I just moved to NM.
  • + 1
 They were in Shiprock and couldn't make the trek to Alien Run only 30 miles away??
  • + 1
 @louisanphoto.

Where do you live? theres good trails all over filled with free ride features and tech. I just got injured and wont be riding for a bit but if you want i could give you good directions... what sort of riding do you like to do??
  • + 1
 @Fuglio

I live in Farmington. I love pretty much all types of trails. I am more inclined to flowy trails with jump features or so. I do like tech as well. I love to DH, riding my Enduro on DH and jump trails have been awesome.

For reference I have a full suspension AM 26er with 160/150 mm and a SS 29er with 80 mm in the front. The trails I've ridden here so far have been XC trails around Farmington. I have picked up a trailmap of Durango, CO for future reference.

Thanks in advance.
  • - 1
 Hopefully they will never come back to NM.
  • + 9
 New Mexico is one of the most underrated states for riding! Some of the most diverse and most fun trails I have ridden.
  • + 1
 Until you need to change your tube again... ...because of snakebites... ...by rattlesnakes.
  • + 2
 Thats why I love living here!! And we miss you Mark!! @zrider79
  • + 1
 Good to see my home state getting attention. (:
  • + 9
 Angel Fire is in New Mexico Smile
  • + 8
 Shhhh.
  • + 6
 Great to see New Mexico featured. It's too bad they didn't contact some locals to find the really amazing riding. Northern New Mexico has, hands down some of the most diverse, rocky, technical riding found anywhere.
  • + 5
 You missed, soooooooooooooooooooooooooooo much! As stated above, with just a tiny bit of research you could have tapped into some of the most epic freeride, technical enduro, and kick-ass downhill riding in the country! Look up Pajarito Mountain, The Well, and Santa Fe La Tierra Trashpit just to name a few, the next time your in our neck of the woods.
  • + 4
 Ooh it's so cool, wow I'm wetting my pants! Sorry folks, but getting tired of seeing too cool for school riders trashing fragile desert/hoodoo type environments. He's nothing but a poster boy for the anti mtn bike folks. Kind of a similar situation happened several years ago with all the boarders poaching their huge lines in Alaska and nary an avy beacon or snow shovel to be seen. At least that community wised up, sorta.
  • + 3
 PB just voted POY a dirt destruction, everybody applaused to "where the trail ends" which is about the same idea...

So if you're not american, going to ride in China or anywhere else (excluding america), and if you don't have the right choice of helmet, please just don't post anything on PB.
  • + 4
 When we checked the warning closer we found out that we could be fined $5,000 USD for entering the gate of Ghost Ranch National Park which was closed due to the lack of federal funding.


BUT WE DID IT ANYWAY !!!!!! HAHAHA
  • + 3
 Yeah, I can't figure out why they close the parks. They could just stop running them and leave them open to the public.
  • + 7
 the federal shutdown was used as a sort of sanction against the american people. "give me what i want or i'm taking my ball and going home"
  • - 2
 You can thank the Sierra club for shutting down public parks to its citizens. They believe that if no one can touch it or see it America will be a better place. Poach the trails. If they cant afford to clean the out house then they cant afford to have rangers patrol the place. Just don't park near the gate.
  • + 4
 During the shut down they paid rangers to stand at the entrances of some parks with guns. They also put fences around monuments. The idea was to hold us hostage until we called our congress men to ask them to pass a budget. Funny thing is, if they instead just let us govern ourselves then we would either realize we need the rangers, or realize we don't. They couldn't risk that, so they took our toys away to make us mad. Meanwhile they got back to work on defense contracting and all the bloodier work of government. Fortunately I live near state forest, which has no park ranger. The sierra club tries to kill mtb wherever it can, but it hasn't been successful on a national scale yet.
  • + 2
 What a disappointment. What a waste of marketing budget. New Mexico is such a wonderful bike destination yet you manage to miss out a ton of its highlights. Not only that you shoot photos in places where you attract negative publicity for yourself and your sponsors. I've seen some poorly researched and executed marketing pieces on PB (the Mavic fiasco in the Chilcotin comes to mind) but this has to be right up there with that effort. Take this criticism and the criticism from the many locals who have given you feedback as a way to improve.
  • + 2
 DISAPPOINTMENT, Only because they got rejected from Mexico. The article and everything they did in New Mexico State were great. Very nice pictures and I would love to go to New Mex to ride one day, but they still got shut down by Mexico. They should not have even mentioned the Mexico rejection, and it would have been a great article. Hollywood Movie idea; "Send mountain bikers into Mexico's north border region with AK's to battle the cartels."
  • + 5
 You went to NM and didn't hit Los Alamos?!
40+miles of incredible technical singletrack; all right out the back door.
  • + 2
 Millions of years to make New Mexico, 30 seconds for someone with a stupid looking helmet to trash it. Gaspi, please don't come back for a visit. But, if you do, STAY ON THE TRAIL!
  • + 5
 I love seeing my home state in Pinkbike! yeah boy.
  • + 1
 Lame euro *ag trashing the place for "adventure". Why not find some of the epic riding areas in NM instead of posing and vandalizing fragile cliffs. If the govt. hadn't been shutdown this bozo would have got a ticket. The gheyist trip I ever saw.
  • + 1
 This is a note rather than any kind of statement from a member of the czech Mountain Biking Crew filming in New Mexico. It seems, that mountain biking will be a always more or less a controversial issue anywhere and anytime. This kind of sport will always do a certain amount of damage and it doesn't matter if it's in the United States or in the heart of Europe. It's just up to every individual to make the level of the tire damage on soil and nature as low as possible. That's why it is very important to approach our environment in a a sensible way, cautiously and respectfully. In spite of some presumptions in this chat, we did not cross any rules, regulations, laws or regulations in New Mexico. In Ghost Ranch, in Red Mesa, in Santa Fe and other places we always asked local authorities before riding. When the answer was ‚no’ or some area was closed or part of a national park, we simply moved to another destination. Believe it or not, we share the same spirit of mountain biking as most of the Pink Bike social network members and we want to keep the our natural heritage intact for upcoming generations same as you do. Thank you for attention and understanding and I hope you will enjoy another part of our photo story, which is due to be out later this week. Adam
  • + 5
 Your statement is BS. I personally ride in many of the places you photographed and know for a fact the that off trail riding IS NOT PERMITTED! I rode White Mesa yesterday which is featured in the first picture and know that off trail riding is not allowed there. The whole White Mesa area is covered with cryptobiotic soil. I single tire track can take many years to heal. So instead of saying it is up to every individual to make the level of the tire damage on soil and nature as low as possible, just stay on the fricken trail and there is nothing to decide! It does matter that this is the desert and not Europe. The damage you might make in a typical place in Europe would be gone in at most a year. In the New Mexico desert, it can take up to 50 years. That is a huge difference.
  • + 0
 looks super fun!!!
Its funny to read some posts here. I can't help but wonder if the same people complain when videos shot in far off places like, Asia, South America, Morocco, Afghanistan, or Mexico? Most of the time the place is "for the first time". Hell rampage is carved out of a previously un-ridden place that now people go back almost every year and dig it out to suit their temporary needs. (privately owned or not its altering landscape). I can think of many video parts and adds that are disrupting natural terrain. The fact is these guys did the best they could with what they found on an unplanned adventure, with the time they had. Some of the posts I see here I will now expect to see posted on at least 50% of videos shown on mtb sites. How many are are on "bootleg" trails? How many adds have someone ripping into virgin landscape just to get one great shot?
  • + 0
 The difference is that they tore up places where we ride in NM. There is not anything wrong with wanting to protect your own backyard. I am sure there are people in Utah and other places that feel the same way. The sad part is that there are so many cool legit trails that the tearing part was completely unwarranted. White Mesa in the second picture is a place I ride at least once a week and there are plenty of on trail photo ops. One of the best trails in the world, South Boundary, wasn't even mentioned. I do think many of us take exception to off trail riding we see on PB. But I don't live where those are filmed, so can't know for sure if those were legit or not. In this case I do and take exception along with others who live here. As you say Rampage is on private land, but I can't really get too upset as it is not my land. However, many of the pictures here are on public land. That means that they were tearing up my land, or more precisely OUR LAND.
  • + 1
 I remember passing these guys on I-10 just east of El Paso in early October. Was wondering when I'd see something about what they were up to!
  • + 0
 It really pisses me off to see riders treating a National Park with such disrespect. The erosion these riders are causing to fragile landscapes will continue to alter them for years to come. Just plain ignorant.
  • + 2
 was i hallucinating when i saw an RV with smoke coming out of the top of it?
  • + 3
 Paráda! Great article! Wink
  • - 1
 Its New Mexico who cares!!! They tested the worst thing known to mankind there at the Trinity site and continue to do the same all throughout the state daily! A few "off trail" here and there or even a shit ton of trails everywhere will only add to the state. There is a reason Mississippi is not in last place anymore as a state. I believe before the 20th century it was a amazing place but then again maybe.

They care so much about their precious dirt but just drive around ANY NM city and all you will see is 4x4 "off trail" roads, trash, gun shells f*cking everywhere and I mean everywhere but don't enjoy whats out there unless we say so. LOL, what a joke for a state that has done nothing but do what it wants and filled with rebels, outlaws and criminals since its conception start worrying about its mtn biking off trail instead of its lack of education and jobs and future.

A million bikes could trodding the state and it would not compare to anything that has happened and goes on in that state on a daily basis towards the destruction and death of man kind and the planet. If you think otherwise your living in a bubble or your the ones working for them...

Regulaters!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Mount up Smile Were in spirit world a*shole....
  • + 2
 Well said dude! I saw the same sh it in AZ so I can imagine NM, it was pretty said see so much trash, gun shells, torne cars with million bullet holes in beautiful places where Apaches used to live far from poppulated areas. I don't get the guys whining about few tracks made by one bike. More over the project ZAM is about exploring the unseen and NM was not in plan anyway, so shut up and rather go to support your local environment by collecting your trash that your people left behind.
  • + 0
 "Flat tire again! Every morning began with a coffee break at the gas station and the changing of tubes. In New Mexico there are thorns on every trail." Ghetto tubeless, as always, is the answer Wink
  • + 6
 Tubes in NM?
As worthless as tits on a boar.
  • + 1
 Wow! This is such a disappointment.
  • + 1
 was that the tail end of a white Delorean in the pic of the old cars?
  • + 1
 This...looks...amazing...
  • + 2
 Angel Peak, haha....
  • + 1
 Those pics would make a great 2014 wall calendar!
  • + 2
 Retards on bikes. Next time stay on the trail.
  • + 1
 AWESOME, GASPI!!
  • + 1
 cool custom lid.
  • + 1
 What is this helmet?
  • + 0
 The riding must suck in New Mexico.
  • - 1
 Suck. Just what we dont need here. next time just get a room in ABQ and drive to colorado in the morning..

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