A state lawmaker is cycling from her hometown of Las Cruces to the Roundhouse in Santa Fe for the upcoming legislative session.
For the second year in a row, state Rep. Angelica Rubio, D-Las Cruces, has opted not to drive a car but instead make a 413-mile trek to the state capital on her Salsa Journey Man bicycle.
For a week, she will ride up the hills and peaks of New Mexico’s rugged landscape, braving harsh weather, ranging from sun to rain, to snow and wind.
Rubio departed from Las Cruces Saturday, making stops in Alamogordo and Ruidoso. She arrived in Roswell Monday night. Rubio will get to Vaughn Tuesday evening before peddling north to Clines Corners on her way to reaching Santa Fe Saturday. The 30-day legislative session begins Jan. 21.
A native of Lake Arthur and avid cyclists, Rubio said Tuesday she was inspired last year to make the pilgrimage via bicycle after a friend told her that he felt disconnected from the state’s government and the decision-making that happens in Santa Fe.
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“And so being from the second-largest city in the state, I recognized, well, maybe we need to do something about that,” Rubio said.
By riding her bicycle, Rubio said that she can play a part in bridging the gap between state government and the people they represent, by educating them about what the Legislature does and answering their questions.
Unlike last year, she does not have too many organized events, though she attended a meeting of the Kiwanis Club Tuesday in Roswell and has a meeting scheduled with the mayor of Vaughn Wednesday evening.
During her stops, Rubio said she hears from people on issues ranging from concerns about the solvency of state pensions to the need to diversify New Mexico’s economy.
The ride, she said, has served to not only reaffirm her faith in New Mexico and allow her to travel long distances that she never thought possible, but takes her out of her district to see more of the state she loves and to meet a variety of people.
She said the people she meets along the way are supportive, including Republicans.
Rubio said when she did hold events on her trip last year, many of them were in communities represented by Republicans.
“And some of my best town halls were in the most conservative parts of the state,” Rubio said.
Her colleague state Rep. Greg Nibert, R-Roswell, said that when Rubio announced last year she had traveled by bike to Santa Fe, her colleagues were impressed. He said that in the state’s earliest years, lawmakers traveled up to Santa Fe not by car but on horseback.
The trip, Nibert said, offers Rubio insights into New Mexico, that most legislators who travel by car don’t have anymore.
“So having someone who is basically going through the community at a much slower pace and is actually observing the community for what it is, and not just zips by, is very impressive,” he said.
When asked whether she plans to ride by bike to Santa Fe for the next legislative session, Rubio said that she probably will.
“I think every year I want to be inspired to ride to different parts of the state, because I just think it’s worth visiting and seeing what the rest of the state — what we have and not just sticking to our own little corner of our own little district,” Rubio said.
People can follow Rubio’s journey by visiting https://rubiosride.com/.
Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.