Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Riding in the Desert
We are here for a week, so I figured to get in some rides. Rummaging around on bikely.com, I found a 60 mile loop by a jckramer. I've met him. Went back later, and that entry was gone, but there was a similar one. Remapped it in bike route toaster, so I'd get a cue sheet. More on that later. Packed Sweetpea, but left the fenders at home. Yes, Sweetpea will get a sunburn. Little Pink Bear forgot to hop in the bike case. Guess I'd have to talk to myself. So here is the route, more or less: http://www.bikely.com/maps/bike-path/Palm-Springs-60-mi-loop. I did modify it slightly at the end. Got on the road about 9am. Made sure I had a couple snacks, and two full bottles of water/NUUN. And sunscreen. The route headed north past an extensive wind farm. They weren't turning, so maybe I was safe. Through some annoying road construction, and gently up to turn right on Pierson heading through Desert Hot Springs. I did pause at a 7-11. They did not have a restroom for customers. Except... "are you on a bicycle?" Nice. Bought and consumed a Gatorade, removed the arm (long since shoved down to my wrists) and knee warmers, applied sunscreen, went to put on some lip glop... Went back into the store and bought a Chapstick. Now heading SE, down Hacienda Rd. It was supposed to turn into Bennett, but never did. Still dumped me onto Dillon, which was where I needed to be, but sooner than the cue sheet indicated. According to my AAA road map, there is no Bennett Rd, so I did not miss anything. Careful viewing of the satellite images reveals that there might be a DIRT road there, but I didn't see it intersect with Hacienda. Gentle climbing again, about 2%. With a slight headwind. I kept pushing myself to keep it above 12mph, with varying success. Starting to get much less populated, and, past Sky Valley, nothing but desert and scrub. The bike computer indicated that I should have found Thousand Palms Canyon Rd by now, but nothing. Pulled out my phone and tried Google Maps (cheating, I know), but it couldn't connect. I had signal and all, but no maps. The AAA map had stuck a big street index right over that whole area. Ok then. I'd go for another mile or so and see if I ran into it. I couldn't see any road, but I did see three cars turning into what looked no different than the surrounding scrub. And there it was. This was a very fun descent. Eventually I found the thousand palms (in the canyon, naturally) in the Coachella Valley Nature Preserve. Then 5 or so more miles and I was back in civilization. Indian Wells, to be precise. Their roads are paved with the nicest asphalt and mostly have wide outer lanes, which, for me, is heaven. There was a stretch of shopping districts that eventually took me to CA-111, where I'd spend the next 16 miles. It started out with a really nice buffered bike lane. And, finally, a tailwind. I was thinking this could be really nice. Not so much. The next town along, Palm Desert, didn't believe in such niceties as shoulders or bike lanes. The road varied from 2-3 lanes in each direction, so you'd think there would be enough room for everyone. Mostly, but it was cozier than I would have liked. Many parking lot entries, and more traffic lights than SW Beaverton Hillsdale, all of them red. But yet, there was that tailwind. Rancho Mirage wasn't much better, and I kept looking at my odometer muttering "5 more miles...". Fitz called while I was passing through Crystal City; we figured we'd get back about the same time. The route had me continuing on Business CA-111. I should have taken the right to stay on CA-111; I could have gotten back from there as well. Eventually got onto the Palm Springs bike path system. I don't like them. They are meant for riders pootling along on cruiser bikes. They meander. They cross driveways. It is not clear who has right of way at intersections. I stopped and looked; didn't want to get run over by a right-turning motorist. I couldn't stand it any longer,and turned onto Tahquitz Way; on street bike lanes. By now I was just about finished. Turning into the parking lot, I spied a familiar person unloading his golf clubs. Perfect timing! On that bike route toaster comment - it appears to get its rights and lefts mixed up from time to time. Plus it throws in a "take the first..." when the turn is not the first left or right. Insert control points, rather than a track point at each turn, or they won't appear on the cue sheet. Takeaway - proofread the cue sheet!