Descender Solo Ride to Palm Springs-Ride Report

Hi Guys,

We planned a family trip to Palm Springs over Memorial Day weekend.  A group of four families rented a large casita filled compound surrounding a pool, just north of downtown Palm Springs.  A golf outing, the water park, hiking/running and shopping were some of the planned events.  I asked when I could ride my bike and Serena suggested I ride there.  Wow–what a great idea.  I had never ridden to Palm Springs but knew Mike Hodges would be a wealth of information and knowledge.  I tired to get Mike or others to join me in the planned ride.  Mike was very good about sharing his riding experiences.  He specifically suggested I start early in the day.  It looked like I would be riding solo.

I packed the car the night before and rose early to prepare for my ride.  The weather looked cold, grey and misty so I opted to wait a bit for it to clear up–it didn’t.  I took off about 8 am with food and water on my back, plenty of clothes and my phone in case I needed car support from Serena when she drove to Palm Springs later in the day.  It was wet, misty and very foggy going up the Poway Grade towards Old Julian Road.  I did see one rider in a Ranchos kit near the top of Old Julian, he was heading back toward Ramona.  The fog thickened and the misty rain increased on my way towards Santa Ysabel.  After 37 miles of wet riding I stopped in the grocery store for a bite to eat and pondered my options.  I called Serena to give her an update and then pedaled north on highway 79 in terrible conditions, now the winds were picking up along with the rain and fog.  

Things started to clear a bit at the intersection of S2.  It was windy and a bit warmer heading into Warner Springs.  I was soaked but chugging along.  About mile 60 I rolled past a large snake some 3 feet out into the road.  I stopped and attempted to use my bike to coax the snake back off the road.  One car stopped to take a photo and the snake leaped at my wheels a number of times before he egressed to the edge of the road.  One snake saved from a car tire, at least for a little longer.  The winds howled and the fog thickened again when I stopped for a photo at the Warner Springs sign just north of the small glider port.  I continued on, now almost at the point of now return.  The sun broke through and I increased my pace knowing the intersection of 371 in Aguanga lay shortly ahead.  I took another break at the corner having now completed 72 mile of riding and what I thought was the toughest part of the ride behind me.  Mike said the climb up 371 was not bad so I thought I was ready, I wasn’t.

The climb up 371 sapped me of remaining energy in my legs and I got a few cramps.  I uttered expletives under my weak breath about Mike and tried to look for the top of the hill, it kept going.  After about an hour of suffering I stopped at a market in the Anza Valley in bad need of some nourishment and new legs.  I warmed up and drank my chocolate milk and coke combo.  It was a much needed rest.  The 20 miles across highway 371 were a test for me.  Fortunately the winds that had hit me earlier were now mostly helping push me along my ride.  The last three miles were a beautiful climb into wooded forest and then highway 74 miraculously appeared.  I was 92 miles done and knew that I had a long, mostly downhill approach to Palm Desert ahead of me.  Things were looking up or so I thought.

I really enjoyed the roads through the forest and the descents made for a quick pace.  Traffic had been pretty light all day so no real car issues.  The big problem were the winds.  They kept increasing in speed with gust blowing 30+ mph, maybe higher.  I stopped at a lookout before the steep curvy section of highway 74.  The wind was howling and I was nervous.  I stayed out closer to the middle of the road and stopped numerous times to let cars go by.  I had to go slow as the winds kept blowing me around on the road.  I was a bit scared but had no option, I had to get to the desert floor.  The steep and winding roads dropped me into Palm Desert at about mile 115 of the ride.  I got down to Highway 111 and turned into the wind for the last 18 miles to our place in Palm Springs.

My adventure covered 132.9 miles in 8:29.41.  It took me over 10.5 hours to get there including all the stops.  The only real scary section was the descent on highway 74 due to the winds.  I could envision a Descenders trip to Palm Springs someday as long as we had 1-2 drivers willing to take cars there.  The weekend was a fun family trip with many activities.  I did get in a run and hike with Serena.  I also rode to and then up the the Aerial Tramway on Monday.  It was a short 4 mile climb but any delusions of Tramway Repeats were quickly cleared from my head.  Up and down once and back to the house was enough.  

My Garmin is going back to the manufacturer today.  It records the rides but they can not be downloaded.  I did a manual upload into Strava.  I will get a replacement Edge 705 soon.  Attached are a couple of photos from my rides to and around Palm Springs.

ride on-



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