Monday, January 19, 2009

Riding SoCal Style - Santa Rosa Mountain

Last week I was in southern California on business. While my family was freezing in single digit weather in Cleveland I was basking in all of the glorious sunshine that California had to offer.
I took advantage of this rare opportunity and extended my stay through the weekend so I could spend a couple days on a bike.

On the first day I chose to ride in the Palm Springs area because it was the only place I could find a bike shop that would rent me a quality bike. Tri-a-bike rents high quality bikes at bargain prices. Everyone who works there was knowledgeable and friendly. The bike was maintained to high quality standards, and the staff was very helpful in describing how to get to the local trails. It was truly a great place to spend my money. I highly recommend Tri-a-bike if you want to spend some time in the SoCal desert trails.

Upon arrival at the bike shop it was a warm 85 degrees. I would later drive to the start of the ride at 4200 ft where the temperature was a little more tolerable in the high 60's.

The first trail I rode wasn't really a trail, it was a dirt road that I read about on, a good resource for trails in the Palm Springs area, called Santa Rosa Mountain road. I really wanted to take it easy on this day, so I chose this ride so I could test my endurance without having to worry about any technical manuevers or injuries. There was nothing technical on this ride, just a long steady climb.

This is the start of the rode off highway 74 south of Palm Desert and just past Pinyon Pines in the San Bernardino National Forest. It was displayed on my Garmin and Google Maps as the "Santa Rosa Truck Trail." Start elevation was about 4600 ft.

The good news about riding a real road is its easy to mark the route on Google maps like I have done here.

The following pictures were taken every time I stopped for a rest. I paced my ride so that I rode for 15 minutes, then stopped for 5 minutes. The dirt you see in the picture above is not single track, but is the full 12 ft wide road below.

There were spectacular views in every direction.

Between the second and third stop there was a small amount of downhill relief which can be seen in the picture above. By the time I had stopped for the third time I was running a little low on water and I was wishing I had brought my camelbak instead of a lowly 24oz water bottle. It was also getting quite cooler at about 5600 ft according to my garmin.

Who says it has to be single track to be fun?!? Once I started going down the mountain curves like this provided many thrills.

The top two pictures were taken fairly close together on the road. It seemed as if at one moment I was still in the desert worried if I would have enough water to go much higher, then the next moment I was riding on ice.

This point at 6200 ft where I had to stop since the road was completly covered in ice. I had a hard time walking to this point to take a picture, there was no way I could walk up this hill, let alone try to ride up. Elevation here was 6200 ft. Total elevation gain for the day was 1600 ft + 100 ft of the small downhill run for a total climb of 1700 ft. in a little over an hour. I was proud that I made it this far, but I felt I could have done a little more had it not been for the ice. This road was a good test of my endurance.

It amazes me how quickly the scenery changes in this part of the country. Where I come from you don't see snow like this just 1/2 mile away from a cactus.

I didn't stop to take pictures on my way down, I was too busy going very fast....

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