Sunday, November 8, 2015

Wednesday Palm Springs Epic Epic

I'm a little behind... so back to last Wednesday I go because THAT was a bike ride.

Carl and I drove out to Palm Desert early Weds morning with the plan of doing some exploring as we didn't have a good map of the area, and the last time I rode Palm Canyon trail was 4 years ago.
The sky was amazing on the drive, especially looking up at Mt. San Jacinto where heavy dark clouds were gathering over the peak and it was clearly snowing/raining something ugly. I was tempted to ask Carl if he had checked the weather for our ride, but bit my tongue and hoped for a dry day.

We started by riding up Art Smith, a pretty techy trail, which climbs for 10 miles through sandy washes, rocky rock problems, and tight complicated switchbacks. I didn't remember it being so long, and about halfway up Carl was cursing the name of Art Smith, haha! We had already climbed 2,000ft in an hour when we reached Dunn Road and the 'you gotta have a pic with this tractor' tractor.
I may need new gloves...
This road was like riding bikes on the beach, SANDY!
Next we climbed 2,000 more feet to the top of Dunn rd, which was WAY steeper, and sandier than I remembered! I am sure Carl was cursing whoever built that road too, but I may have ridden away from him on account of only having one speed. The clouds ahead of us were incredible, and to the right, out towards San Jacinto, they were still crazy scary looking.

At the top the temp dropped pretty significantly, and we got a bit lost in the 'neighborhood' looking for a trail I couldn't quite remember from 4 years back. We eventually decided to head all the way out to Hwy 74 and pedal the pavement up to the trailhead shuttlers use to ride just the Palm Canyon descent (which many people call epic on it's own). Thankfully, despite our lack of route planning and preparation, we had both MTB Project and Strava to figure out how to get where we wanted to go. Usually Carl and I are really good at planning ahead, knowing where we are going... but it was kinda my turn to play tour guide, and I was a little too tired from the Nosco ride on Tuesday to do my job previewing the route online the night before... oops.
The Palm Canyon descent wasn't nearly as good as I remembered it being, but the amazing scenery made up for the SANDY, kinda crappy trail. At one point we were just in this canyon, on the sandy floor of a wash FOREVER!!! AND THEN FOR FUN you have to ride 3 miles up a sand road!!! It was pretty traumatic, but we persevered because what else are you going to do when you're out in the middle of nowhere. The only good news is that I did not kick a cactus, and it didn't rain on us.  I'm pretty sure Palm Canyon trail should be renamed Kick/Punch a Cactus because they put cactus on the inside of every fun turn, and they are ALL OVER at foot level as well. Carl did some pretty amazing evasive riding to avoid cactus limb contact, including a lot of skidding/whipping his rear wheel through turns.
Before the 3 mile sand road of death I took a little sit on your butt break, ahhh tour mode :)
By the time we returned to the tractor/top of Art Smith/top of the 3 mile road of death, there wasn't quite enough day light to add in the Haan Buena trail (one I rode last year and remember being incredible). So, we used some self control and headed back to the car via Art Smith. Somehow Art Smith seemed like it was uphill most the way back, and although I had promised Carl he would be praising Art's name on the return trip we were both a little peeved at the guy for a while. Then it finally descended enough that we didn't need to pedal and we dipped and wove through the flowy turns and over the techy rocks, glggling with joy. At one point I did crash really hard trying to clean a really tight, rocky switchback behind Carl, and landed on my shin on a rock off the cliff-y side of the turn, but the bike was ok, so no stoke was lost. Thank goodness Art Smith ends with one of the most fun sections of trail around because I got to the car smiling and completely stoked on Palm Desert!
Carl riding to the Haan Buena overlook. It was pretty tempting to just ride Haan Buena, but maybe it will be motivation to return to Palm Springs to ride again this winter. 

I realize now after re-reading this recap that it sounds like this ride wasn't very much fun, and I'll admit, it wasn't quite as good as some of our other Weds adventures. We expected it to be a little less dry because it rained on Monday, and my memory of Palm Canyon did not match up with reality very well. I did very much enjoy the climbing, even the Dry Wash death road, and the sky/rocks pretty much saved the day with their beauty. I'm not sure I would recommend that anyone drive all the way out to Palm Desert to do this ride, but it was a pretty fun place to ride that was very much out of the ordinary!
This week I start more structured training so who knows if these amazing Wednesday adventures will continue. I have been loving the flexibility to substitute teach, train, work on sponsorships, nap and take care of house work, but I'm seriously excited to do some real taining again! 

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