Hmmm…he’s obviously not ridden a 29er yet – or maybe he just doesn’t know Frieda!
T’was an amazing 4 day ride – where to begin? It was raining here in the mtns all day Friday and into Saturday. I put off my start just a little to let the rain subside. It would still be a chilly start screaming down the mountain, but I had to get this thing going.I got Frieda all decked out and ready to go. No, the spot didn’t stay there long!
I started out heading up and over May Valley to hit a few tasty Idyllwild trails on the way out. The first singletrack I got on, I startled a skunk off the trail. His butt then startled me and I got on the horsepower. What a close call! Then I headed down toward Hurkey Creek, then out through Garner Valley – hitting a little moisture throughout the mountain.I then took the highway out past the Santa Rosa Mountain and down to Palm Desert.Stopping at the viewpoint to thaw out and take another Frieda glamour shot.
I stopped at a gas station and loaded up on some goods for the night then heading out Hwy 111. Remember the German Sheppards from my last Joshua tree ride? Well, I was ready for them this time. I got in my big ring anticipating their approach, but was let down when I saw their gate was closed. Well, one of them wasn’t going to let this deter him. Just when I decided that they weren’t out to play, he came out full speed and slithered under the closed gate. It was again a good little sprint – just as unexpected as last time.
I dropped down to Mecca (200 feet below sea level) before heading up Box Canyon towards Joshua Tree. Since I left so late, the sun was setting in Box Canyon. This sure made me hit that road pretty hard. I was bound to make it to Joshua Tree my first night. This put me at about 100 miles with 4700 feet of climbing. Good first day, but it wasn’t conducive to a good nights sleep. Oh, and that skunk, it turns out I didn’t come off unscathed. I kept smelling a little skunk when I’d stop. I discovered at camp that my rear wheel got a little spray – better that than me! Hmmm…who’s this guy?
I woke up my 2nd day and hit the road in Joshua tree around 8am. (later than I would have liked, but I had to get in some real sleep.) Sunday was a little rough – I realized that I need more than 6.5 hrs of sleep after riding 100 miles and that coffee would help that! It was somewhat slow going through Joshua tree, but I screamed down into 29 palms. It was good reassurance to ride through 29 palms since they have a 29er tire store – I didn’t realize Dunlop made 29er tires and where’s your Kendas? 🙂I ended up only getting in about 80 miles for the day and camping at the Black Rock Canyon Camprgound on the Northwest side of the park. I was hoping to head up to Pioneer Town, but asked at the outdoor store and they told me there was no camping near there. That’s o.k. it put me into the campsite really early and enabled me to get in 10 hrs of sleep! I can’t remember the last time I got 10 hrs of sleep. Then I woke up to a beautiful sunrise at J-tree, again, and got an early start. I stopped at “The Jelly Donut” for one last grab at calories before beginning the climb up San Gorgonio. An older gentleman (think yucca valley + jelley donut when I say older) and his wife asked me where I started and where I was headed. When I filled them in on the ride and informed her that “yes, I was riding all by myself” he told me that I’d never get up burns canyon on “that” thing. I have learned time and time again to graciously say thanks and then try to imagine the person giving the advice actually riding a mountain bike. That eased my concern a little, but I was still concerned. He said that it was all washed out from erosion because of the 2006 fire. I decided to forge on, but had a little more urgency about it knowing that it could be a long day.
I headed up to pioneertown, which was a steep, but quick climb to this old movie set town. I was passed by 3 dualsports as I was leaving town and heading up into Burns Canyon. This gave me a little reassurance that the canyon would be doable. The canyon was slightly populated with many cool houses and trailers to include this storage container house and cool silver travel trailer.
From there, it was up and up and up to about 7500 feet and over this behemoth. It was a relief to finally crest the mountain and see all the lakes. I came out at Baldwin lake and headed into town to get a little bikework and lunch. I stopped in at Bear Valley Bikes where Derek trued my wheels and gave my bike a little tlc while I went down the street for Mexican food.
I then headed up some tasty singletrack to get to the top of Clarks Grade. Beautiful view from the top!
Screaming down Clarks Grade was a great way to end the day. This was my fastest section in a couple days and was much appreciated. The view on the way down was amazing
I ended up at Seven Oaks Campground for the night and it was an awesome place to stay. I had the place to myself, with the exception of a messy bear.
Oh, and Brendan joined me when I called him and told him what a beautiful place it was down on the Santa Ana River. And, the dogs dug being outside and playing in the water a little.
When Brendan and the dogs took off, I headed out toward the Santa Ana River Trail. I actually took a little longer way to get there so I could get in more singletrack – the Santa Ana River trail is some of the best singletrack I’ve ridden in SoCal!
After getting in about 10 miles of the Santa Ana River Trail, I stopped at Angeles Oaks, filled up on water then found the old hwy 38 trailhead. Yeah, highway trailhead. This old route up to Angeles Oaks has been taken over by bikers and hikers and foliage. It was a beautiful ride down with creek crossings and a hike-a-bike and wasn’t the highway. I dropped out on hwy 38 near Yucaipa and screamed the rest of the way down. From Yucaipa, I hooked into Wildwood Canyon, a beautiful road, but a 7 mile climb up to Oak Glen and Cherry Valley. This was the “less hilly route” I’d been told. But it climbed up from about 2600ft to 4800 ft. Glad I took the less hilly route. From Oak Glen, I screamed down through Cherry Valley to Beaumont – yeah it’s an exit you’ve probably seen on the interstate. Then I rode about 6 miles on a road paralleling the interstate, to reach Banning CA. It felt pretty close to home here since it’s the exit to get to Idyllwild. The only problem was that I still had to climb some crazy mountains and it was early afternoon. I had to get from 2500 to 5500 feet and there would be some super fun downhills between too! I started up the old Idyllwild-Banning road. This old grade was built in 1910 and then replaced by the current road in 1950. The view of Banning starting out on the old road.
I came out at Poppet flats near the Silent Valley RV Park – where the fire trapped people last year. I then rode up the highway a little ways to Vista Grande ranger station. I then dropped down behind the ranger station on control roads that hooked to more control roads that took me back down to 2700 feet only to begin my climb to Pine Cove. The sun was setting and there were a few small storms throughout the mountains. This, with my combined fear of mountain lions in this lovely area gave me a little energy to hit that final climb pretty fast. When I started the day I wasn’t planning on taking this route, but wanted to get in as many miles as possible. In the end, I ended up calling Brendan around 930 and having him meet up with me just down from Pine Cove. He told me when I started that if I had already climbed 20k feet on my trip (which I’m sure I’d more than done by this point) that he would come pick me up. I felt I’d put in a hard 4 days already and just wanted some hot soup and a soft bed. Looks like the new haircut worked alright for 4 showerless days!