Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Many of you are from out of town/state/country, while many of you are from just around the corner. The binder for the majority is that you all seem to travel a great deal. Be it for work, family, or play, everyone seems to know SOMEWHERE great to ride. I have a great little "somewhere" to share that is just not really thought of among the great cycling destinations...but it should be.....Palm Springs.

Tucked up against the eastern slope of stratosphere-scraping San Jacinto Peak (10,804' of elevation) lies the mobster Mecca of Palm Springs. Home to Frank Sinatra, Bob "Knock Out the Knocks" Hope, and the former gangster numbers joint that just so happened to front as a restaurant called "Dominick's" on Palm Canyon Highway. This Sonoran Desert hot-spot is a road and mountain bikers dream destination. Don't believe me? Former U.S. Olympic bronze medalist and FIVE TIME NORBA National Champion Susan DeMattei used to spend hour upon hour hammering through the many desert pinnacles, like town favorite Murray Peak. That trail network actually takes you along the back fence-line overlooking Bob Hope's pool, which always made for scary glances from his security detail while he was still alive. The only way to escape the heat of the desert floor (temps often in excess of 120 degrees) is to leave before dawn and climb until the temperature drops....or you do. It's a whole lot cooler at nine thousand feet than it is at two.

If you are nice, and have cash..you can ask NICELY for one of the Tribal Police in the Tahquitz Canyon Reservation to drive you to the top of the mountain and drop you off. It's a solid three hours of descending that will barely leave you able to devour a plate of carnitas and frijoles. While there, be sure to escape to the desert oasis at Tahquitz Canyon, one of the most amazing places in the middle of "nowhere." You may also want to drive out after the ride and take the what was once considered the Eighth Wonder Of The World to the top of the mountain. The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway was built almost entirely by helicopter..a first. Dreamt up in 1935 by Francis Crocker, this monument to engineering was finally completed in 1961. The bond measures to pay for it (NO TAX DOLLARS!) didn't get paid off until 1996! It's always cool at the top no matter how hot the valley floor is...because the top of the Tram sits at 8,516 feet. The views will never leave you.

Palm Springs sits at the gateway to what was once known as "Nova Albion." Spanish Explorer Juan Bautista de Anza created the route from New Mexico to California, and it passed through the narrow gap in the mountains where Palm Springs sits. Interstate 10 practically was laid right over the top of his footpath. From the ten freeway, however, you can get to a KILLER road ride. Heading out away from Palm Springs and toward Joshua Tree National Monument is Pappy and Harriet's Pioneertown. In 1946, Pioneertown was founded by a group of Hollywood investors with dreams of creating a living movie set -- an 1870's frontier town with facades for filming and interiors open to the public. Now it's a great watering hole for desert folks on horseback, Harley or bicycle. Start your 100 mile road bike Odyssey here, and head down to Palm Highway. Head out to the main entrance of Joshua Tree NM and prepare for what seems like a 25 mile climb to the top of the park. Start VERY early, and go in March when it still will be cold in the wee hours. What's the nice thing about climbing for 25 miles? Well...if you stay on the only road through the park until it ends, you exit the place on a 25 mile descent. If you have the Huevos Rancheros, bikes can top out at 70mph or more on this colossal drop back to the old desert floor. weaving back through the neighborhoods lends its self to amazing vistas, so don't be in a hurry...and wear sunscreen.

You can fly right in to Palm Springs, or land in Ontario Int'l Airport and rent a car..it's a short drive. Stay a few days and ride until you can't move. Then what? Well...you come back looking like an E-Z Bake Oven's 25 watt glow jumped you in the alley and revel in the time spent on the bike when you could have been shoveling white stuff....

Wow..sorry..ex-King Of The Mountains' Michael Rasmussen perfectly illustrates my point, but I still shudder...I'm just sayin'.


At 5:40 PM, Blogger Vegas said...

Your cactus is turning funny colors, you might wanna have that looked at.


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