I wanted to title this post: “Palm Spring Epic = Epic Fail”… but that really wouldn’t be fair to the trail.
Crack of dawn, 5 of us headed up for the ride; 2 of the guys were new to me, 3 of us had done the route plenty of times before. The ride is billed as 28 miles of mountain biking mostly downhill, somewhat technical single track from the mountains above Palm Springs to town. No bail outs until mile 20, so bring the gear and water/food you need.
The drive up was gorgeous, Southern California is so green right now.. and seeing the sun rise over the hills is magical. I was anticipating a great day on the bike.
Us ladies got dropped off at the top of the hill, since it’s a shuttle ride. Eh… waiting in the cold for 1.5hrs+ (after already being in the car for 1.5hrs) isn’t necessarily my description of a good time… but my girlfriend and I were able to catch up, as I’m sure the guys were in the cars.
At about 10am, we were off. The trail at the beginning was skinny single track with sharp drop offs on the right… cactus on the left….
At 3.6 miles, one of the guys gets a flat… and then promptly our best rider rolls feet over head several times into a ditch. After patching everything together (physically and mentally) – we head out again.
Finally, we made it down into the wash and were surprised that most of the trail had been swept away by the spring storms; there was the occasional hunting for the trail. At this point we had befriended 2 other riders which we would meet on and off for the rest of the ride. (I always like meeting new people!)
The reason for the ride and why I got excited to do the route was this year’s Super Bloom. After all the rains that we’ve had – I knew that the desert would be colorful. It was beautiful. There were flowers that I’d never seen and their colors were all rich.
After my high of flower and color intake, came a long sandy climb. 3 miles of sandy uphill… I could see how it could be a lot worse… but in the 95 degree heat – it sucked.
Near the top, all of us were trying to keep a brave face on, eat, push the fluids and keep upbeat. But you could tell… we were all hanging on with our fingernails.
And then we got lost.
Apparently, in the past, there was only 1 trail on the way out. Now there were choices… and we made the wrong choice. Tried, out of water and starting to get loopy… our trail choice took us up, down, up, down through some technical switchbacks and steep drops. I tend to make mistakes when I’m tired… and I was easily seeing a broken arm or worse; I’ll admit – I hoofed it during those sections.
Honestly, I don’t remember the last 5 miles of the ride, as it was “each switchback will get you one step closer to the car”.
End result: 6+hrs on the trail. 90+degrees for the 2nd half of the ride. Beautiful blooms. More technical than my body wanted for the day.
What would I suggest to make it better?
- A small group with similar (really good) technical abilities.
- Get on the the road as early as possible to avoid the heat or have someone drop you off at the top.
- Bring a proper GPS and don’t rely on memory to get you out.
Would I do it again? Maybe. I haven’t ruled it out… but I won’t even think about it until next spring.