In Temecula: the Sage loop - Looking Back With 2020 Vision, Part I - CycleBlaze

December 30, 2019

In Temecula: the Sage loop

Today’s ride feels like a gift.  When we first arrived in Temecula, this day was forecast as wet, windy, and cold.  We extended our stay here another day, planning to sit the rainy day out and go see a film.  Since then though the forecast has steadily improved; and by the time this morning rolls around the threat of rain has evaporated.  The cold and windy part is still with us, but the day is definitely rideable.  We pack up (we’re moving to another motel for our last night here), bundle up, and bike off into a chilly, overcast day as soon as it feels warm enough to be bearable.

We’re heading east today, to a low summit at the first ridge lining the east side of the valley.  It’s nearly an out and back - after twenty miles we’ll turn back, backtrack for six miles and then branch off to a different route back into town just for variety.   Just enough of an out and back character so that Rachael can speed on ahead when I stop for photos and pick me up on her way return.

Our route takes us east on Rancho California Road, the same one that we rode west into the hills on our first day ride from here.  Westbound, it starts climbing immediately as the town is jammed by the mountains in this direction; but it’s a different story going east, as the broad valley gently tilts upward for about fifteen miles before coming to the first real hills.  The city takes full but poor advantage of this wide, tilted basin, covering it with about a four mile deep belt of sprawling, widely spaced ranch houses in an endless array of culs-de-sac.  It’s a shame, because they’ve buried what must be the most fertile ground they’ve got under this blanket of lawns and concrete.

At least it’s easy enough to bike across, as Rancho California has a reasonably comfortable bike lane through to the eastern edge of town.  Looking ahead to the horizon, there’s the enticement of the distant hills urging us forward to more interesting terrain.

About a mile into the ride our route climbs a small hill and overpass, giving us a good vantage point for viewing those hills and the mountains beyond them.  I’m surprised that the visibility is so good, given the overcast skies.  I cross the road to take a photo, Rachael sees the chance to make her break, and she’s gone.  We won’t reconnect for another two hours.

Looking north across Temecula’s I’ll-conceived sprawl to San Gorgonio Mountain and the mountains around Big Bear Lake.
Heart 2 Comment 0
And she’s gone, in such a blur that the camera can’t focus on her.
Heart 1 Comment 0
I’m stopped anyway, so I might as well cross over the overpass for a look to the south. That deep gap is Rainbow Valley, the route we biked up at the start of yesterday’s ride.
Heart 1 Comment 0
Might as well look ahead to the direction we’re heading also, as long as we’ve got a decent viewpoint.
Heart 2 Comment 0

A few blocks later I drop off this small hill into a strong, cold headwind, and experience the first consequential racing heartbeat episode I’ve had in over a month.  They’re so odd, arising in the unlikeliest conditions.  I’m just coasting, not exerting myself at all when I realize I don’t feel right.  I stop and lie down on the grass beneath the palms and wait it out for a few minutes before biking on.

Might as well take a photo at this spot, as long as I’m stopped for a few minutes. The bole of this palm tree looks like a fraying coaxial cable.
Heart 3 Comment 0

Back in the saddle, I continue eastward through the ranch houses.  Finally, five miles into the ride, I cross Butterfield Road and it all changes.  I leave the town behind as a large roadside sign welcomes me to Temecula Wine Country.  For the next few miles I bike past one vast rolling vineyard after another with stylish faux-Tuscan estates rising out of them, their long poplar or palm-lined access roads sporting billboards advertising wine tasting, balloon rides, lodging, or destination wedding venues.  

Heading east on Rancho California Road, lured on by the San Bernardino Mountains.
Heart 1 Comment 0
In Temecula Wine Country.
Heart 1 Comment 0
And still in it. We’ll be here for awhile.
Heart 1 Comment 0
It’s not just wine country. Here we have a grapefruit orchard, backdropped by the San Bernardino Mountains.
Heart 2 Comment 0
Winter grapefruit!
Heart 5 Comment 0
And more vineyards, and an elegant wine hotel.
Heart 3 Comment 0
Five miles later, we’re coming to the eastern edge of Temecula Wine Country.
Heart 1 Comment 0

So this continues for about five miles.  Actually, it’s very pretty and fine riding.  The road is safe and smooth, the rows of vineyards and the white fences are attractive.  I’m just sorry it’s not a sunny day so the lighting is better.  This would really be a spectacular ride on a bit fairer day.

And then, abruptly, this transitions too and I’m riding through range land and boulder strewn fields.  It looks a bit odd, these enormous stones standing isolated or in small clusters in plowed fields or scrubland.  It’s really quite beautiful, and I’d enjoy it more if I weren’t still feeling the effects from my episode.  I’m really traveling pretty slowly and I’m sure that between this and my photo stops I’m well behind Rachael.  

These are everywhere you look, some as large as small houses.
Heart 3 Comment 0
I’ve got their attention, and they’re slowly moving my way. They eventually conclude that I didn’t come bearing apples and turn their attention elsewhere.
Heart 2 Comment 0

At noon, as agreed, we contact each other by phone to establish where each other is.  She’s about five miles ahead of me, just approaching the turn back point of the route.  I’m surprised she’s not further ahead of me actually, but with the cold headwind we’re biking into she’s been moving pretty slowly herself.   

I bike on, and a few miles later I see her coasting down the road ahead of me.    By chance, we cross paths precisely beside a small roadside bench.  Obviously it’s time to sit a spell and break out the peanut butter sandwiches.

A nice enough spot for lunch.
Heart 1 Comment 0

As we eat, Rachael pulls out her phone and shows me the photos she took at the turn back point.  It’s as I’d hoped this ride would be - the road drops steeply off the other side and opens up an expansive view of the mountains to the east.  It pains me to see what I’ve missed; and as I’m eating I realize that the last of my lingering symptoms finally cease and I feel perfectly normal again.

Hmm - I wonder if nutrition is a factor here?  Maybe I should try eating something the next time this occurs?  Peanut butter, that magical elixir - it’s good for what ails you.

The view north from the saddle on Sage Road.
Heart 2 Comment 0

I feel fine now, and in fact the skies are brightening just a bit after having threatened to turn showery just a few minutes earlier.  I propose riding out to the end, just over three miles east of here; and Rachael, bless her heart, consents.  She sits a spell longer while I start out, and then follows along taking her time.

It really is a fine viewpoint at the end, although the mountains are starting to disappear behind the clouds by the time I get there.  These last few miles of the ride itself are beautiful too though.  This really is fine riding country, as long as you’re careful with the route selection.

Descending toward the small community at Sage.
Heart 1 Comment 0
My view from the saddle on Sage Road. Beautiful, but a bit more cloud-bound than when Rachael was here. With a longer day available, I imagine it would be a great ride to continue north on this road to Diamond Valley Lake.
Heart 2 Comment 0

Doubling back, I pick up Rachael a half mile later and we bee-line for home.  It’s still 20 miles off, and it’s cold out so we keep a good pace and just bike through, happy to be shoved down the road by a big tailwind.  We’re well chilled by the time we check in at our new motel, happy to thaw out with a warm shower and laze around until time to walk back to Soro’s for another bowl of their awesome butternut squash soup.

I descend a bit faster than Rachael, so I can spare just enough time for a photo and still catch up.
Heart 1 Comment 0
Or two.
Heart 1 Comment 0
Well, three then. This reminds me of some of the houses in Spain that seem to sprout right from the boulders.
Heart 2 Comment 0
Probably my favorite photo of the day, biking into the outskirts of town on an unpaved section of De Portola Road, dodging puddles and listening to the honkers overhead.
Heart 3 Comment 0

Video sound track: Witchi-Tai-To, by Oregon 

Heart 0 Comment 0

Ride stats today: 50 miles, 3,300’; for the tour: 435 miles, 21,000’

Today's ride: 50 miles (80 km)
Total: 435 miles (700 km)

Rate this entry's writing Heart 10
Comment on this entry Comment 5
Jen GrumbyHappy 2020, you two!

Love seeing today's video with the much more friendly roads!

Scott - I hope you don't have another episode, but if you do, I'll be very interested to see whether or not a dose of peanut butter eases the symptoms more quickly.
Reply to this comment
7 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyHappy new year to you two, too! And GBO wishes you well too and says he’s missing you but isn’t quite ready to settle down just yet.
Reply to this comment
7 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyI’m excited about the PB discovery, by the way. Makes me anxious to have another episode, to test it out. It makes sense - just about everything is better with PB. If that doesn’t work, I’ll try canned chicken next.
Reply to this comment
7 months ago
Jen GrumbyUgh! Not canned chicken!!

I'm still hoping for, best case, no more episodes.

But I do agree that peanut butter can improve almost any situation.
Reply to this comment
7 months ago
Jen GrumbyTo Scott AndersonHappy New Year, GBO! We miss you, little buddy. But you have a few more Incredible Anderson Tours ahead of you before you settle down in Silverton.
Reply to this comment
7 months ago