To Temecula - Looking Back With 2020 Vision, Part I - CycleBlaze

December 27, 2019

To Temecula

The good weather is back with us for a few days again.  We’re headed into the interior today, to Temecula, which we’ll use as our base for a few hilly day rides.  Temecula is a thousand feet above sea level and surrounded by ridges, so some climbing is involved.  The route I picked out for today was chosen without much care, basically by letting RideWithGPS draw one out for us.  It starts with a 13 mile spin up the coast to Oceanside.  These miles are pleasant enough, following a bike route a bit away from the busy coast most of the way.  Mostly residential.  When we return through here next week on the way back down the coast to San Diego I think we might stay closer to the water.

Leaving Encinitas, on a much brighter day. And no, I don’t know what she’s looking at here.
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It’s fortunate that bikes may use the full lane this morning.
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Riding through scenic Oceanside, sharing the road.
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The breakers here are trance-inducing. I find myself wanting to just keep watching.
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Surfers by the giant Oceanside Pier - another mesmerizing spectacle. Always changing, always the same.
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At Oceanside we turn inland, following the completely delightful San Luis Rey River Trail.  An excellent paved route that sits atop the riverside dike, it could hardly be more pleasant cycling.  Unlike a lot of the routes into the interior here this one is quiet, well away from the nearest freeway.

After about six miles of this we come to a picnic table in the sun and polish off the deli sandwiches we picked up passing through Oceanside.

On the excellent San Luis Rey River Trail. It’s not just for bikers.
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So it looks like the hills in the east did get some snow. It looks great from down here, but I’m glad we decided not to bike through them.
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Looking East up the San Luis Rey. It’s quite colorful now, lined with yellowing willows. It feels like an autumn day, not midwinter.
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Words to live by.
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On the San Luis Rey River Trail, the best miles of the day.
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Right after lunch we leave the riverside trail, cross the river, and continue east following the north bank of the river.  For the next fifteen miles we’re in the traffic, glad that we have a wide, safe shoulder to ride on but looking longingly across the river to the other side and wondering how we would have done if we’d stayed on the south bank, and daydreaming ourselves back to the blissfully quiet roads of the Almeria Desert.

Still, it’s safe enough if not the most inspiring riding.  After following Route 76 for about 10 miles we turn off onto Old Highway 395 and start climbing, gaining about a thousand feet in four miles before topping out at Rainbow and dropping down to Temecula.

Regrets, I’ve got a few.  Later, I’ll look at today’s route again and see what looks likely to be a much nicer and quieter option if only I’d taken the time to stare at the map longer.  I’m sure if we come this way again we’ll take that option, following the river trail to its end, then picking up with Old River Road, Lilac Road, and up Rice Canyon.  

Temecula is pretty sprawling, but it’s a good base for day rides into the hills.  It has all the facilities we need for a multi-day stay (as in, there’s a good and eclectic selection of restaurants.  Italian tonight, Thai tomorrow).  We’ll be here for four nights, long enough to sit out another cold and wet day due to roll through Monday.

Route 76 doesn’t look like the most appealing cycle route, but actually it’s fine except for the noise. A constant, smooth wide shoulder, a gradual grade. It’s probably one of the best routes into the interior. It’s even marked as a bike route.
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Still looking across the San Luis Rey River, with the ridges steadily looming larger as we ride east. It’s a very attractive route, if you plug your ears and look away from the traffic.
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East of Bonsall the traffic on Route 76 thins out considerably. Looking again at the map though, I’m disappointed in myself. I think I missed the best route - stay on the San Luis Rey River Trail to its end, connect to Old River Road and then Lilac Road, and then cross the ridge up Rice Canyon instead of Old Highway 395. A few miles longer and another 1,000’ of climbing, but it looks like a much more pleasant route.
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Climbing Old Highway 395 is a fairly gentle way to cross the ridge into the interior, but it’s not that quiet either. Wildlife sightings are few and far between, and elusive. This red tail lets us get fairly close, until he espies Rachael biking below and soars off.
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Nearing the top, we get a last look east through San Luis Rey’s Canyon.
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The rocks at the summit are interesting, reminding me of the granite boulders at Joshua Tree. Same formation?
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From the top, we get a brief glimpse at this impressive range to the north. I’m hopeful we’ll get a better look on one of our day rides from Temecula.
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Over the top, dropping down Rainbow Road to Temecula. Fast, winding, no shoulder, not the best road surface. Otherwise, fine.
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Temecula, a big ranch house sprawl covering the best land of the basin.
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Video sound track: November Winds, by Friedemann

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Ride stats today: 45 miles, 2,100’; for the tour: 304 miles, 10,400’

Today's ride: 45 miles (72 km)
Total: 304 miles (489 km)

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Jacquie GaudetI find RWGPS does a decent job with route finding (better than my Garmin left to its own devices, I think). It would be nice of you could set priorities, though. Like ranking “scenic” above “shortest distance” or “minimize climbing”. I also wish there was some ranking system for unpaved surfaces.
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3 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Jacquie GaudetI have my own ranking system for unpaved surfaces. Most of them rank pretty low.
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3 weeks ago
Jacquie GaudetTo Scott AndersonThere's a world of difference between well-constructed but unpaved cycle paths and muddy, rocky, or sandy routes.
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3 weeks ago