In Borrego Springs - Christmas in Joshua Tree - CycleBlaze

December 26, 2015

In Borrego Springs

Windbroken

Looking at this morning's weather forecast, we are grateful.  First we are grateful that we can look at it in the first place - in Wynola the Internet signal was too week and we didn't have the information we would have liked to start the ride.  Secondly, we are grateful because we were planning to spend two nights in Borrego Springs anyway, and so the high wind advisory with gusts up to 50mph didn't threaten our schedule.  It did cause us to adjust our plans for the day though, and we settled on a modest loop of the north end of the basin and the possibility of a hike somewhere.

Our loop began with a a stiff upwind push east past the airfield and then north toward the southern snout of Coyote Mountain, the high ridge that rises abruptly from the basin northeast of town.  We had been looking at this ridge from our breakfast table an hour or so earlier, remarking on the huge dust plumes rising behind it and what they revealed about today's winds.  Now that we were closer, it was startling to see how high even the lowest part of the ridge is - those plumes must have towered at least five hundred feet into the sky.

About two miles into the ride, Rachael realized that the sound she had heard awhile back must have been her mirror dropping on the ground.  She wasn't sure, but thought it could even have been all the way back at the inn.  We thought about it a bit before deciding to just look for it on the way back rather than to backtrack now.  It seemed like a reasonable plan, given that the road was virtually empty and had about a 10 foot wide bicycle lane.

While we stopped to talk about it, I realized also that we had stepped out the door without a lock or the tool kit.  We decided to trust to fate there also, and assume we'd be able to complete the loop without incident.  After all, we have already had one flat on this trip so how unlucky would we have to be to have a second so soon?  It says something about the winds (or our character, I suppose) that we decided to go forward rather than back to the motel and into these miles of headwinds again.

Biking east and into a strong headwind toward the Borrego airport on Palm Canyon Drive
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Looking west toward the San Yisidro Mountains, from Pegleg Road
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At the base of the mountain we came to a T junction.  Tomorrow morning we will return to this point and turn right toward the Salton Sea; but today we turned west onto Henderson Canyon Road.  Immediately the wind situation improved.  We still wrestled with a crosswind, but it was less severe; and for much of the way we were sheltered by wind breaking vegetation - colonnades of tamarisks, then orange groves (ripening oranges at Christmas time!) and then palm groves.

There must have been a message in this at some point in the past. Maybe it's a vista board, discussing Coyote Mountain in the background.
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Winter oranges, Borrego Springs
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On break, Henderson Canyon Road
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In Borrego Springs
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Westbound on Henderson Canyon Road
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Henderson Canyon Road ends at the base of the San Ysidro Mountains, in another T Junction.  Turning south will take us back toward town, but first we went north for a four mile loop to the end to the pavement, through the large residential development of Indian Head Ranch.  We went this way just to get in a few more miles and get a closer look at the mountains rimming the north end of the valley, but this small loop proved to be the highlight of the day.  

All along the way, the desert sands are interspersed with a hundred or so public metal art sculptures, by the artist Ricardo Breceda.  It is a fantastical collection of sculptures, and an impressive public artworks project.  The desert is brought to life by all variety of pioneering/old west figures and extinct or imaginary animals - prancing dinosaurs, clashing big horned sheep, giant armored tortoises, sows with suckling pigs, prospectors, Indian Chiefs.  It is all amazing and everything is worth a look, but the piece de resistance is definitely the giant sea serpent, it's body weaving above and seemingly beneath the sand.

We considered making a bid on this fine property above Indian Head Ranch but then thought of how much we would hate biking up that driveway every night.
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Metal sculpture by Ricardo Breceda, Borrego Springs
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Metal sculpture by Ricardo Breceda, Borrego Springs
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Metal sculpture by Ricardo Breceda, Borrego Springs
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Metal sculpture by Ricardo Breceda, Borrego Springs
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Metal sculpture by Ricardo Breceda, Borrego Springs
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Metal sculpture by Ricardo Breceda, Borrego Springs
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There is nothing that could top that for the day, but the remainder of the outing was very nice too.  It began with a stop in town at a pastry shop, where we enjoyed basking out front in the sun and sheltered from the wind, snacking on pastries and sharing a large slice of the famous Julian Apple Pie.  Then we turned westward toward the foothills to the state park headquarters, where we enjoyed exploring it's short walking path, marveling at the varieties of desert plant life and the views west across the valley.  We had thought originally to come here and take a decent hike, but without a lock we didn't think we could risk leaving our bikes unattended.

Then, back to our room to relax until dinner.  Along the way we backtracked the first part of the day's ride, collecting the mirror that had been faithfully awaiting our rerun all day.

Ocotillo, Borrego Springs
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Cactus shadow, Borrego Springs
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I love these trees. Palo Verde has such a beautiful bark.
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It's still here! This morning Rachael realized she had lost her mirror early in the ride, so we backtracked a bit at the end of our loop, hoping for the best.
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After dinner we braced ourselves against the cold just long enough to watch the moon rise behind the palms, and then scurried for the warmth of our room.
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Today's ride: 31 miles (50 km)
Total: 171 miles (275 km)

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