Day 10: Desert Hot Springs to Yucca Valley - Joshua Tree, Anza-Borrego, Imperial Valley 2016 - CycleBlaze

November 9, 2016

Day 10: Desert Hot Springs to Yucca Valley

Today is short but strenuous. 19 miles with 2500 feet of climbing. The end of the bike tour.

The route has two long steep shadeless climbs. My goal is to finish before noon. I got on the road at 8:10 after breakfast at the motel restaurant.

The first couple miles travel west out of Desert Hot Springs on Mission Lakes road with an outstanding view of the San Jacinto mountains to the southwest. Then northwest on busier Indian Canyon drive, still a 2-lane road.

Looking southwest across the Coachella Valley towards the San Jacinto mountains.
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Then unfortunately I have to turn right at the T onto very busy highway 62 which is a 4-lane highway with a concrete barrier in the middle and frequent guard rails on the right. The 4-foot wide shoulder would be safe for cycling if the rumble strip was on the white line, the practice in most of California. But here the rumble strip occupies the safest place to ride a bicycle. When there is a guardrail it was nearly impossible to pedal my wide bike to the right of the rumble strip. The entire 1000 foot climb to Morongo Valley has a rumble strip in the middle of the shoulder. I don't recommend pedaling this highway but for my tour route there is no alternative.

The improperly positioned rumble strip makes the road unsafe for bicycles.
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The rumble strip goes away for good when highway 62 straightens and enters the Morongo Valley. The shoulder was safe for the remainder of the day.

Morongo Valley is a rural community of several thousand people, home to the wonderful Big Morongo Canyon Preserve where I hiked the day before starting this tour.

The final stiff climb to Yucca Valley goes straight up a ridge climbing 800 feet. Still a 4-lane divided highway with heavy traffic.

Looking ahead at the big climb from Morongo Valley to Yucca Valley.
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Behind me is a view of the San Bernardino mountains that gradually improves as highway 62 gains elevation.

Looking back (west) at the San Bernardino mountains. Highest mountains in southern California.
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Near the summit I re-enter the Mojave desert. Back where I started. It's nice to see the familiar high desert plants again.

High elevation plants of the Mojave desert. Joshua tree, yucca, cholla, rabbit brush, bunchgrass.
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The summit is 3400 feet elevation. I stopped for a final view looking back at the San Bernardino mountains. Back in 1998 I pedaled through those mountains up to 8443 feet elevation at Onyx summit.

Final look back at San Bernardino mountains from the summit of highway 62. In the center is 11,502 foot San Gorgonio peak.
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Yucca Valley sprawls for many miles along highway 62 but my car is parked on the west edge of town. After the summit I pedaled only 1 mile gently downhill before turning into Desert Sky Motel and RV Park.

Entering Yucca Valley.
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I got to the car at 12:15 PM. A bit later than planned, partly because of the self-portrait at the sign. The sun was shining brightly. It felt almost hot because I pedaled uphill all morning but the temperature was only 75F.

The 512 mile tour started and finished in Yucca Valley.
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The last two days of the tour were uphill with heavy traffic but I ended the tour feeling strong, not exhausted. Warm sunny weather gives me maximum energy. Another successful tour!

It took only a few minutes to pack the bike in the car and change clothes. I began the long drive home after lunch at a Mexican restaurant. Today I only drive 150 miles to Mojave.

During the drive the high temperature was 82F. The high desert isn't as hot as the low desert and I'm going north. The wind was strong. My experience is that the Barstow to Mojave region is always extremely windy. I wouldn't want to live there or do a bike tour there.

Distance: 19.2 mi. (30.7 km)
Climbing: 2534 ft. (768 m)
Average Speed: 6.2 mph (10 km/h)

Today's ride: 19 miles (31 km)
Total: 514 miles (827 km)

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