San Felipe Road - Winterlude 2020 - CycleBlaze

February 22, 2021

San Felipe Road

Today the Raven and I drive back to Shelter Valley, park again at its community center, and set off on another ride along S-2, the historical stage route we followed yesterday.  Two differences though - today we’re heading north, and today we have company.  Rocky read yesterday’s post, decided she needed to see this country herself, and tagged along for the ride.

It helped that I didn’t show her a map labeling any Very Steep Hills.  It also helped that she knows most of today’s ride already because she’s ridden it before, twice.  Today we’re biking north as S-2 becomes the San Filipe Road, which we rode when we biked into Borrego Springs on a very cold Christmas Day four years ago, and again as a day ride last winter.  She correctly remembers it as a fine ride and is anxious for a three-peat.

Windy again today as we start out. Very windy.
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And it really helps that there’s a strong south wind blowing this morning as we bike north out of Shelter Valley.  San Felipe Road is a climb, and after these first two flat miles it’s uphill for the next thirteen as San Filipe Road follows its creek up to Teofulio Summit.    It’s a steady but modest climb, but it’s a breeze today with this 15-20 mile pusher easing the way. 

This is such a fine stretch of road, following the creek as it rises from an arid desert landscape to a summit in a dense oak forest.  Of the three times we’ve ridden this road now, today’s is possibly the best.  It’s the only time we’ve started from the bottom, and the morning light gives a brilliance to the bare-limbed willows as we follow them uphill.  I stop often to admire the scene and quickly lose sight of Rachael as she’s blown uphill.

Rocky leads the way as we bike north out of Shelter Valley, with the Cigarette Hills dead on.
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Two rigs, Shelter Valley.
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Climbing San Filipe Road. For the next ten miles we follow the creek as it slowly rises into the hills. The creek is dry now, but there must be a fair amount of water near the surface from the looks of the willows lining the stream.
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Biking straight at the Vulcan Mountains, but we’ll round the bend ahead and continue following the creek up the valley to the right.
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There’s a lot of history along this route. It’s also the course of the old Southern Emigrant Trail that brought many early settlers to Southern California.
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The colors here are stunning this morning, with the rich green oak forests above and the silvery willows below.
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Spectacular now, but it must really be brilliant in about November when the willows are golden.
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Along San Felipe Creek.
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This seems like a different variety of yucca than the others we’ve been seeing.
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Bill ShaneyfeltI think it might be our old friend, chaparral yucca.

https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Hesperoyucca_whipplei
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6 days ago
Scott AndersonTo Bill ShaneyfeltThat’s surely the same plant. Interesting that it’s not a true yucca. No wonder it looks a bit different. I thought that the fractured bark-like stem was particularly interesting.
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6 days ago
Bill ShaneyfeltTo Scott AndersonI believe it is the same stuff that grew in the foothills near Mojave. The flower stalks are incredibly lightweight as one might expect for something with such explosive growth, and surprisingly strong.

Interesting how the stalk is so Agave-like and the leaves are so Yucca-like.
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6 days ago
Along San Felipe Creek.
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Along San Felipe Creek.
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Along San Felipe Creek.
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Along San Felipe Creek. We’re just coming into sight of the summit now, at the gap ahead.
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As I climb, I expect any time to see Rachael coming back down up ahead of me.  I’d like to make it to the summit myself because I remember how attractive the oaks are there, so I’m anticipating a short roadside conversation: does she want to double back and climb up again with me, or continue back toward Shelter Valley and meet up at the end of the ride.

There’s no need though, because she’s already padded the ride by dropping off the north side of the pass a short ways to Warner Valley and then doubled back.  We connect exactly at the summit, take a trophy shot, and sit down under the oaks for lunch.  Cheese and salami today!

She was here first. She earns the summit shot for the day.
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Looking off the north end of the summit into Warner Valley. Here’s how Rachael entertained herself waiting for me to poke my way up to the top.
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The summit is lined with splendid old oaks, their bark looking like cork trees. We’re just inside the tree line here - the oaks start about a hundred feet below the summit.
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The ride back to the car is a blast, literally, as we push downhill into a 20 mph headwind the whole way.  It tapers off toward the bottom though, and by the time we get back to the car it’s milder, less head-on, and more manageable. 

Southbound, downhill and into the wind, San Filipe Road. Granite Mountain ahead.
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Video sound track: Cactus de Paraguana, by Carlos Guedes

I’d have been happy to stop at the car when we first arrived - my butt’s a bit sore, I’ve got a hot foot, just the usual gripes; but Rachael is insistent and unsympathetic.  She hasn’t gotten her 42 in yet, so we overshoot and continue on to the south end of Shelter Valley before turning back again, seeing part of the road I covered yesterday.  and it’s a good thing we did, because it’s amazing biking through the cholla forest this afternoon, seeing it lit up with the low afternoon sun streaming through.  Cactus on fire.

Adding just the right number of miles, we bike south through Shelter Valley to its south end.
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Cholla forest fire.
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Reentering Shelter Valley.
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Ride stats today: 42 miles, 2,700’; for the tour: 2,954 miles, 115,100’; for the year: 39 riding days, 1,691 miles, 58,100’, and 2 flat tires

Today's ride: 42 miles (68 km)
Total: 2,955 miles (4,756 km)

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