I recently got back out on the Palm Canyon Epic after a couple year hiatus. I have took the RV out to Palm Desert and setup basecamp for the weekend. My wife took us up to the top and it was quite nice to not a “commute” to do after the ride. It was a great day out of the bike.
I spent this past weekend out in Palm Springs with my girlfriend and got in one of Southern California’s Classic Epic rides, Palm Canyon. I have done this ride quite a few times but the plan was to do a different variation on the route for this outing. All of the logistics has been carefully worked out a day or so before the ride which meant that would be not be how things would actually go down.
Everyone pretty much arrived on time and after some introductions and early morning chit chat while jostling bikes between vehicles we were on our way out of Palm Springs and up the mountain to the upper trailhead. We met up with most of the San Diego crew at the top and were soon off and rolling through the Pinyon Pines trails which is the most commonly taken variation on the classic route. It was really good rolling up and down singletrack goodess before getting serious about dropping into Palm Canyon.
Lance, Matt and Ben were the rabbits of the group and they were being mighty zippy with the pace. I should have known better than to chase those guys but I’m a slow learner. After a few miles I found myself in cardio distress hanging over the handlebars whezzing like a 90 year old chain smoker with screaming quads and the only coherent thought I could hear in my melon over the sound of blood pounding through my temples was “What The F$%k!”.
After regaining some composer I was back on the peddles and was able to notice what a glorious day it was now that I was back in my proper place in the whole age/weight/fitness lineup. The thought did not escape me that we connoisseurs of tasty malted and hopped beverages seemed to be pushing similar paces.
Palm Canyon is known for finding weaknesses in your gear and exploiting them. Steve had one of his pedals strip out of the crankarm. We tried a variety of McGuyver options to keep him rolling but as the ride progressed the pedal got worse and worse and worse. He ultimately ended up have to do at least 6 miles of one legged pedaling, hiking and coasting across the desert before you was able to hit a bail out point and head downhill towards civilization.
The trail conditions were pretty good despite it being a fairly dry winter in these parts. None of the stream/creek crossing had water in them.
Here are Steve, Michael and Evan heading out on the Indian Poterro trail. I managed miss every catcus gauntlet on and along the entire trail but I managed to step into a cholla while getting setup for this shot. I plucked out a good dozen spines and I’m sure I will pluck another dozen out of my leg over the next few weeks as my body works to push out the ones that broke off flush or under the skin.
Michael had a couple of the evil chollas jump out and attack his tires over the course of the day. Evan was kind enough to donate a Slime tube after the second flat.
One of the variations on the route involves not going up the 3 mile wash climb and the follow on descent of the Hahn Buena Vista trail which represents a big cost followed by a big reward section of this route. Instead we only climbed about 10 percent of the 3 mile Dry Wash and the hung a left onto the East Fork trail where we did some rolling ups and downs over to the Vandeventer trail before settling in for a climb along the fern canyon trail up to the saddle of the upper end of Wildhorse and the Clara Burgess trail. The next variation that was being thrown in on this day involved taking the Clara Burgess trail up and over Murray Hill and down into the bottom of Goat Trails with a follow on climb that would take us back up near the top of the Goat Trails again. I have gone over Murray Hill in the opposite direction and I knew it was going to be a real beater. After taking stock of what I had left in the tank, I along with three others opted to forgo this section and meet at the next variation point along the Garstin trail. Above are some of the manly mens group heading up the Clara Burgess trail.
Dave and Michael making their way to the top of the Garstin trail.
The peak to the left is Murray Hill and saddle were the manly men started from is off to the right side of the frame. If you play a little “Where is Waldo” you can see them working their way up to the Garstin trail. One of the manly men had to bail after Murray Hill from being completely bonked to the point of being sick. We ladies of the shortcut crew had spent every bit of an hour changing our feminine napkins, snacking and napping. Did I mention what a glorious day it was?
The final variation on the traditional route today had us dropping the Shannon and Henderson trail out of the Goat Trails. Above is the top part of the Shannon trail before it gets really steep with a series of hella tight switchbacks. It was a really cool section of trail but not for those who get a freaked out when exposure is involved. Blowing some of those switch backs to the outside would not make you a happy camper and could net you an appearance on “When Vacations Attack”, “Worlds Most Amazing…” or any one of those other “Awh Shit” shows.
As a bit of coolness bonus along this trail you go by Bob Hope’s house. Its the big domed pad on the right hand side of the picture. The Shannon and the Henderson trails dump you out on surface streets that we took back over the traditional bottom of the Palm Canyon route in Von’s Rimrock Shopping Center. Tasty beverages were soon being had along with post-ride chit chat before more bike jostling ensued before we made our way over to Rancho Mirage for dinner at Babe’s BBQ and Brewhouse. I helped shuttle folks back up to top before rolling back down to the hill to finish out the weekend in Palm Springs with my girlfriend.