We left the Friday punch clock and literally rode off into the sunset.
Carter, Dave, Joshua, and I left The Hub around 5pm Friday, just as the evening alpenglow was starting to wash over the mountain. We were “out there” in no time.
The evening’s destination was Bailey’s Cabin, a rock house built some 70 years go by cattlemen. It’s in Coyote Canyon, part of the Anza Borrego Desert State Park. The prospect of a roof over our heads was especially alluring on a cold night.
To get there, we charted a route using a minimal amount of asphalt. We climbed a portion of Thomas Mountain and descended into Anza valley. We passed a property we’ve come to refer to as “the chainsaw house.”
Just before we entered the canyon, a friendly motorcyclist rode up alongside us… chatty, he told us about his own mountain bike adventures. He explained to us where he lives, and offered us water and assistance anytime we should want it in the future. (all this while shouting over the sound of his engine, in the dark, riding alongside us)
We dropped into the canyon, lights on, with a sliver of the moon above. Glancing over the edge, all we could see was darkness. A lot of it. We pedaled on down canyon at a good pace, dodging the occasional mouse.
When we arrived at the cabin we got settled, foraged some wood, and enjoyed a small fire. (aka “Caveman TV”) The stars above put on quite a show.
We’d packed food with us from Idyllwild. For future reference, the Grill & Chill sandwiches pack well, as do burritos. 😉
Three of us decided to sleep outside, but Carter opted to keep the resident cabin rat company. Sleep came quickly, and deep.
We woke up with the sun around 6am, enjoyed a light breakfast and lamented the fact we had no coffee.
We bid our cabin farewell and started our day of riding. The midsection of the canyon is explicitly closed to motorized traffic, so the riding became more technical in sandy wash and rock gardens. The Middle Willows are a bit of an unexpected paradise in this slice of desert; spring fed year round, and canopied in green.
We emerged back on to roads south of the Middle Willows in Jeep territory. The lower section of the canyon wasn’t too sandy, we made great time.
Coming into Borrego Springs, Joshua’s bike suffered a mishap that would keep him one place for quite some time. (broken frame! true story) Thankfully, he had plans for a pick up to catch a flight that evening anyhow. 😉
We feasted on Mexican food and stocked up on high calorie offerings from the store before hitting pavement up Montezuma’s Grade. Not familiar with this climb? It’s as grand and imposing as the name would imply.
The climb really took its toll, we wrapped up our day at the top of the climb in Ranchita and called Mary for a pick up. Though we’d originally planned to ride all the way back to Idyllwild, we were all happy to shoot the breeze with Ranchita locals and explore their community park before getting picked up. We lounged in the grass and even got some new route beta from a local retired firefighter. The next trip won’t be too far off, I’m sure.
By the end of our adventure, we were only gone from home about 24 hours. But it was so good it felt like many more.