Sunday, January 24, 2016

San Diego desert loop: 150 miles of much-needed bliss

I had 1/2 day free and wanted a nice ride outside of the city. The weather was looking good so I hopped on my big KTM and headed east toward the desert. It was brisk on the highway but never got colder than 48 degrees.

I passed a few of my favorite rides as I rode east: The Viejas Grade and the Sunrise Highway (S1) are two fine rides in the eastern San Diego area. You can just see those cool roads slicing through the hills…

My soul poked out of my chest, then hopped on to my shoulder for some fresh air and a better view.

"Faster, FASTER!" OK. I smiled and my soul smiled back. Man, I really needed this ride today.

I rode about 60 miles on the I-8 to Ocotillo, then turned north into the desert on the S2, a lazy old paved route that cuts nicely through the middle of the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.

Even better, the temperature averaged a fine-feeling 65 degrees.

There wasn't much traffic in either direction. Not much happening. Even the green-garbed agents at the Border Patrol checkpoint just smiled and waved as I rode past.

Now, if you want to set a personal land speed record, the S2 is a good road on which to do it. But not today, no sir. Today I was just cruising along enjoying the day.

I noticed that the area had received a lot of rain and that means we’ll see quite a desert wildflower display this spring; I look forward to seeing that.

I passed many trails that went to the right off into the desert or to the left up into the hills. But I wasn't exploring sandy trails today so I continued along on the S2’s weathered pavement. I smiled as I passed Canyon sin Nombre, remembering the place where I rode and camped this time last year.

I pulled off the S2 to snap some photos and drink some water. It was dead quiet; just me and a cactus or three. I walked over the landscape as I enjoyed the soothing silence of the desert.

Time to go. I slid my leg over the bike’s seat and throttled through the gears. In 20 minutes I’d reached Highway 78 where I took a left and headed west toward Julian. I leaned into the curves of the Banner Grade, bypassing Wynola Road, a cool little backcountry ride in the Julian area.

I stopped in Julian to have pizza and beer with my friend and fellow rider Dan at the Nickel Beer Co., a newer establishment frequented mostly by locals. The jalapeno and habanero beers were perfect for the brisk, sunny day…

From there we continued along the 78 to Ramona, taking the 67 and the I-8 back to San Diego.

The ride was barely 150 miles but was just what I needed. My goal was some thought-clearing bliss: Goal achieved.

1 comment:

  1. Great photos. I am still envious of your weather. Damn Oregon rain.