Saturday, April 4, 2015

Stagecoach 400 - The Sands of Anza Borrego

It was pretty cool to meet a bunch of the guys that were going to do the Stagecoach. We had a riders meeting at Hub, and Brendan reiterated a couple of little changes to the route. Pretty much everything had already been covered in a set of cues that he had emailed a couple of weeks ago, so after 20 or 30 minutes we were ready to head off for pizza.

Riders Meeting

The next morning we rolled out at 6:30 after waiting for some of the Spot's to get synched up.  There was a nice climb from the elementary school in Idyllwild and then we hit May Valley Road.  A nice fast descent there, then onto a pretty meadow and then Keen Camp single track.  A bit of a road ride and we were off onto a dirt road taking us up to the site of the Speed of Light Reflector. I picked up a solar panel that had fallen off a rider's bike and was able to get it back to him there.  Then we did a really rocky steep descent on something called the Jim Truck Trail. This thing sketched me a bit, not being a good descender and I took my time and walked a little bit of it. Pretty soon we were at the Sunshine Market, a little store in the middle of a trailer park right off Terwilliger Road.  Several folks were there getting refreshed after 25 miles of riding.

Waiting to Start


A couple of miles later, we were going down into Coyote Canyon.  The initial descent wasn't that bad, it only got steep towards the bottom and again I took my time. As we went down, it got hotter and hotter and pretty soon we were at the bottom and experiencing some 90 plus temperatures.

I was following tracks in the sand and got a little bit off the GPS track and kept going and going and kept thinking I should be passing Bailey's Cabin. Then I saw one of the guys ( Alan I think ) coming up from the right and apparently I went around Bailey's. He and I rode together for a bit, getting stuck in the sand, riding a bit, getting stuck and off and walking and then back on, and then stuck and off and walking and then back on and getting stuck and walking and then back on.....  Maybe I should have let more air out of my tires, I think I was running 27 or 28 lbs, that was probably way too much, but always am afraid of burping a tire and having to fix something in the middle of nowhere.

We passed the First Child monument, got through the Middle Willows and then got separated. Riding on from there the route got a little better and there were even a couple of little streams with running water. I soaked my hat in each one of them and put it back on to help cool down and that helped a little bit.

Abandon Hope All Who Enter !

Looking Back towards Civilization

First Child Monument

Borrego Sculpture

Borrego Sculptures
Finally I get to pavement. Now it's really hot outside and Borrego Springs is still a few miles away, but making progress.  The area has these impressive metal sculptures, and I took pictures next to a couple of them. Finally around 2:30 I think, I was at the Mexican food restaurant ordering a couple of tacos and a giant iced tea and a giant Pepsi. There were maybe 5 other riders there and as I ate four or more came in, all equally hot.

Some folks were scratching right there, already having had enough fun.  And others were waiting for the sun to go down. I sat for a while till about 4pm and then rolled for Ocotillo Wells.  It took long enough that the Split Mountain RV store was closed when I got there and I went across the street to the Iron Door and got a Coke, a Coke to go and a water to go.  Up Split Mountain Road as the sun went down and a pickup with a couple of riders being SAG'd out, asked me if I needed a ride.  Folks were scratching already. I met someone on the roadside who had thrown up due to the heat and was waiting for this guy to come back. Then into Fish Wash.

These were in Ocotillo Wells
Fish Wash initially was fun. The riding was pretty good and I just rode and climbed and stayed in the canyon and the last of the light disappeared and the moon began to show. One of the guys from Borrego passed me, but otherwise I was alone.  As it got darker, I had trouble locating the road in all of the sand and I got a little off track.  And the sand became harder to ride in.  I got to where I thought Diablo was supposed to be and pushed up a steep bank, then pulled off to the side, drank my Coke and thought I would sleep for a few hours. I camped out and tried to get to sleep, then saw the lights of some other riders .. it was Shelly and three fellows and they passed by and then I could hear them climb something which turned out to be the real Diablo Drop !  The wind was blowing some, so I packed up and headed out.  Diablo is crazy steep, but I finally got to the top. Again, the sand was deep, the riding slow and it was a slog of ride, get stuck, walk, repeat. Arroyo Tapiado was pretty nice and then after a few more hours, I was hitting the pavement and getting to Aqua Caliente Springs at about 4 am. Totally spent, almost out of water, I spread out the bivy under a tree and went to sleep.

1 comment:

  1. nice write up. I was doing the route too. But due the heat I had to bale in aqua caliente. But I was new and I should of rested up there and went on. I will be trying it again march 11th 2016 with better knowledge and more experience