(Feb 15, 2022 – written by Dave)
Wow, what a day! I’ll start with a screen grab of the wind forecast for where we are at (see below). Last night at dinner, when I asked our wonderful guides about riding today I don’t think that they’d seen the forecast. Even at brekkie this morning, I think that they may have assumed the forecast was “overblown”. Well, no, it wasn’t. Our first clue was seeing white caps on the interior courtyard hotel pool – I kid you not. Stepping outside the hotel front doors and walking to the van sealed the deal. We were not riding today. Or at least we were not riding in the area around the hotel as previously planned – too much wind and BB-like sand blowing about.
But let me tell you, these REI guides are hard. They didn’t cancel riding completely. Instead they bundled us into the vans and drove us about an hour south to near Salton Lake where we were supposed to be bussed to after lunch anyway. The new plan was to pull up at the servo near the highway and ride up to Borrego Springs as in the original route. (For those interested in the Salton Lake and the mess mankind created there, read https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salton_Sea – It’s quite a tale of best intentions gone wrong)
One step outside the van at Salton Lake and Plan B quickly became Plan C. The route to Borrego Springs was pretty much into the teeth of a strengthening westerly wind. The new plan was to drive to Borrego Springs, let us ride back to Salton, with the wind and then get picked up by the van to make our final way to Borrego. Nancy and I liked Plan C, as did the rest of the group. And to be fair, had Nancy and I been on our own, we would have just called it a day without riding and stayed in the casino another day. Our guides, Jason and Jerry, really made all the right calls today – well done guys!
So finally, after a couple hours in the van we reached our final destination and started riding for the day. And boy was riding fun. The wind was more or less behind us the whole ride. We had uphills where we were coasting in the high-teens and downhills where we ran out of gears. Riding with wind like this is kind of like a drug. You almost start to believe that you are strong enough to ride that fast all the time. Our bubble burst half way back to Salton when Jason set-up a mini snack stop. We had to stand in the lee side of the trailer so as not to be blown away.
In the distance off to the right and in front of us you could see a serious sand storm brewing. A little short of the Plan C discussed endpoint, just as the sand started to pelt us, Jason pulled up the van and we were whisked back to our home for the night – the very fancy La Casa del Zorro in Borrego Springs. To get a ride in on a day like today, we felt very lucky. And to get a ride in that was fun, fast and memorable, well, I guess that’s why you go on guided bike trips. Thanks again J&J.
Before I go further, I have to shout out also to Lyon, one of our fellow riders. I’m not sure if I should call him crazy or brave, perhaps both. He’s kind of a mileage hound and rides extra every day. Today, just for fun, he rode Plan C with the rest of us, then turned around and rode back into the wind to retrace his steps. The group took about an hour to ride Plan C; Lyon took another 3 hours to ride Plan C in reverse. Ya gotta be haaad mate, ya gotta be haaad.
For the next two nights we are staying in the La Casa del Zorro and everyone has a smile on their face. No disrespect intended for last night’s casino hotel but this place is a real oasis. We had a late lunch in the garden, followed by a leg soak in the hot tub and lovely espresso in our room. Our room is so big that the matching queen beds look like doubles for all the extra space. We have two classic wing-back chairs for lounging and naturally, direct access to the pool and hot-tub via a private back patio. Ok, ok, we’d never pick this place on a really long tour and yes, yes, there is a toilet seat.
We’ll do a group ride of some sort from here tomorrow before heading deeper up into the San Bernardino Mountains on Thursday. I have to oil our chains tonight but that can come after a second soak in the hot tub. Life is good.
Oh yeah, a short ride and all the time in the van limited photos today so after we arrived as La Casa, I wandered the grounds and snapped some cacti photos. Mostly for Pete because we know he likes his blooms but also for anyone living in cooler, wet climates right now. Nothing like a cheery cacti or two to remind you that one day, summer will return to your neighbourhood.