Pretty, pretty please… with a cherry on top. Can I go for a “guys” weekend to Idyllwild? So I can drink beer from stainless chalices and shred the fabled Palm Canyon?
And so it began. Jumped in Ted’s spiffy new Forerunner. Loaded gear in the back, bikes on the rack. A quick weekend of campfire stories, bluetooth tunes, singletrack slaying, and a stack of memorable memories.
Popped into The Hub Cyclery in Idyllwild, but Brendan was off in Sedona – boo hoo. Cruised over to the art school, met up with Big Joe, aka “Missing Link” to get the lead out of our legs. A nice warmup ride on the singletrack network to get the blood flowing and sweat dripping before grabbing some mexi food and a negro modelo.
A quick run to the grocery, where Joe promptly had a six pack fall apart in his hand. Beer down! Mop mop, grab another out of the fridge… some fruit, some nuts, and a pumpkin pie later, and we were on the way to the campground.
Met up with the rest of the San Diego tribe that’s made this ride a yearly ritual. Lucky that Ted invited me along to hang with this great group of peeps. Pinion Campgrounds. Flush toilets and hot water – nice! Kevin’s RV was plopped right in the middle and served as the epicenter of activity. Got my tent pitched, and before long, a fire was blazing, Pandora was jamming, and Pizza Port brew was flowing down throats. No better way to meet new friends and catch up with old, than by the glowing embers of a campfire. Eagerly, we chatted with anticipation about the ride we would embark on in the a.m. I couldn’t believe that it started right next to our campsite. Pizza and beer and shuttle vehicles would be waiting for us at our final destination in Palm Springs. Are you kidding?! Sounded too good to be true. I was the only “first-timer” in the bunch, and by the way everyone’s eyes lit up as they explained the ride, I knew I was in for a treat.
After a windy night and tough sleeping, I was happy when the sun woke up. It was like Christmas morning. Let’s get going!! The ride lived up to the hype and then some. Sure, it’s an considered an “epic”, so people know it’s good. But it’s still a fairly unknown, somewhat “hidden” gem. Fine with me, and obviously fine with the locals. BTW, there’s a chance this trail could be lost forever due to a potential land exchange between the BLM and the local Indian tribe. Learn more and PLEASE sign this letter!!
Palm Canyon is the Full Monty. You’ve got rocky sections and techy, exposed descents to keep you on your A-game. Punchy climbs to keep your cardio on check. Magic carpet, butter smooth singletrack that will put you in a trance, as you ebb and flow through cholla-lined ribbons of bliss. On and on it goes. 30 miles of singletrack magic. Top notch desert riding on par with anything you’ll find in AZ or NM. We came across a rare desert tortoise, and a few other humans, but for the most part, pure solitude. When all was said and done, we descended over 6000′ with 2,300′ of climbing sprinkled in. A fantastic blend.
Most everyone was on 6″ trail bikes. I brought the 29+ rigid bike, and it was perfect for me. Plowed through rock gardens and slashed up the trail. Albeit, my forearms took a beating at points… but overall, it was a great tool for the job.
Pizza and beer and fellowship to put a great stamp on a wonderful day. Back to camp, and a Mike Hess DIPA by the fire, before my tired body told me it was time for bed after a solid day’s work. In the morning, poof – everyone said their goodbyes, and another annual homage was in the books. A breakfast quesadilla in Idyllwild, and before I knew it the 80 degree temps had dissipated, and we were greeted back in Mammoth with some fresh fluffy white and shivering temps. Just another dream induced by the insatiable urge to spin pedals in new places.