Cathedral City, CA. The temperature outside my door in Beaumont Friday morning was 47 degrees, a significant drop from the 85 degrees that was the high the previous day. Worse, the wind was blowing strongly. LA TV weather reports warned of heavy winds that would result in rain throughout the area on Saturday. It was not a promising start.
The good news about riding east to Palm Springs is the steep decline in elevation, from 2600 feet to 479. Phoning friends in Palm Springs, they reported clear skies compared to the heavy cloud that enveloped Beaumont. Strong wind, however, was common to both locales. At the barber shop a woman spoke ominously of sand storms along the route.
Google maps listed a pleasant cycling route along roads paralleling the interstate for most of the 40 miles to Palm Springs. At Banning it suggested a deviation to the north that would add distance but avoid the need to cycle on interstate 10. I followed that route, which took me to the gated entrance to an Indian reservation where I was turned away.
Back at the interstate I was warned about a blind spot on the underpass that curved up towards the highway. A highway worker eased my concern saying traffic was light and there wouldn’t be a problem. He was right.
Thus began my first foray on the wide shoulder of eastbound interstate 10. After only one mile the recalculated Google maps directed riders along a side road parallel to 10. It was there the wind became stronger, so much so that I seldom needed to pedal. It was a powerful tailwind and at times my speed touched 32 mph. It was too fast. I traveled several miles with finger tips over the brakes.
Gradually descending to the desert floor the sky lightened but the wind became even stronger. Any rider on this route is aware of how rapidly conditions and geography change. There is a reason hundreds of giant windmills populate the desert terrain on the western approaches to Palm Springs.
wind farms west of Palm Springs
On highway 111 approaching Palm Springs I stopped at an isolated gas station and parked the bike in a place I thought was out of the wind. No such luck.
In the ensuing five-miles I was compelled to stop multiple times in order not to be blown over. The cross winds were the worst. Once past the wind farms and behind the rocks that shield the several towns in the Palm Springs area, conditions eased. The sun shone brilliantly and the temperature may have been in the upper 60s. But gazing to the rear the sky was ominous.
Saturday and Sundays are question marks as the route towards Arizona begins with a long, steady climb. After Indio there are few facilities for 80-miles.
Friday’s ride was 43-miles, bringing the total since Monday in Long Beach to about 125-miles.