Aaaah! This is the life.  Lazing by the pool, tummy bursting from the gourmet fine dining; entrancing cumulus clouds floating overhead.  Not lifting a finger nor burning a single calorie for days upon end……naaaah!

Scratch that! 

Let’s kick this thing up several notches and check out what else southern California can do for you.

Nope, I don’t wanna see Palm Springs by car, taxi guide, or big air-conditioned bus with groups of people. That ain’t a-happenin’.  Let’s see here . . . how to experience this area?  Hmm . . .




Lined up for San
Andreas Fault action.

“We’ll have your mountain bikes delivered to your resort in a few minutes,” announces  Evan Trubee, owner of the six-year-old  Big Wheel Bike Tours.  He is thrilled that I agree that there’s no better way to see the world than by hiking and biking.

Two gleaming high performance mountain bikes are waiting as promised, along with a Palm Springs bike map detailing big, wide stone paths and rugged, crafted-by-nature-only trails. BWBike Tours uses Trek 700 Hybrid bikes available in men's and women's sizes on the smorgasbord of bike routes to choose.

Nice ride, awesome in-town stuff but it’s time to crank up the adrenaline and do the real deal!  I call Evan and tell him to show me a little bit of everything.  “Okay, Box Canyon Express it is!” he exclaims without a moment to waste.

We climb into the SUV and Evan’s tour guide, Heidi, who has the accent to match the name. kicks into excitement with full details of her home territory with knowledge and pride.  On our drive to the bike and hike expedition trailhead, I get an insider’s scoop of the location, making this more than just a tour but something dear to heart.

Palm Springs’ original name was Seche; in 1893 the area received twelve days of solid rain and then shriveled up from SEVEN YEARS of drought.  You must love the land like Heidi to know this kind of info.  She provides a dramatic visual story as we proceed through Palm Springs and the surrounding areas.




Leading the mountain
biking pack through
the desert panorama.

My setup is all set up and I have no worries but to strap on the helmet, grab the water bottle provided, and load up on nutritious snacks.  Oh yeah, and the several cookies that Heidi baked earlier!

Evan, with his incredible cycling skills, leads the way and Heidi follows in the SUV.  This is so awesome—food, drinks, and safety trailing behind me and all I have to do is set a pace that’s superb for impromtu exploring of the desert discoveries around me.  Hot, dry desert frames snow-capped mountain . . . where else but in California!  This is a sensory natural experience on a two-wheel steed and not through the windows of a car.  It’s also an excellent way to fend off those extra calories from Palm Springs ’ fine dining experience.

We make a gradual descend and I’m unaware of the 3000 foot decline until, well, until I start doing the research for this feature.  I know Evan is a speed demon and a little more hardcore, belonging to some extreme cycling group, but he adjusts his speed to canter to mine. I know his heart rate isn’t elevated, but mine is and the adrenaline is pumping as I grip the handlebars tightly. 




Desert, mountains, sky make
for an enjoyable ride.

The tranquil beauty of the expansive desert is a sharp contrast with the many-hued mountain background that calms my mind, rejuvenating my spirit. The scenery is exhilarating, balancing out the serenity with energy and aliveness. 

We stop any time I want to explore and the chlorophyll green of a plant growing in dessicated solid hardpan is amazing.  Heidi plucks a leaf here and there and tells me to feel it, smell it, or crush it.  She announces the name and medicinal uses for each herb; I picture the Indians who used to live here.




The Pacific Plate grinds against
the North American Plate resulting
in the San Andreas Fault.

Below: Desert striations are
testimony to eons of geological
action near Palm Springs.



Then suddenly, it’s a major “WOW!” moment as I look up and see the San Andreas Fault rippling and tearing through the landscape!  The earth’s crust is made of a series of slow-moving teutonic plates and when these plates slide or move, they create earthquakes, folding ridges, and landslides.  The San Andreas Fault is where two plates meet with earthquake rocking devasataion.

The
San Andreas Fault is of awesome , living color maganitude — 800 miles in length and 12 miles in depth, close to the magma zone.  This is the mother of all fault lines.  Seeing it live and not in textbooks is a mind rattling “Wow! Wow! Wow!”

The various colorful rock striations remind me of the clay I played with as a kid. Roll it out flat and layer each color and smash them together!  The enormous folded, banded rocks alternate light to dark to light, reminding me of a giant’s art project, or a layered dessert, such as an ice cream cake or a rich torte. I am forever thinking of food!

Over the eons the plates’ shifting raises the earth’s crust with spectacular folds, lifting desert into mountains, and earthquakes crunching into geological distortions.

The bikes are put away and Heidi leads us on a hike up the uneven terrain and we stand on top of the world, viewing the incredible power of nature and the landscape created by the San Andreas Fault.  It is so steep, soft, and uneven that I have to plant my bottom on the rubble to scoot myself down for fear of slipping.  Heidi tells me to land on my heels first. 




Big Wheel Bike Tours
P.O. Box 4185
Palm Desert , CA 92261
Phone: (760) 779-1837
Fax: (760) 776-8247

www.bwbtours.com

She points out the Salton Sea and tells an amazing story: in 1905 the Colorado River exploded through the poorly built irrigation controls and kept spilling in until 1907 when protective levees were built to stop the flowing water. By then, the inland lake was 40 miles long and 13 miles wide!  The Salton Sea has a higher salinity level than the Pacific Ocean.

We walk through seedless Thompson grape vineyards that are so juicy I am tempted to squeeze the living daylight out of each one. Orchards bursting with citrus and date palms sit side by side. Gardens full of vegetables are soooo ready for the picking.

The ride back to our resort leads us through celebrity homes and hideouts with enormous date palms, Arabian horses and magnificent architecture are wrapped by the circumscribing mountains. 

After an exhiarating hiking and biking day I must say it was a "faultless" San Andreas Fault mountain biking tour.

— By Lena Hunt Mabra, Kansas City Correspondent.


Mountain Bike! Southern California (Book) by David Story, Laurie Leman and Chris Leman

Mountain Bike! Southern California (Book) by David Story, Laurie Leman and Chris Leman

Cyclists of all abilities will enjoy choosing from 100 rides depending on trip length and difficulty; part of Dennis Coello's America by Mountain Biking Series. 400 pages.


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