19th April 2016 Riverside, Ca to Indio, Ca 137.6 kms - 85.5 miles Up = 796m - Down = 1006m
April 19th 2016 - RIVERSIDE TO INDIO
OK – we are on our own now. With the California Highway Patrol not allowing bicycles on Interstate freeways the option of taking the I-10 was out. The rule is – you cannot ride on an Interstate Freeway if there is a suitable side-road running alongside - a "frontage road".
Don and I used googlemaps with the bicycle option to zoom in and plot our course for the day. We came up with a variety of bike tracks, suburban streets, rural streets etc – all avoiding the I-10 – but quite a complicated route, constantly changing sides of the I-10, and frequently crossing the railway line.
One thing we discovered didn’t help make it easier today was that our bike recorders are in kms as we think that way, but we printed the directions in miles. Lesson learn to ensure we use kms for both!!
We started off wonderfully along the Upper Santa Ana River Trail yet again which was lovely. We couldn’t quite find the correct off-ramp to get to E Washington Street. The first one seemed too soon – and then there was a long period before the next which made us assume we had gone too far. We stopped a fellow cyclist for help, but his GPS was playing up and we couldn't actually agree with where we were. At one stage a rabbit dashed across in front of Annie and almost straight into my front wheel!! I felt I had a life as I could very easily have been sent crashing to the ground.
Eventually we managed to get to E Washington and we meandered through a lot of suburban roads and eventually found the road that would take us to Beaumont. It was a winding road which frequently crossed the railway line. There was a fleet (about 12) maintenance railway “machines” travelling in the same direction as us – and it seemed, we were going about the same speed. So at each crossing – we had to wait for them to crawl across before we could proceed. This took quite a bit of time out of our day!!! When I asked one of the “stop/go” workers where the line went to, I was told “all the way to Chicago ma'm”.
Next section we were cycling through huge orange orchards – and as well as a lot of fruit still on the trees – the amount on the ground was phenomenal! I couldn’t resist, so my back pockets each had an orange put in them. I copped a bit of flak from my riding mates for that but later in the day I noticed they didn’t say no to one!!
After a winding section of road it straightened out alongside the rail line between Beaumont and Banning and it was nice cycling except sadly Annie picked up the first puncture of the ride. The sun was up and it was pretty hot, luckily it happened where there was shade!! We were impressed when Amtrak trains came through - we were metres from the line and they gave us big “toot-toots”. These trains seemed so looooooooong – it appeared to me there were 3 engines at the front and 2 at the back – and goodness knows how many carriages in between – those with containers were mainly two stories high.
It got hotter and hotter and we had to stop frequently for water. Today we had sent Pat on ahead to Indio, so we didn’t have the joys of the van carrying everything. We had a coffee break, and another stop, where we were able to top up our water supplies, but it was turning into a long hot day.
At Banning we followed googlemaps directions and discovered the road went through the Morongo Indian Reserve. At the gatehouse we were stopped and we were now allowed through!! What???? This sounded weird – why did Mr Google tell us this route? We biked down to by the I-10 and talked to a man at a business there who offered to put us in his pick-up and take us along the freeway to Main S where we could continue. He said he had frequently seen cyclists coming along the road we were on and that they could only be coming off the freeway – so we decided to give it a go as from our enquiries - there was no suitable "frontage" road!!
Up to this point we had been climbing all the way – so we were looking forward to the downhill stretch to begin so hopefully we could pick up time. The shoulder of the I-10 was wide – but littered with wrecked tyres, bolts, straps, etc. It was busy with trucks, but we were able to keep well enough away to the right and there was a wide “rumble-strip” between the road lanes and us. We started speeding along – and decided to continue as far as we could unless we saw a sign saying bicycles must exit! Things were going well and we were closing in on Indio when about 10 miles out – I punctured!! So annoying!! So alongside the freeway we (that means Don) started to fix the puncture. Not too far into the process a California Highway Patrol officer pulled up and informed us we shouldn’t be there!!! We explained what had led to our decision which he accepted but directed us off and on to Varner Rd to continue our journey. Fortunately we were only a few 100 metres from an off ramp. He ordered off us immediately not allowing us to fix the puncture even - but he was happy to pose for a photo with us – before we were on our way.
After my puncture was fixed, Varner Road proved to be a nice side-road which took us pretty much directly to our campground – the Shadow Hills RV Park – Indio where we met up with Pat. It was such a shame as it was just getting dark and we didn’t get to enjoy all of the wonderful facilities they had – swimming pool, spa etc – but after a long hot day the nice hot shower was VERY welcome. Pat had done some shopping locally so cooked us up a steak to have with salads. She was able to do this in a kitchen that was being used by people preparing for the Coachella Music Festival - a huge event that happened in a few days time.
Somehow with our mucking around - the planned 121km day ended up being a lot more - but we were hoping for smoother navigational days to come. I think we all crashed that night as it had been a long hot day.