18.7 mi / 9.6 mph / 1294 ft. climbing
Home: Lake Perris State Recreation Area hiker/biker site
With the decision to move on having been made, the actual departure day was mostly mechanical. With some newly-acquired items (like an electric heating pad for Rett’s back), and full loads of leftover food, plus water, we could use the bathroom scale to finally know how much our loaded bikes actually weigh. The result: 107 lbs. for Rett’s bike, and 126 lbs. for mine. Yikes. That helps explain the physical strain on Rett’s muscles and ligaments!
We took San Timoteo Canyon Road out of town, a shoulderless rural road that a local cyclist had warned us against when we headed that way on a preview/training ride a few days back. Rett’s chiropractor, a triathlete, had given us the opposite impression, and our weekend training ride wasn’t too bad, but we hit some bad luck with Tuesday afternoon traffic backing up behind us in areas where it was difficult to pass, which then led to steaming drivers further back in the line squealing into oncoming traffic to pass us and the cars in front of them, making for a fairly terrifying experience that vindicated the local cyclist’s warning.
But while the psychological side of the ride was a strain, Rett did an admirable job physically powering herself up the steep hill that took us over the pass into the Moreno Valley. All of the exercises she’s been doing to activate her gluteal muscles seem to have paid off, giving her an extra source of power she hadn’t been utilizing to her full advantage before.
Riding conditions got a bit better on the other side of the pass, and while we’re in a pattern of hot weather and Santa Ana winds, it’s so dry (10% humidity), and in our area the winds were light, that the early February riding felt like a pleasantly warm summer day.
Lake Perris is a manmade lake in the middle of scrubby desert in the middle of the generally-scrubby Inland Empire, so I didn’t have high expectations for the campground in the state park surrounding the lake. But it was a close destination to keep our mileage low, and supposedly had a hiker/biker site, (which seemed weird for an out-of-the-way place not near any biking routes), so it would seem silly to not check it out.
And once we crested our final hill into the park, we were amazed by the beauty of the surrounding rocky hills and distant mountains, and the remote feel made it unbelievable that we’d just been in a suburban grocery store a few miles back.
The campground was so quiet and chill that the hiker/biker site being located right next to the dump station wasn’t even a big deal. Obviously we were the only ones at the hiker/biker site, and there wasn’t even a way to register; they just trusted us to pay up when the office was manned in the morning. So different from the packed, regimented coastal parks we’d been at previously.
Rett cooked up some Mexican dinner, and we had some celebratory beers. Celebration because the day had made nearly all our fears from the days before evaporate into the desert air. Rett’s body held up well, and she said she’s so glad that we’re bike touring again! Camping for the first time in nearly two months felt great, and made us wish that we’d come to hang out at this nearby park sometime sooner over the previous six weeks.
It all just felt so relaxing, in a “summertime camping-excursion” way that most of our previous camping had not. Some is because the two months that have elapsed since our last night in a tent had given us nearly an hour more of daylight. And some because the day’s 83-degree high temperature meant I never needed to bundle up in my down jacket, even well after-dark. And some because the dryness meant that there was no concern about getting things covered to protect them from condensation. Overall it made us realize how earlier camping up the coast had been a constant rush to avoid and protect against multiple forms of impending doom: dark, cold, and wet. All manageable, but all of that adds to stress and prevents relaxation. So thank you Lake Perris for reminding us what fun camping (and bike touring) can be!