Note: If you plan to ride mtb in Palm Desert, I highly recommend arm warmers and leg warmers for protection against cactus & sharp bushes. My arms and legs looked like I got into a cat fight.
Note #2: Despite running out of water on day 1, Tony still refused to slap a second cage on his bike. (Tony, check your mailbox, I'm sending you something).
Note #3: If you don't have tubeless, stay home.
Needless to say, the next morning, we were very cautious with our route selection. None of us were up for another epic day in the heat and our legs were still burning from the effort the previous day. But more importantly, we couldn't let the wives see us get lost again. We spent most of the morning hydrating with Diet Coke and water and more Diet Coke. I was just trying to get to the point where I could pee again. I must have lost 5 lbs of water weight from dehydration from day 1.
With Jamie as our guide, we looked over the maps & guide books and mapped out a shorter ride that only had a 2.5 mile climb on the jeep road before it turned into single track. 2.5 miles? that would be a piece of cake, right?
The day before, we were so anxious to ride that we left right from the house and rode from town on our single speeds up the pavement to the trail head. This day; however, we threw our bikes into the mini van and drove to the trail head. I'm not a big fan of mini vans but I'll admit they are very handy. 4 guys and 4 bikes all inside the van and enough cup holders for a small army.
We found the trail head and started the ride. within minutes, we found ourselves on a steep, sandy, nasty climb that had us second guessing ourselves. The thing is, in Palm Desert, every ride begins with a grunt. I guess it's how they roll in So Cal. These grunts seem to weed out the weak and spoiled which is probably why we saw only 5 other bikes the entire 3 days of riding .
After 1.8 miles of lung busting climbing, we noticed a trail head which could have been what we wanted (Goat trail I think is what it's called) but we decided to keep climbing until we got to 2.5 miles (as described in the guide book) just to be sure we didn't take another wrong turn. The problem was, we never saw another trail until mile 4. After working our way to the 4 mile marker, turning around seemed silly. We topped out at the "oasis" where we made the critical decision yesterday to go left instead of right. I couldn't help but laugh. To think we could have stayed right and had 4 miles of downhill into town instead of 27 miles of hellish climbs.
After Jamie and Tony double checked the maps, we decided to gamble and try the Hahn Trail which started from the Oasis at the top of the climb. We had no idea where the Hahn trail would take us but it looked pretty good.
The Hahn trail took us on a short climb to an overlook. The overlook revelaed a huge single track downhill loaded with switchbacks. We weren't exactly sure where this huge downhill would take us but it would have been a sin to not ride it. Every few minutes we would stop, regroup, and look down at the valley floor below and shrug. Someone would throw out the comment "I'm sure if we had to climb back out, it wouldn't be that bad" or "look at all the tire tracks, this must be a popular ride. We should be okay". Not knowing if it was a mistake to go all the way down. It would have meant a brutal climb back out despite our attempts to rationalize. At one point, we had stopped to discuss our options again, and we noticed there were only 3 of us now. Jon couldn't help himself and he took off downhill and never looked back to see if we planned to follow. I can't blame him. I think we all felt that we had earned the right to some sweet downhill after all the climbing we had logged. The rest of us watched him go down and down, weaving back and forth in and out of switchbacks until he disappeared into the valley below. At that point, we were all committed. No turning back now.
We got lucky. The downhill dumped us into a wash which rolled along the valley floor until we hooked back into the Goat Trail (our original planned route for the day). We eventually connected back to the jeep road. Jamie wanted more and he went exploring while the rest of us worked on our sun tan. 5 minutes later, Jamie came back and we coasted down the road back to the car.
The Hahn trail would make its way into day 3. It was THAT good.