Consider the ingredients necessary for the perfect Winter bicycle tour. A climate with typically dry weather and a break from harsh winters found elsewhere in North America. The roads have to be great for cycling. And to make it an Undiscovered Country tour, the location has to be, essentially, undiscovered—but not so undiscovered as to be without the comforts of civilization.
Amazingly, there is a region on the map that has the right mix of ingredients for the ideal Winter bike tour. Just a short distance away from the major urban areas of Southern California lies the Anza-Borrego Desert, a great dry basin ringed by high mountains. In the center of this large desert park is Borrego Springs, a “quaint desert resort town with no traffic and clean air”. Wide and empty roads stretch across the valley floor with mountain vistas in every direction. Two desert ecosystems merge in Joshua Tree National Park, an area abundant with diverse flora and fauna. Mild Winter weather, a quiet town, empty biking roads, great lodging and dining: these are the ingredients that make up an ideal Undiscovered Country trip.
And while cycling and relaxing daily through quaint desert resort towns makes for a wonderful winter tour, this trip also includes a healthy dose of adventure. Starting in Palm Springs, known as "the ultimate desert playground for outdoor adventure, arts and culture, gaming and entertainment", the route encompasses the luxurious outdoor adventure destinations of Palm Desert and Indian Wells, pays a visit to Joshua Tree National Park, cruises through the Coachella Valley to the Salton Sea—California's largest lake (and one of lowest places on the continent at 227 feet below sea level), and rolls through the Badlands of Anza-Borrego Desert to quaint Borrego Springs. For an exhilarating challenge with a spectacular view, the tour climbs out of the desert on a road known for its vistas as "the glass elevator".
If you like cycling rides in Winter without multiple layers of fleece and Gore-Tex, Undiscovered Country’s California Desert Escape was designed for you.
My husband and I just completed a weekend bike tour with UDC tours cycling thru the Wine Country of Santa Ynez Valley and we loved it. It was our first guided tour and we choose UDC because they specialize in California and all the reviews we read, had nothing but positives to say about the experience. The tour was based in Solvang at The Hadsten House; which offered very nice and comfortable lodging along with a very much appreciated outdoor hot tub and indoor pool. We met our guides, Laura & Daryl, on Saturday where we, along with the other 5 cyclists in our group, were greeted with a backpack filled with cycling related "goodies", fitted with top-notch Scott bikes, personalized water bottles, and a meticulous route map with turn by turn directions. Both Laura & Daryl rode with us the first day to make sure we were acclimated to our bikes and the area. Over the next two days, either Laura or Daryl rode with our group while the other followed in the "sag wagon" to offer support as needed or to drive ahead and set-up a nice picnic lunch. Really fabulous riding over the weekend included pedaling along beautiful backroads past vineyards and farms, all while enjoying breathtaking views in Ballard and Foxen Canyon. Yes, those views provide a scenic distraction while climbing (ascending) the canyons and a beautiful "reward" while enjoying the downward descents! Each day of very satisfying cycling ended with a stop in town at the Bulldog Cafe to regroup and swap stories followed by a really nice dinner out with the whole group at two area restaurants in Solvang: Cecco's and Mirabelle's. UDC tours takes care of just about everything while you're on the tour; and truly, seems to put a lot of thought into ensuring that each rider has a successful and enjoyable experience, which includes the little things like having an ample supply of energy snacks "just in case" (which I ended up needing the first day out). Our guides were great, knowledgeable, very warm and friendly. The quality of the bikes is top notch and scenery hard to beat! We are considering booking another trip in California next Fall and would not hesitate to recommend UDC for anyone considering a bike tour.
TripAdvisor Review November 2013