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.
I was looking for a challenging cycle tour and UDC really delivered. Each of the daily routes were expertly planned to cover classic climbs up (and down) the major grades of Marin, Sonoma and Mendocino counties. The scenery was often spectacular. The remote locales we traversed contrasted with the very civilized, superb lodgings and eateries awaiting us. Our guide, Michael Sojka, was attentive, helpful and personable. UDC's attention to detail is impressive.
TripAdvisor August 2012