Tag Archives: bicycling

TOUR D’OL’ BLUE EYES – A SINATRA DESERT BIKE TOUR

by Richard Fox

Frank Sinatra was my mom’s heartthrob as a teen. Not mine! Growing up in the 60’s and 70’s, listening to The Beatles, The Stones, Aretha and other greats on the radio, I would cringe when Strangers in the Night would interrupt the magic of the contemporary sound. Although I still cringe when I hear Doo-bee-doo-bee-doo, I’ve gained an appreciation of Ol’ Blue Eyes’ craft over the years, and some of my favorite songs to listen to are Summer Wind, New York New York, Luck Be a Lady, Fly Me to the Moon, The Girl from Ipanema, and even That’s Life.

I’ve also enjoyed watching him on TCM in some of his classic film roles like his Oscar winning From Here to Eternity, The Detective, The Manchurian Candidate, Guys and Dolls, Pal Joey, Can-Can, Anchors Aweigh, Robin and the 7 Hoods, and even Tony Rome.

 

 

 

From the 1940’s until a few years before he passed away in 1998, Sinatra was an integral part of the fabric of the Coachella Valley, a very special place for him. He had four wives, three homes and many of Hollywood’s elite surrounding him while here. Although known for his legendary temper, he was also a philanthropist, contributing to local charities, and performing benefit concerts with friends such as Jerry Lewis and Bing Crosby. His “Rat Pack” friends also spent time in homes in the area, including Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford and Dean Martin, although an infamous 1962 kerfuffle over a JFK visit created a rift between Sinatra and Lawford, who Frank blamed for JFK’s decision to stay at Bing Crosby’s place instead, after Sinatra had made elaborate preparations.

Many of the sites of Frank Sinatra’s points of interest lie along enCYCLEpedia Southern California safe(r) bike routes, so fans of the crooner can do a two-wheeled scavenger hunt to visit them. Clusters of sites are found in Palm Springs, where he first lived, and Rancho Mirage where he spent his later four decades. A bike ride combining all of these sites is about 33 miles long. Those not up for that distance can transport their bikes in between and do it in two separate rides of about 8 to 15 miles each depending on route. Route maps are posted on the enCYCLEpedia.net website Bonus Materials page for book owners, but you can of course find your own routes. Some outlying Sinatra features are not part of the tour, including his private Villa Maggio compound way up the Palms to Pines Highway in Mountain Center, and a couple of churches he was known to have visited in the valley.

Palm Springs

Let’s start spreading the news in downtown Palm Springs where you can find Sinatra’s star on the expansive Walk of the Stars along the main drag of Palm Canyon Drive. Frank’s is located at 135 N. Palm Canyon Dr. The star was awarded for his many achievements in a ceremony on January 15, 1994 that was attended by 2,000 people. It truly was his kind of town that day. You can find other stars listed on this website or i phone users can check out this special app.

Heading north on the side streets of the Old Las Palmas neighborhood you can ride past some of his fellow rat packers’ former homes including Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin and Peter Lawford.

At the northeast corner of Vista Chino and Indian Canyon is the Riviera Resort and Spa (1600 N Indian Canyon Dr), the site of charity shows Sinatra organized featuring buddies such as Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin. But, the best is yet to come…

From the Riviera Resort’s website.

 

Riding south like a Summer Wind into the Movie Colony where so many Hollywood stars kept homes, we visit Sinatra’s first valley residence. Twin Palms was designed by E. Stewart Williams and built in 1947 at 1145 Via Colusa (formerly addressed as 1148 E Alejo Rd). Frank lived here with his first wife Nancy, until their divorce in 1951, and then second wife Ava Gardner until their tumultuous split a few years later. The 4-bedroom, 7 bath, 4,500 square foot home features a pool shaped like a grand piano. This was indeed a party house with Hollywood’s A-list celebs frequenting its grounds. It was later sold, went into disrepair, was refurbished, and is currently available for rent. According to its website “Twin Palms Frank Sinatra Estate is available to rent for a variety of events including private vacations, corporate events, retreats and functions, private events and dinner parties. Commercial uses include photo, film, television, magazine and movie opportunities.”

From the sinatrahouse.com website.
View from 1145 Via Colusa

Frank was known to frequent many of the area’s bars and restaurants, but only a handful remain. You can ride by two of them in Palm Springs. Make your way south, perhaps on the Sunrise Way side path, to Hwy 111. Make sure to stick to the side paths along dangerous Hwy 111. A block east of Sunrise check out the Purple Room in Club Trinidad, now known for its popular Judy Garland impersonator show. Previously, as its website states, “The Purple Room is where Frank, Sammy, Dean, and their pals cavorted on and off the stage in the swinging 60s.”

From the Purple Room’s website

Next head west and then north through the Deepwell Estates district where former homes of Jerry Lewis, William Holden, and others are located. Exit via the Riverside Drive bike path and up to Baristo. At the northwest corner of Baristo and Ramon is Melvyn’s Restaurant & Lounge at The Ingleside Inn, 200 W. Ramon Rd, a hangout for Frank and buddies Jilly Rizzo, Patty Henry and Danny Schwartz, who’d sit at the bar and drink whisky. He also held his pre-wedding dinner to Barbara Marx here in 1976.

Melvyn’s as seen from Ramon Rd at Baristo.
From Melvyn’s website.

You’re now close to completing a Palm Springs loop of 9 or 10 miles. Check out other enCYCLEpedia rides to explore other areas and aspects of Palm Springs including a more comprehensive Vintage Star Tour.

The next set of stops is in Rancho Mirage, which lies east past Cathedral City, about 7 miles away. To connect the two areas you can use Tahquitz Creek Loop, then make your way to the Coachella Valley bikeway, aka the Whitewater River trail. In the future, the CV Link regional pathway will be a great option to get through Palm Springs and Cathedral City. You’ll wind up on the sidewalk along Hwy 111 or along Gerald Ford Dr, and end up at Wolfson Park, our starting point for the Rancho Mirage loop.

Rancho Mirage

Located south of the T-intersection of Da Vall Drive and Frank Sinatra Drive, the small but beautiful Wolfson Park was donated by Sinatra himself to the city, and allowed it to be named for Rancho Mirage politician Michael S. Wolfson. Several parking spots are available on the adjacent street. If these are full you can start the ride a couple miles east up Frank Sinatra Dr. Turn left at the first light on Thompson Rd and park after the “No Parking” signs cease.

Near the beginning of the sidewalk that is lined with Brail Trail interpretive signs, look for a pedestal with a button on top. When you push it, Frank’s voice resounds from a speaker next to the shrubbery, talking about this park and surroundings. Also find a fountain, a drinking fountain, benches and picnic tables, but no public restrooms here.

Frank Sinatra’s intro message is found here.
Blooming giant ocotillo in Wolfson Park.


Enjoy pretty vistas throughout Wolfson Park.

The ~1-mile Butler-Abrams bike trail heads south from Wolfson Park along the Whitewater levee. It dips down into the usually dry Whitewater River channel (closed during and after flows) and up the other side, ending at Country Club Drive.

The west portion of the Butler-Abrams trail is more pastoral.
If the Whitewater River is flowing, use Morningside Dr instead of the Butler-Abrams trail. The Frank Sinatra Dr bike path across the river will also be closed.

To the right up Country Club, across Highway 111, is Lord Fletcher’s restaurant, 70385 Highway 111, where Frank dined for 30 years in the peaceful upscale atmosphere, and held his 70th birthday party here in 1985. There’s no need to cross Hwy 111 since you’re probably not going to be eating at this dinner-only establishment during the ride. Update August 2020: Lord Fletcher’s is closed and for sale.

Interior of Lord Fletcher’s from their website.

Our next site is Frank’s final resting place, at Desert Memorial Park, 31705 Da Vall Drive at Ramon Rd, at the north end of Rancho Mirage, but just over the border in Cathedral City. Enter off Da Vall if the Ramon gate is closed. It is closed weekends, so there’s no reason to ride up there then except for the joy of the ride itself. By cutting this out, your ride will be about 8 miles instead of 15. There’s several options to get there (see enCYCLEpedia); the most direct is back up Da Vall Dr. Sinatra passed away in 1998, and his plain headstone simply reads “The Best Is Yet to Come.” From the Ramon Rd entrance, go straight up the road a couple of pedals and look to the right between markers B-8 and B-9. Frank’s and widow Barbara’s (d. 2017) graves are 4 and 5 stones up from the road. Fans leave mementos such as bottles of Jack Daniels or dimes on Frank’s grave at times in tribute.

Also buried around here are his prizefighter father Anthony Sinatra, his mom Natalie Sinatra who was killed in a plane crash en route to seeing Frank perform in Las Vegas, Frank’s buddy Jilly Rizzo, and composer of some of his standards Jimmy Van Heusen. Famed composer Frederick Loewe (My Fair Lady, Gigi) is also here. At the north end of the cemetery near a pretty monument garden is former Palm Springs mayor Sonny Bono’s stone, “And the Beat Goes On.”  If you’re out of water there are water fountains near the office, and possibly restrooms if open.  

Head back south on sidewalk paths that circumvent Mission Hills Country Club to reach a rare un-gated upscale community accessed via Los Alamos south of Gerald Ford Dr. Before the traffic light was installed this intersection was the site of the tragic end of Frank’s close buddy, night club owner Jilly Rizzo, who burned in his car after being hit by a drunk driver who fled the scene. Jilly lived in this neighborhood, which you can explore.

Many of the homes in the south portion of this area are along fairways of Tamarisk Country Club, including Frank Sinatra’s compound, coming up in the next section. Frank was a loyal member of this club for four decades, which opened in February 1952. Its website mentions that it welcomes “diversity,” alluding to the fact that four of the Marx Brothers and George Burns who were Jewish, helped found this club where other clubs such as Thunderbird were anti-semitic and banned Jews. A group of 65 movers and shakers started this all-inclusive club and never turned back. You can catch a nice glimpse of the course from the south end of Palm View Road.

If you’re interested in checking out historic homes and examples of mid century modern architecture in this area, here is a list. One outstanding example of a unique Tamarisk fairway home is the Val Powelson-designed home at 70551 Tamarisk Lane circa 1960:

Off of Tamarisk Lane is a cul de sac named “Andrews Circle.”  The Andrews Sisters owned the homes at the end of the block.  Exit this area via the thru streets such as Tamarisk Ln or Sunny Ln that lead back to Thompson Rd and Frank Sinatra Drive. Turn right on Frank Sinatra. Those comfortable riding on busy roads can cycle in the bike lane, since this will make it easier to find our last point of interest. Others can cross the street at the light and ride carefully in the winding sidewalk/bike path. In a half mile notice the gated entrance to a compound on the right at 70588 Frank Sinatra Drive. Those on the sidewalk will need to carefully walk across the boulevard to check it out after the Morningside gated entry, or just look at the photo of it below, and get a better glimpse of the property from the higher elevation. The plaque explains that Old Blue Eyes lived here from 1957 to 1995. The compound, not visible from the road, consists of a series of cottages named for his songs, a main 8,000 sf house, pool, a cottage with model trains, and other features. You can tour the property via this Huell Howser 1-hour PBS documentary. It is now owned by Canadian billionaire Jim Pattison, used for corporate meetings and retreats, but not open to the public.

The compound is along the westbound side of Frank Sinatra Dr, a half mile west of Morningside Dr.

Wolfson Park is just down the road, the starting point for this loop.

An option: The magnificent Sunnylands property is located nearby. Also known as the Annenberg estate, the home, grounds, and private golf course was developed by the Readers Digest magnate in 1966. It has seen an endless stream of dignitaries and celebrities over the years, including Frank Sinatra, who married Barbara Marx, his last wife, here in July 1976. The estate is open for tours (fee) with advance reservations. There is also a free facility consisting of a wonderful visitors center and elaborate gardens open to the public seasonally. Access by bike requires riding in the bike lane along busy Bob Hope Dr, where the un-signaled entrance is located halfway between Frank Sinatra and Gerald Ford Drives.

Sunnylands Visitors Center, gardens and cafe, open to the public several days a week in season.

If you’ve combined the ride with the Palm Springs loop, make your way back via the sidewalk along the northeast side of 111, reaching the Coachella Valley Bikeway off of the Date Palm bridge over the Whitewater channel. Another good connector is the continuous south sidewalk/bike path of Dinah Shore Dr, but just after the bridge over Whitewater channel you’ll need to make your way down a dirt path to 34th Ave to connect to Tahquitz Creek Loop. Or, do it “your way”! Just stay safe, please.

The film Sinatra in Palm Springs documents his life and times in the valley. Available to rent on Amazon Prime.

IRVINE, CA – BIKING THE GREAT PARK AND JEFFREY OPEN SPACE

Irvine is still expanding in leaps and bounds, and with that new development comes lots of new bicycling infrastructure that the city is famous for. In June 2019 the new Bosque trail system officially opened, part of the master development of the Orange County Great Park, formerly Marine Corps Air Station El Toro. The Jeffrey Open Space Trail project has been underway over the last decade, and the 2.4-mile portion north of I-5 is now opened. When completed to its full 5-mile length it will connect all the way to the San Diego Creek Trail (enCYCLE ride IR1) and the Quail Hill area (enCYCLE ride IR2). Currently that connection can be made via the side path along Sand Canyon Rd.

It’s fun to explore the huge Orange County Great Park, which is a work in progress, but with lots of completed sections containing athletic fields, some paved bike paths, and a giant orange tethered balloon that you can ride 400 feet into the air. With the Cypress Village Trail, the Portola Side Trail, and the Round Canyon Trail cyclists can now do a very scenic 11-12 mile loop bike ride, which encompasses enCYCLEpedia’s new ride IR4, downloadable on its website.

The Bosque trail system on Great Park lands had its grand opening featuring a “High-Five Chain” across its length on June 15, 2019.
Upper Bee and Bosque open space and trails sign.
The Bosque open space area with trails.
Exploring the Great Park, shown here on a former runway.
A pleasant bike path system on the west side of the Great Park connects to the Bosque trails.
A tunnel under a roadway along the Jeffrey Open Space Trail.
Colorful tile plaques describing the agricultural history of the area are found along the Jeffrey Open Space Trail.
A roadway overpass along the Jeffrey Open Space Trail.
The Portola Side Path that connects potions of the loop ride is very well constructed.
A new path through Round Canyon in the developing Portola Springs area connects Portola with Modjeska.

Top 10 Bike ‘n Brunch Rides – Best Patio Destinations from Palm Springs to La Quinta for 2018

Enjoying a meal al fresco on a perfectly sunny desert day is a sublime experience, but incorporating it into a bike ride adds beneficial exercise and fun. enCYCLEpedia presents our favorite combinations of easy scenic bicycle rides and al fresco dining experiences in the Coachella Valley.  Bike routes that include these restaurants as destinations are described in the book “enCYCLEpedia Southern California – The Best Easy Scenic Bike Rides” (2nd edition Oct ’17).  Don’t be ashamed to ride on the pretty landscaped valley sidewalks when it’s a safer option, but be extra careful anytime you cross a driveway or street.  More info:  enCYCLE’s website (Palm Springs area is Chapter 9).  Banner photo: Escena Lounge & Grill (courtesy of Sunrise Golf).

What to wear?  Most places mentioned are super casual. For the more upscale establishments like Spencer’s or those along El Paseo perhaps bring or wear a more appropriate frock. Golf course establishments typically require a collared shirt. Personally I carry a light Hawaiian shirt to wear over my tee!

1. Downtown Palm Springs

Palm Springs is THE place in the Coachella Valley to cycle on a beautiful winter’s day and find a delightful patio to savor a well deserved meal. Most of the patio restaurants are along South Palm Canyon Drive between Tamarisk and Baristo, but there are plenty others a block or two farther afield. Palm Canyon and Indian Canyon now have sharrows (bike symbols) in their left lanes between Alejo and Ramon. You can also cycle on parallel roads to the west that comprise the city’s bike routes, and just ride a block or two east to Palm Canyon to get to your patio restaurant of choice, including Cheeky’s for imaginative breakfasts, Blue Coyote or Las Casuelas Terraza for a festive al fresco Mexican experience, Lulu’s with varied menu and people-watching patio (photo), or Ruby’s family style diner, to name just a few. Or, you can pedal west on Baristo Road a few blocks to experience the fabulous outdoor patio of upscale Spencer’s. Along Indian Canyon Drive, at La Plaza are Bill’s, a pizza favorite (photo), Tyler’s, a burger favorite, and Farm for French breakfast/lunch. Wang’s Chinese restaurant’s popular Zen Patio is north of Ramon. Thai Smile for lunch and Oscar’s Cafe for breakfast/lunch are al fresco at Tahquitz Canyon, with Sherman’s Deli’s large patio another block to the east.  Tropicale’s patio is fun for an upscale brunch, located east on Amado. [enCYCLE ride: PS1,3]

2. The River at Rancho Mirage

Reached via the sidewalk bike trails along Hwy 111 or Bob Hope, the refreshing pools of The River complex are not a mirage, but will revive you on a warm day, and the choice for eats here are stellar. The fabulous waterfront patio of Acqua California Bistro is open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch. Other choices for lunch and dinner include franchises of Cheesecake Factory, Babe’s BBQ,  PF Chang’s, and The Yard House, each offering an al fresco option. [enCYCLE ride: RM2]

CAAquaCaliforniaWeb
Sidewalk path along Hwy 111 passes the Acqua California patio, other restaurants and a winter ice skating rink.

3. Old Town La Quinta

Granted it’s a newly-built old town, but it charms nonetheless. Access it south from Hwy 111 on Washington, right on Eisenhower, left on Tampico, and right on Bermudas one block. La Quinta prefers you to ride in bike lanes or specifically marked sidewalk trails, but if you ride courteously on the unmarked sidewalk paths you will rarely if ever be hassled by the authorities. We particularly like the patio of Stuft Pizza, where they have happy hour food prices from 3 to 6 pm. I love their Napa Valley Pizza (photo). For breakfast, Old Town Coffee is popular with cyclists where tables are set out on the square (photo). A few more options can be found around Old Town including The Grill on Main and Old Town Tavern. From Old Town you can ride uphill several miles on the scenic Bear Creek bike trail (photo), with some optional easy dirt paths at the top of La Quinta Cove.  [enCYCLE rides: LQ1,2,3]

4. Escena Golf Club, Palm Springs

A stand-alone destination, Escena Lounge & Grill at the Escena Golf Club is a popular Bike ‘n Brunch choice with delicious food served on an expansive patio with fabulous mountain views (photo below and banner photo). From the bike path along the west side of Gene Autry next to the airport (photo), pedal east on the south sidewalk of Vista Chino to the community entrance on the right, then ride another half mile to the golf club. Then try the first 2.3-mile section of the regional CV Link trail just beyond the Escena entrance along Whitewater Channel between Vista Chino and Ramon. There are also several casual restaurants with patios at Ramon and Gene Autry, including Panera Bread and Dickey’s BBQ.  [enCYCLE rides: PS4, PS3]

5. South Palm Springs

This very popular district is fun to cycle around on its residential streets lined with classic Palm Springs homes. Your brunching options are the scenic patio at South Course Restaurant of Indian Canyons Golf Club along Murray Canyon, or try some choices along Hwy 111 east of Sunrise. Manhattan In the Desert (east of Barona) has a delectably huge deli menu that spans all three meals, and a tempting bakery counter.  A detour north up South Palm Canyon from Belardo/East Palm Canyon brings you to popular El Mirasol for Mexican food. Koffi is a local hangout for coffee and light fare at El Camino Real and 111.  [enCYCLE ride: PS2]

CA_PS2_SouthCoursePanoWeb
View from South Course Restaurant at Indian Canyons Golf Course (Ride PS2).

6. El Paseo, Palm Desert

Cycle here either via Indian Wells Hwy 111 shoulder or sidewalk, or from the bike-friendly sidewalks in Palm Desert. From the north, Monterey, Portola and Cook intersect El Paseo. As in downtown Palm Springs, it’s best to ride on the less crowded parallel streets to the south and hop into the town for grub. Some popular patios in this area are California Pizza Kitchen, Daily Grill, Pacifica Seafood, Tommy Bahama’s, Café Des Beaux-Artes, or Wilma & Frieda in The Gardens. Palm Desert’s Manhattan in the Desert is tucked away at the east end of El Paseo. To the west of Monterey, Westfield Mall offers Stuft Pizza and Bobby Mao’s Chinese kitchen, each with a large mountain-view patio. Louise’s Pantry for breakfast/lunch is along the 111 frontage road across from Palm Desert’s new location of Bill’s Pizza, for fabulous pizza on a patio. [enCYCLE ride: RM2]

7. Desert Willow Golf Course, Palm Desert

The beautiful half-mile long sidewalk trail leading up the hill from the Desert Springs (ie Ralph’s) Shopping Center northwest of Cook and Country Club leads to the clubhouse of Desert Willow Country Club, an upscale city-owned golf course. Its Lakeview Terrace has a wonderful outdoor view patio and serves delicious food, perfect for your mid-ride meal. If you hanker for Chinese food, the patio at City Wok in the Ralph’s center is popular.  [enCYCLE rides: PD1, RM1,2]

8. Restaurant Row, Rancho Mirage

Cycle the bike sidewalk along Hwy 111 between Frank Sinatra or Country Club, or from Palm Desert, head west on either of those boulevards to the end. Las Casuelas Nuevas has a very popular patio for Mexican cuisine and an elaborate Sunday brunch, and Fisherman’s is the spot for an al fresco fish lunch or Sunday breakfast. We love to go to The Palms Cafe II for al fresco breakfast, especially when we sub a giant banana nut pancake for toast.  [enCYCLE rides: RM1,2]

9. Highway 111, La Quinta – Indio

A sidewalk path is now continuous along the south side of Hwy 111 from Indian Wells all the way through La Quinta to the Indio border so that you can extend your rides in La Quinta or Indian Wells to access plenty of al fresco dining options. Most are actually on the north side of the road, where the sidewalk has a couple of breaks. Choices start with Broken Yolk for breakfast and festive Las Casuelas Quinta at Washington. Across from In ‘n Out Burger at Simon is Pokehana for a healthy poke fix, Panera Bread, Chipotle and Habit Burger past Adams, and Pho Vu Vietnamese and IHOP after Dune Palms.  Mimi’s Cafe at the Costco entrance road has a small outside patio. For one of the finest garden patios in the desert follow the north sidewalk past Jefferson to Jackalope Ranch. [enCYCLE rides: LQ3, IW1]

CAJackalopeKarinBryan
enCYCLEpedia-inspired cyclists Karin and Bryan at Jackalope Ranch.

10. Indian Wells

If you ride on Indian Wells’ sidewalk path (once a designated bike path as shown in the photo) west adjacent to the south side of Hwy 111 toward the towering mountains you will reach Cook Street, across which is Eureka! Their semi-covered and fanned patio is the perfect stop along your bicycle exploration to enjoy fabulous gourmet burgers like the Fresno Fig (photo, below, shown next to enCYCLEpedia), salads and crafted brews. Continuing a bit farther west leads to El Paseo (#6 above). There are also lots of restaurants, some with patios, along Hwy 111 in the El Paseo area that you can access via frontage roads.  And those up for something more upscale can venture into some of Indian Wells’ resorts along the route, including Vue Grille at Indian Wells Golf Resort featuring a Sunday brunch splurge. [enCYCLE rides: IW1, RM2]

Grand Canyon South Rim – The Ultimate Easy-ish Scenic Bike Ride

By Richard Fox

Cycling Grand Canyon’s South Rim area used to be our little secret, but thanks to Bright Angel Bicycles rental bikes, there are now scores of cyclists along the roads and trails; most seemingly international visitors based on their languages.   Even with the added traffic it still is uncrowded, and the thrill of cycling with Grand Canyon views is unparalleled. West Rim Drive is closed to most vehicles (except handicapped, trams, and a few tour buses) during March – November, giving you an ultra wide and fabulous bike path that extends 7 miles from Grand Canyon Village west to Hermits Rest.  You can access all of the famous vista points that the tram stops at to offload bunches of tourists, but also have some awesome spots all to yourself along the route as well. If you get tired, hop on a bike-carrying tram at the designated stops.  Be warned that although it is an easy ride technically, there are some gradual grades, so if you’re not acclimated to the 7,000+ foot elevation, take it slow and easy or don’t attempt it if not in good physical condition. Also consider taking the tram up the first and steepest hill to the first stop. Or better yet, rent an e-bike.

Bikes are only allowed on a couple of sections of the paved Rim Trail, but not near any of the high-usage areas like between Grand Canyon Village and Mather Point. From the Village, the paved Greenway Trail that allows bikes weaves east through the forest, away from the rim and gradually uphill, reaching various features such as the two campgrounds’ (Trailer Village RV Park and Mather Campground) access roads, Market Plaza with its restaurants and grocery store, and ultimately the Visitors Center complex and bike rental facility.  After leaving the Visitors Center it reaches the rim for a spectacular treat of a couple of miles of amazing canyon vistas, ending at the trailhead for the Kaibab Trail. From there you can also pedal on the closed-to-most-cars road to Yacqui Point.

If you’re staying at the park campgrounds, you can take the Greenway Trail in either direction. The option of heading toward the Visitors Center and the Greenway rim trail that allows bikes just east of Mather Point is easy and very worthwhile. The other direction heads gradually downhill to Grand Canyon Village and the Hermit Rest road ride which requires more stamina.

For extra trail mileage, a new 6-mile path leads from the tourist village of Tusayan outside the park through the forest to the Visitors Center. It is mostly gravel, through the forest, and not the most wonderful experience.

Toward the west end of West Rim Drive there is an option to take the Greenway Trail that is a bit hillier but is closer to the rim.
Toward the west end of West Rim Drive there is an option to take the Greenway Trail that is a bit hillier but is closer to the rim.
Many dramatic opportunities await for a bite to eat!
Many dramatic opportunities await for a bite to eat!
West Rim Road runs through the pines and at times right along the rim, with access to all the scenic viewpoint.
West Rim Road runs through the pines and at times right along the rim, with access to all the scenic viewpoints.
A closed-to-cars road leads to Yacqui Point and connects to the east segment of the rim-side Greenway Trail that leads to the Visitors Center and Mather Point  -- at which point bikes are banned and the Greenway Trail continues away from the rim.
A closed-to-cars road leads to Yacqui Point and connects to the east segment of the rim-side Greenway Trail that leads to the Visitors Center and Mather Point — at which point bikes are banned and the Greenway Trail continues away from the rim.
Scenic cycling at its best - the flat rim-side Greenway Trail is open to bikes between the Visitors Center and the Kaibab Trailhead.
Scenic cycling at its best – the flat rim-side Greenway Trail is open to bikes between the Visitors Center and the Kaibab Trailhead.
The Grand Canyon trams are free and carry 3 bikes each.  You can use it to climb the first hill of West Rim  Drive, or shuttle between the most scenic areas.
The Grand Canyon trams are free and carry 3 bikes each. You can use it to climb the first hill of West Rim Drive, or shuttle between the most scenic areas.

Santa Fe Bike ‘n Brunch

By Richard Fox

Santa Fe, everyone’s favorite southwest Spanish colonial cultural mecca,  is a place to stroll and take in its unique ambience characterized by the recognizable Santa Fe style architecture, and highlighted by its delectably spicy southwestern cuisine.  The sprawling capital city features a central historic core that is the main attraction to millions of visitors.

Although cycling isn’t the first thing that comes to mind in association with Santa Fe, recent improvements in cycling infrastructure have created a very worthwhile biking experience for the easy scenic cyclist.  Explore the downtown core, where many  streets now have sharrows, and expand your ride on several bike trails that extend into the surrounding districts. Get a bike map from the City or on line or from this link: http://santafempo.org/documents/bikeways-map/ 

The central plaza is now closed to autos - and to bikes.  Come on Santa Fe!
The central plaza is now closed to autos – and to bikes as we discovered later. Come on Santa Fe!

Looks of interesting streets to explore in the old town.  This is Burro Alley.
Plenty of quiet interesting streets to explore in the old town. This is Burro Alley.

Santa Fe's cuisine is world renowned.  This enchilada dish from The Shed where we had lunch today is a delicious example.
Santa Fe’s cuisine is world renowned. This Santa Fe style enchilada dish from The Shed where we had lunch today is a delicious example.

Rail trails run through the restored Rail yard District.   A trail trail extends south several miles from here.   A short on-street route joins this trail with the River Trail, both close to the town center.
A paved rail trail starts at the restored Railyard District and extends south several miles, later turning to a dirt or gravel  trail for another 10 miles or so.  A short on-street route joins this trail with the River Trail, both close to the town center.

The City is restoring habitat along the Santa Fe River (more like a stream) and building a greenbelt that features the River Trail, currently about 2.5 miles long.  Note the aspens in the surrounding mountains.
Santa Fe is restoring habitat along the Santa Fe River (more like a stream) and building a greenbelt that features the paved scenic River Trail, currently about 2.5 miles long. Note the yellow aspens in the surrounding mountains.

Boulder, Colorado’s Fabulous Boulder Creek Trail

By Richard Fox

Home of the University of Colorado and the Buffalos, Boulder has grown into its own as an ultra popular place to live with a progressive slant and with one of the best bicycle infrastructures in the US.  Although automobile traffic has become an issue here, a series of bike trails connect various points of the city, most complete with underpasses to enable seamless cycling away from the roadways.  The highlight is the great Boulder Creek Trail, that follows Boulder Creek from beautiful Boulder Canyon west of town, through a scenic stretch of greenbelts,  the exciting downtown district, and out into the city’s eastern districts.  Connecting trails take the rider to many of the city’s features.  It is a great Bike ‘n Brunch ride than can result in between 10 to 25 miles of easy scenic cycling.

The Rockies are prominent on the trail heading west.
The Rockies are prominent on the trail heading west.

Lake along the South Boulder Creek Trail.
Lake along the South Boulder Creek Trail.

Many scenic bridges cross back and forth across pretty Boulder Creek.
Many scenic bridges cross back and forth across pretty Boulder Creek.

Underpasses such as this one downtown make riding an uninterrupted delight.  Historic Pearl Street and plenty of dining options await downtown.
Underpasses such as this one downtown make riding an uninterrupted delight. Historic Pearl Street and plenty of dining options await downtown.

The trail though beautiful Boulder Canyon turns to gravel about 1 mile up.
The trail through beautiful Boulder Canyon turns to gravel about 1 mile up.

Pausing downtown at the flood display.  The green monument shows various levels of historic floods.
Pausing downtown at the flood display. The green monument shows various levels of historic floods.

Seattle’s Alki Trail – Unsurpassed Beauty (on a clear day)

By Richard Fox

West Seattle’s Alki Peninsula sticks out into Puget Sound like a thumb, and offers the best views east to the Seattle skyline including the Space Needle and the waterfront districts from the cruise ship terminals to the shipyards.  The Alki Trail follows the shoreline of the peninsula providing the best views Seattle has to offer, from Mount Rainier, to Seattle, the Olympic Mountains and Puget Sound islands, and then Mount Rainier again.  The main part of the perfectly flat trail is only 3 miles long each way, most of which has separate paths for bikes and peds.  Dining choices abound, from the famous Salty’s, to a dining district with numerous water-view restaurants of all types. Alki Beach is one of the city’s most popular.   Access the area by car or transit via the West Seattle Bridge, or take your bike on the King County Water Taxi that leaves from the main Seattle waterfront.  Extend the ride to the west, by heading south on quiet waterfront streets, and a seaside sharrowed thoroughfare through a residential district.  To the east, trails lead on a separated bike path across a bridge that provides fabulous vistas, and an option to follow an on-road route to downtown and the waterfront district.  We typically ride halfway across the bridge to take in the view that can include Mt. Rainier.  On a sunny day the ride is so spectacular that you will stop frequently for photos.   It’s a great way to start or end the day, a fabulous bike and brunch ride, and at up to 15 miles with scenic extensions, a fairly good workout.

The water taxi takes you and your bikes between the Alki Trail and the Seattle Waterfront district.
The water taxi takes you and your bikes between the Alki Trail and the Seattle Waterfront district.

Most of the 3-mile portion of the main Alki Trail is nice separated for bikes and peds.
Most of the 3-mile portion of the main Alki Trail is nicely separated for bikes and peds.

Washington State Ferry and Space Needle, as seen from Alki Trail.
Washington State Ferry and Space Needle, as seen from Alki Trail.

Olympic Mountains beyond Puget Sound, looking west from Alki Trail.
Olympic Mountains beyond Puget Sound, looking west from Alki Trail.

Cycling east on the Alki Trail with Seattle skyline in the distance.
Cycling east on the Alki Trail with Seattle skyline in the distance.

Continuing around the peninsula to the west on surface streets.
Continuing around the peninsula to the west on surface streets.

Bike paths continue, here crossing a bridge over Puget Sound.
Bike paths continue, here crossing a bridge over Puget Sound.

Mt Rainier, seen from the bridge at the south end of the trail.
Mt Rainier, seen from the bridge at the south end of the trail.

Even at night the Alki Trail enchants.  This is a similar scene as the daytime shot of a ferry passing in front of the Space Needle.
Even at night the Alki Trail enchants. This is a similar scene as the daytime shot of a ferry passing in front of the Space Needle.

A Highflying Afternoon Bicycling Sidney, BC

We joined Pender Islanders John and Andy on their bike-to-Sidney (Vancouver Island) routine on this lovely August day. The cost of taking a bike on a BC Ferry is a fraction of the cost of taking a vehicle, and with the BC Experience Card there’s no extra charge for your bike. J&A are fully equipped with panniers to carry any groceries or other purchases, although we just took our rucksacks and our appetites for lunch. The new bike trail that circumnavigates Victoria Airport is a welcome addition, providing a very satisfying loop that extends the ride to the ocean on both sides of the Saanich Peninsula. On Thursday afternoons in summer, the Sidney Street Fair that closes Beacon Ave from 5:00pm is a fun way to end your discoveries before heading back to catch the ferry. We took the 1155am from Pender Isl to Swartz Bay near Sidney, and the 6:45pm return. For logistics check the Bicycling chapter in the Pender Islands Handbook (2nd Ed). To connect to the new airport loop trail, just cross Hwy 17 at Beacon and find the trail to the left, or cross the pedestrian bridge further to the south along the Lochside Trail, and ride through the neighbourhood to connect to the trail. Best of all, compared to the Gulf Islands, cycling on these routes is mostly flat on either bike trails or lanes, with only a couple of very manageable hills.  We rode about 24 km (15 miles).

Bikes are stored informally on the ferry.
Bikes are stored informally on the ferry.

John leaving the ferry ahead of the vehicles.
John leaving the ferry ahead of the vehicles.

The new Thai Corner on Beacon in Sidney featuring a Thai lunch buffet was excellent!
The new Thai Corner on Beacon in Sidney featuring a Thai lunch buffet was excellent!

The Sidney waterfront.
The Sidney waterfront.

An interpretive sign along the new trail around Victoria Airport.
An interpretive sign along the new trail around Victoria Airport.

Along the airport trail.
Along the airport trail.

Reaching Brentwood Bay on west side of trail.
Reaching Brentwood Bay on west side of trail.

Watching planes land from west side of trail.
Watching planes land from west side of trail.

Heading back on the pretty north side of trail.
Heading back on the pretty north side of trail.

Walking bikes through the huge Sidney street fair.
Walking bikes through the huge Sidney street fair.

Orca bike rack along Lochside Trail.
Orca bike rack along Lochside Trail.

Lochside Trail near Cedar Grove Marina returning to Swartz Bay.
Lochside Trail near Cedar Grove Marina returning to Swartz Bay.

Two Great Beach Rides on Each US Coast

It’s summer, the beaches are packed, and you can’t decide whether to hit the beach or go for a bike ride.  Well, you can do both on beaches where the sand is compact enough to support a comfortable ride.  Of course the off-seasons are best when the crowds are less, but these rides are doable any time of year.  Here I present four of my favorite beach rides, all  at beautiful locales where there are no paved trails adjacent to the beach.  On the west coast are Pismo Beach, California and Cannon Beach, Oregon.  On the east coast are Hilton Head Island, South Carolina and Daytona Beach, Florida.  If you have your own favorite beach ride, which should be at least 4 miles each way, please let me know!

Cannon Beach, Oregon. Even when most crowded, like here on July 4th, the wide beach is rideable...
CANNON BEACH, OREGON Even when most crowded, like here on July 4th, the wide beach is very rideable and the adjacent cute town is perfect for a post ride meal.

Even on crowded days you can find solitude along 5 miles of fabulous beach riding in Cannon Beach, Oregon.
Even on crowded days you can find solitude along 5 miles of fabulous beach riding in Cannon Beach, Oregon.

The firm sands of the Pismo Beach area support vehicles, however they are not allowed within the Pismo Beach city limits which much improves your lot.  Much longer rides are available if you're willing to ride farther afield alongside vehicles.
PISMO BEACH, CALIFORNIA The firm sands here support vehicles, however they are not allowed within the Pismo Beach city limits which much improves your lot. Much longer rides are available if you’re willing to ride farther afield alongside vehicles. Stop in for some famous clam chowder at Splash’s Cafe in town post ride, and see the migrating monarch butterflies at the state beach south of town in winter.

Miles of beautiful firm sand await at Hilton Head Island, a resort area in South Carolina.  Bike trails run along the main roads around town as well to transport you to your accommodation.
HILTON HEAD ISLAND, SOUTH CAROLINA Miles of beautiful firm sand await at this resort area famous for golf and tennis. Bike trails run along the main roads around town as well to transport you to your accommodation and the island’s restaurants.

I was skeptical about riding here because of the popularity of driving cars on the beach, however they are relegated to the high tide area leaving the nice firm low tide zone to bikes and beachgoers. Some sections are even off limits to cars but bikes can carry on.
DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA    I was skeptical about riding here because of the popularity of driving cars on the beach, however they are relegated to a sand road along the high tide area leaving the nice firm low tide zone to bikes and beachgoers. Some sections are even off-limits to cars but bikes can carry on. And of course there’s plenty of places to eat on the adjacent strip.

The Sammamish River Trail in Seattle to Wineries and a Brewery

In Seattle, long connected riverside trails create a cycling paradise, especially when the weather is fabulous, like it is most of the summer. While the Sammamish River Trail that runs between Bothell and Redmond is not as spectacular as coastal trails, it provides 11 uninterrupted miles through rural landscape along a pleasant though stagnant river. In Bothell it connects to the Burke

Sammamish: One of the many trails along pleasant rivers in the suburbs of Seattle.
Sammamish: One of the many trails along pleasant rivers in the suburbs of Seattle.

Typical section, Sammamish River Trail.
Typical section, Sammamish River Trail.

Chateau Ste Michele Winery and amphitheater.
Chateau Ste Michelle Winery and amphitheater.

Columbia Winery is another destination in the cluster of facilities.
Columbia Winery is another destination in the cluster of facilities.

Red Hook Brewery's patio is a great lunch stop along the trail.
Red Hook Brewery’s patio is a great lunch stop along the trail.

Gillman Trail that leads west all the way to Puget Sound, and in Redmond’s Marymoor Park it connects to a trail (currently being paved) along the east side of Lake Sammamish. Plenty of dining options are available in Redmond and Bothell, however the highlight is at Mile 5.5 in Woodinville where the Red Hook Brewery, Columbia Winery and the magnificent Chateau Ste Michelle Winery (& amphitheater) are accessible via a short spur trail. This is also a popular cycling destination from Seattle via the Burke Gillman Trail to the Sammamish.