Tag Archives: La Quinta

Coachella Valley Safer Bike Route Alternatives at Locales of Fatal Bike Accidents

by Richard Fox Author, enCYCLEpedia Southern California

While bike lanes are always welcome on roadways, they don’t guarantee cyclists’ safety, especially on high-speed boulevards where they are not sufficiently separated from traffic lanes. All too often distracted or impaired motorists swerve into the lanes and collide with cyclists with disastrous consequences. In the Coachella Valley of the Southern California desert, cyclists that have the need for speed have no good off road options compared to other metro areas, and are relegated to ride on these dangerous byways.  The CV Link regional trail, when completed, will help improve that situation.

More casual cyclists, like those who ride our enCYCLEpedia offerings, can enjoy a much safer alternative in this region. Many of the valley’s sidewalks have been designated as bike paths and are a delight to ride on, with beautiful landscaping, and in the areas with large gated communities, long uninterrupted stretches. There’s no reason for a casual cyclist to risk being hit by a speeding car on the 55-mph boulevards when there’s a perfectly good sidewalk bike path adjacent. However, bike paths come with their own set of hazards, and cyclists must ride defensively, using extreme care at every crossing of a road or driveway. Attention to obstacles is also important, especially in unfamiliar territory, and although sprinklers can be refreshing on a hot day, they can also make the path slippery in places. Helmets are also still highly recommended on any bike path.

I just added a new ride, RM3, to the enCYCLEpedia family of rides, comprised of 10+ miles of beautifully landscaped sidewalk loops around the Mission Hills Country Club area of north Rancho Mirage. Along that route alone there have been 3 fatal bicycle accidents in the adjacent roadways in recent years. That inspired me to look up other fatal bike accidents to see whether there were alternate off-road paths adjacent or safer routes nearby. Not to say that the victims would have selected to ride on sidewalk paths versus the roadways, but it illustrates that for the casual cyclist, safer options are available. I hope and pray that no additional incidents occur in the future; enough is enough. Following are some of the reported fatal accidents since 2007 where safer alternatives exist:

Too many ghost bikes have been installed around the valley, like this one for William Campbell.

March 25, 2019:  Alberta snowbird Paul Jackson, 67, riding along the Hwy 111 shoulder near Cook in Indian Wells, crashed into a parked minivan. What resembles a bike lane is actually just a wide shoulder with parking allowed. Sidewalk bike trails run along both sides of Hwy 111 (enCYCLE ride IW1). Bike riding on the sidewalk paths are “functionally allowed” in Indian wells (i.e. cops will not hassle well behaved cyclists). The city removed the Bike Route signs along the south sidewalk path a few years ago, most likely for liability reasons. Extending the CV Link regional path through Indian Wells would get a lot of cyclists off both the roads and sidewalks, but the city has banned CV Link within its boundaries.

Indian Wells Hwy 111 south sidewalk path was formerly a signed bike trail, as shown below, but the city un-designated it. The shoulder along Hwy 111 is not a designated bike lane and parking is allowed.

March 23, 2019: This is not the Coachella Valley, but is a nearby Riverside County enCYCLE  ride used as illustration:  Family man and outdoorsman Brian Sabel, 52, was the victim of an early morning hit-and-run in an ample bike lane along beautiful and historic Victoria Avenue in Riverside. This road is very popular with road cyclists and seems like a safe place to ride.  However, enCYCLE ride R2 uses the adjacent paved Rosanna Scott Bike Trail instead, which is much safer.

The bike lanes along Riverside’s historic Victoria Ave are very popular with cyclists.
The lesser-used Rosanna Scott Bike Trail adjacent is a safer alternative.

December 13, 2018:  William Campbell, 32, a local avid cyclist, was struck in the Ramon Road bike lane near Rattler in Rancho Mirage. New enCYCLE ride RM3 is along a wide sidewalk path adjacent to the bike lane, although the path does not continue east past Los Alamos.

William’s memorial is adjacent to the Ramon Rd bike lane he was hit in. A nice sidewalk path makes a safer alternative through here.

May 14, 2018: Diana Lynn Young, 61, was struck in the bike lane of Country Club Drive in front of the Marriott Desert Springs resort in Palm Desert where she worked. enCYCLE rides RM1, RM2 and PD1 all use the beautifully landscaped sidewalk bike paths available on both sides of Country Club through there.  They continue for miles in both directions.  I sometimes rode in the bike lanes through here to get a good sprint going, until this incident.

The beautiful sidewalk paths surrounding and into Desert Willow Golf Course (shown here) make a safer more scenic alternative to riding along Country Club.

April 2, 2018:  BC Snowbird Peter Harvey, 74, was hit in the bike lane on Bob Hope Drive near Ginger Rogers in Rancho Mirage.  New enCYCLE ride RM3 is along the pretty designated bike/golf cart path along the west side of Bob Hope between Gerald Ford and Dinah Shore.

A typical sidewalk bike path in this area. This is actually around the corner on Gerald Ford.

June 26, 2017:  Larry Lee Ortner, 81, hit a parked landscaping truck when gliding down the Avenida Bermudas hill in La Quinta Cove.  While this seems to be a safe road to ride on, always watch out for what is in front of you, even in a bike lane. We prefer to ride both up and down the paved Bear Creek Trail (enCYCLE ride LQ1) in The Cove instead to avoid vehicular traffic and enjoy the great scenery in both directions.

Scenic Bear Creek Trail in La Quinta Cove.

February 7, 2015: Todd Barajas, 52, was struck while riding late at night on Hovley Lane near Corporate Way, where there is no bike lane. However, there is an ample sidewalk path along the north side of the road. This is an alternate route to Country Club when riding enCYCLE ride RM2.

January 6, 2015:  Rose Peters, 73, a cycling enthusiast who’d ridden cross country several times and was using a hand-cycle because of hip replacements, was broadsided while riding in the Hwy 74 bike lane in Palm Desert by a vehicle turning left onto Mesa View, which is one of the routes to The Living Desert.  enCYCLE’s ride in that area (RM2) uses Hwy 74’s frontage road and corresponding paths rather than busy Hwy 74, but that still involves side street crossings that require extra caution because of turning vehicles.

There are a lot of less-busy options than Hwy 74 to ride to Palm Desert’s Living Desert.

November 30, 2012: Corey Holley, 38, was struck along South Palm Canyon at Palmera (near Stein Mart). This road is not safe.  Much better alternatives now exist along South Belardo Rd to the west between downtown and South Palm Springs, or through the Deepwell District (enCYCLE rides PS1, PS2).

Paths like the new CV Linker near Demuth Park and other new infrastructure provide more and more options to stay off dangerous roadways in Palm Springs.

June 2, 2012: Gerald Weiss, 52, a well respected physician and family man, was hit on very dangerous Fred Waring Drive west of Eldorado, in traffic lanes after dark. Indian Wells lost a lawsuit because the road was determined to be unsafe, and as a result erected signs banning bikes along there. It’s not an enCYCLE recommended stretch because the sidewalk alongside Fred Waring between Eldorado and Cook is narrow, though it still is rideable. We detour south, down Class II Eldorado to the 111 sidewalk paths, and back up on the Cook sidewalk path to avoid this stretch that CV Link would otherwise bridge if not banned in Indian Wells (rides IW1, RM2).

From the Eldorado Bridge, showing where CV Link would be an alternative to the dangerous stretch of Fred Waring Dr where bikes are banned, in the background.

April 8, 2012:  Donald McCluskey, 49, was on Da Vall waiting at the red light to cross south past Ramon in Rancho Mirage when a minivan heading north blew through the red light, was hit by a westbound vehicle on Ramon, and overturned onto McCluskey and the vehicle next to him.  Our new ride RM3 uses the east sidewalk of Da Vall at that location on both sides of Ramon, which would have been out of the line of fire in this case. However, in situations with sudden catastrophic vehicle crashes, cars can just as easily end up on a sidewalk or bike path, so vigilance at all times can’t hurt.

Da Vall sidewalk path near Ramon.

December 4, 2010:  Joseph P. Szymanski, 56, was the victim of a hit-and-run midday while riding westbound in the ample bike lane on 54th between Madison and Jefferson in La Quinta.  It would seem like a safe road to ride on, but I guess not.  We use the pretty landscaped sidewalk along the south side of 54th for enCYCLE ride LQ2, and pay careful attention if sprinklers make the sidewalk wet and slippery.  

Many La Quinta boulevards have ample bike lanes, but we opt for the sidewalk paths alongside them when riding between Old Town and Lake Cahuilla Regional Park, its RV park shown here.

March 7, 2007:  Athlete Kim Raney, 26, on vacation from Washington, fell off her bike and was hit by a truck while riding on Hwy 111 in Cathedral City.  enCYCLE feels Hwy 111 is too dangerous to ride on.  All of our rides that encounter Hwy 111 are either on sidewalk bike trails alongside it, or via alternate routes.  This includes PS1 – PS4, CC1, RM1, and RM2. The CV Link path will add some great alternatives to riding along Hwy 111 for all cyclists, although it is hindered by its boycott by the cities of Rancho Mirage and Indian Wells.

The completed 3-mile section of CV Link in Palm Springs/Cathedral City is a model of things to come.
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Desert Trip Music Festival By Bike

By Richard Fox, Author, enCYCLEpedia Southern California – The Best Easy Scenic Bike Rides

It was hyped as the biggest music festival since Woodstock,  and this baby boomer who grew up on Rock and Roll and just barely missed Woodstock (my parents wouldn’t let my older brother take me at 12 years old to the venue that was 60 miles away) was reeled in hook line and sinker. My partner Steve and I live in Palm Desert, and have resisted going to Coachella and Stagecoach over the years, but I couldn’t pass up this amazing lineup, even though I had seen them all before so couldn’t call it a “bucket list” event.  I purchased reserved seats for Weekend One when they went on sale in May at $1,100 (incl. fees) each. Although not general admission, they were the “cheap seats” in the grandstands, compared to the $1,700 seats closer up. General Admission tickets were around $400, but we didn’t want to have to arrive early and wait in the hot sun to get a good seat, which were all inferior to the reserved seats, the stage being just a blip in the distance for them.  All summer I wondered if I had made a mistake and been a victim of hype spending so much money on one concert festival. As it turns out, it was all worth it, as we had the most enjoyable weekend in recent memory.

deserttripticketboxLogistics of getting to a massive event (70-80,000 folks expected) was a concern, but as avid casual cyclists we decided to try and ride our bikes to the event. The venue maps that came in the Desert Trip box with the tickets (along with the 3D view master) showed designated color-coded routes and bike parking areas; it looked simple. On Day 1, we visited friends that live near the northeast corner of the venue, left the car there and biked in.  It was a nice and flat ride, only a couple of miles.  However none of the many people directing traffic knew where to direct bikes.  There was supposedly a “Yellow Path” starting near Madison and 49th, but we never found it.  Instead, we rode with cars through the very dusty dirt Platinum lot, for those that had purchased the $1,700 tickets. We were told to lock our bikes to a fence near the venue entry, and we went in with the VIP ticket holders, a short distance from the main venue.  Security was tight, with no liquids allowed, similar to airport security, only empty bottles with water fill up stations inside. They had metal scanners and guards with wands.  I was glad for the extra security, as this event would seem to be a high profile target.

Once inside we saw a row of diverse food stands, all with long lines.  We got large slices of Spicy Pizza for $7 each, which were delicious and turned out to be one of the best values in the venue.  Our seats were in the north grandstands,  about 2/3 back and 1/3 up in the giant structure.  I was disappointed that the floor section was so wide that the grandstands were much farther from the stage than in a typical arena.  Even those with $1,700 grandstand seats were not that close.  However, we liked our position being able to see the stage, all the giant screens, fireworks that erupted at the end of each night’s performances, and across to the entire venue, the psychedelic lit carousel, desert sky, and the moon after dark.  We needed binocs to see the performers in person, although they were shown on the giant screens, except for Roger Waters’ Pink Floyd show, where all the front screens were reserved for special effects; only the screens facing the general admission section showed the performers. The sound was great, loud but not deafening, and the seats were padded with backs and fairly comfortable.

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From the grandstands, looking across past the rear floor seats toward the general admission section and carousel.

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Looking toward grandstands and the stage.

Bob Dylan started on time, much to the chagrin of many who were caught in gridlock traffic on the first night. Even some of the shuttles were stuck for hours, with people missing part or all of the Dylan show.  Neither of us are big fans of Dylan’s voice, although I respect his songwriting and poetry as one of the all time greats.  I was hoping he wouldn’t do the set list of his current tour, which included Sinatra covers, and he didn’t.  Instead he gave us many of the classics including Rainy Day Women #12 & 35 (and yes the smell of pot wasn’t uncommon in the venue).  Interesting black and white videos were displayed on the three huge building-sized screens behind the stage, showing 60’s scenes, cars, highways (to Highway 61) and lots of birds. He never spoke to the audience, and just left the stage when he was done, although those in front realized what was happening and generated enough applause to call him back for a Masters of War encore (the lucky Weekend Two people got Like a Rolling Stone instead, but not with Mick Jagger, a duet that was on my wish list and even seemed like a requirement for this event! The Stones did a great version of it on their Stripped acoustic live album). During the first break between acts, I was glad that Golden Voice had provided enough high end air conditioned bathroom trailers so that there was no waiting.  Food lines were once again long, but soon enough we had spent $27 on a couple of tacos and bowl of chile verde from the Jackalope Ranch stand, putting our food total for the evening at $41.

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The Desert Trip app provided photo frames. This is looking at the stage from our seats.

The Rolling Stones came on next with a flurry of flashing lights and “Ladies and Gentleman the Rolling Stones!” announcement. Mick Jagger was in top form and the show proved to be phenomenal.  I melted hearing the cowbell intro to Honkey Tonk Woman, and was blown away by the back to back Gimme Shelter with an amazing female vocalist pitching in, and Sympathy for the Devil, with Mick in his smoking jacket backed by a huge devilish pulsating video screen.   Encores included a choir singing the intro to You Can’t Always Get What You Want, and of course Satisfaction.  I went away thoroughly pleased with our first day of Desert Trip.  We exited easily, hopped on our bikes, and rode through the parking lots, along the closed lanes of Monroe, and back to our car in our friends’ driveway.  The ride back was much easier and less stressful since we knew where we were going and didn’t have a concert deadline. We were then caught in about 15 minutes worth of traffic backups in the car getting out of the area,  not too bad.

On Day 2 we decided to ride our bikes directly from Lake Cahuilla Regional Park, where we were staying in our RV. (Featured photo, Steve with Desert Trip T-shirt getting ready to leave). We reserved a spot as soon as rumors of the festival emerged, as this camp books solid during festivals, and even has a shuttle stop.  Although 5 miles away and not as convenient as staying in the RV on site, the cost of $120 for 4 nights contrasted to $1,000+ for staying at the venue with electric hookups. Lake Cahuilla is a public park, whereas most of the private campgrounds in the region gouge for Coachella festival weekends. Tent campers, however, can stay in a 10’x30′ spot at the venue for tent and car for $100, although you can’t take your car out for the 4 days and have to rely on shuttles (or bike!) to get around the area or use the venue’s general store for supplies.

It was 98F on Saturday when we rode in to the festival around 4-5 pm.  We rode slowly, mostly on safe sidewalks along Madison Street with shade, and it worked out well, we weren’t drenched in sweat upon arrival.  The “Green” ped/bike route to the venue starting at Madison and 52nd was easy to follow, although the route was on packed sand and grass, fine for our Townies but no picnic if you had a skinny-tired bike.  We had to take our bikes through a preliminary security checkpoint (water, food and alcohol allowed since it’s the security level for the campgrounds), then continued riding.  We locked our bikes to a row of bike racks located where they were labeled on the venue map, and started walking.  After a while we saw a sign that said “Bikes This Way.”  It turns out the bike parking area for the Green Path was just outside the main venue entrance.  We could have saved about a quarter mile of walking had we known from any of the employees that watched us lock our bikes there, or if the map had been labeled properly. After the concert though, the way was so packed with pedestrians that we would’ve had to walk our bike much of the way anyway.

We wandered around the grounds. There was not a whole lot to do besides buy food or merchandise, ride the ferris wheel, or visit the giant rock and roll photography exhibit tent, which had a long line to get in.  Since the food stand lines were fairly short around 5:30, we spent $26 on a Vietnamese Bahn Mi sandwich and a way overpriced bowl of fried rice.

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Classic albums to pose next to.

Neil Young’s show started 30 minutes later than the advertised 6:15 start time.  Neil and his band Promise of the Real were incredible. Neil was in top voice as he played a mix of classics, especially from the Harvest album, a thrilling 22 minute superjam to Down by the River, and several newer well done socially conscious songs, ending with Keep on Rocking in the Free World.  During intermission we had another slice of Spicy Pizza (food total now $40 for the evening) and got together with a childhood friend that I used to go to lots of concerts with in the 70’s, and his wife. I hadn’t seen them in 25 years but had recently re-connected via Facebook.  It was apropos and fun to reminisce about old times during this monumental celebration of classic Rock and Roll, really adding to the total experience of the weekend.

Steve and I had seen McCartney in 2002, which was one of the biggest concert thrills ever, it was like being at a Beatles concert.  This time though his voice had weakened significantly.  It was still great to hear the master Macca do his songs from A Hard Days Night to Blackbird and Band on the Run, sing along to Hey Jude, and watch all the special graphics and the explosions to Live and Let Die, but the highlight was when Neil Young came on stage to duet on A Day in the Life/Give Peace a Chance and Why Don’t We Do it in the Road.  This was the only collaboration during Week One, despite rumors of guest stars like Eric Clapton and Bono.  Guest stars weren’t needed though, the shows were great just as they were.  Weekend two attendees were treated to Rihanna singing a duet with McCartney.

By the time we had walked all the way to our bikes and gotten out of the venue and onto Madison Street heading south, it was past 1:00 AM.  I was concerned about riding in the bike lanes at that hour on a Saturday night, so I stuck to the sidewalks, which was a bit of a challenge at night, but doable with my bike light.  Steve got fed up and just rode the bike lanes.  We found it a “moment of zen” to have just ridden our bikes back and forth to the show with no vehicles, although we were very tired after the long day/night and not a lot of sleep the night before.

On Day 3, we spent the day with my childhood friends, having a lovely brunch at Lulu’s in Palm Springs. Temps were the warmest yet, near 100F, helping sway our decision to forget the bikes and just carpool with our friends from their AirBnB rental in Palm Desert. They had found easy access to Lot 2A (free with admission) by going south on Jefferson and turning left on 50th Street, and we got in around 4:00pm with no traffic.  The walk from there along the Red Path was long, but a good way to burn off some calories.  For those not up for walking, bicycle cabs provided rides along the path.  Once inside, the line to the photography exhibit was very long once more, but then someone came by and said “There’s no waiting if you go in the side entrance.”  So we did. It was an extensive and fascinating exhibit of all the performers from the 60’s to the present.

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Old friends Elizabeth & Gary pose as part of Pink Floyd.

We explored the food booths behind the General Admission area, which were even more interesting than those behind the grandstands.  Lines were about 10 minutes long, and we had a delicious chicken aoli sandwich and date bacon whole wheat flatbread ($27).

This was my favorite day of music.  The Who played all greatest hits including several songs in a row each from Quadraphenia and Tommy, most of my favorite Who album, Who’s Next, and a bunch of 60’s oldies. Roger Daltrey hit almost all of his trademark notes, and Pete Townsend was in a feisty mood, playing a mean guitar as well. I enjoyed this performance much more than in 1997 when I saw their Endless Wire tour show at the Hollywood Bowl.  Intermission was once again spent reminiscing with my old friends, leading up to the highlight of the weekend for both of us, Roger Waters’ Best of Pink Floyd set.  The venue rumbled with surround sound of a beating heart, helicopters, trains, sirens, alarm clocks, and beautiful spacey music, while amazing graphics displayed on the giant screen, including the Animals album cover stadium sized factory with smokestacks and steam coming out of them.  They played most of the albums Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here, and selections from The Wall (with kids singing on Another Brick in the Wall) and Animals, including an over the top condemnation of Donald Trump as a giant floating pig, which angered some in the crowd, like the man in front of us who shouted a few “What about the Lies?” (ie Hillary) before he stormed out (g’bye!). Waters’ band has a David Gilmour sound-alike singer and two Sia-looking backup singers who wailed on The Great Gig in the Sky.

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Pink Floyd combined Pigs and The Wall and made it all about Trump.

They concluded with the Dark Side of the Moon finale Brain Damage/Eclipse, followed by Vera and Bring the Boys Home, a Roger Waters Poem and one of my favorites, Comfortably Numb.  Meanwhile the moon had moved across the sky from one side of the venue to the other.  It was a stellar end to a stellar weekend.  Weekend Two folks were treated to a super full moon under which to enjoy the Dark Side of the Moon spectacle, but hey, we got see the actual dark side of the moon the previous week!  We were on such a (natural) high, not wanting the evening to end, that we went to the nearest 24 hour restaurant, IHOP, for more laughter and reminiscing with our old friends.  There were a lot of people with concert wristbands in there, as well as other restaurants across the valley throughout the two weekends, indicating the economic impact these festivals have on the local economy during the shoulder seasons. Concert goers had to leave their wristbands on throughout the time of the festival.

It took a day or so for this 59 year old to recover from the excitement of the event, the amazing music, camaraderie, late nights (4AM the last night) and little sleep, however, I don’t feel like an “Oldchella” person by any means. If anything this experience revitalized me, and the energy of the performers proved that they are going to rock ’til they drop.

I do recommend biking to the festivals at the Polo Grounds if possible.  However the problem with taking your bike may be where to park your car if you’re not staying within reasonable biking distance.  If you have friends who live in the vicinity who don’t mind you parking at their place, that’s a good option.  Or, if you are staying in an accommodation in La Quinta/Indio /Indian Wells, you can find bike routes leading from there.  Keep in mind you will be riding home late at night in the dark, so make sure to have the best bike light possible and ample rear light, and take them with you into the venue to prevent theft.  I don’t trust drivers on the road late at night, so I will always stick to the sidewalks. Try to notice any sidewalk hazards along the way when you ride to the show in daylight so you can avoid them when it’s dark. It goes without saying, don’t drink too much! It’s unsafe, and actually illegal to bike drunk, so if you plan to drink, consider Uber /Lyft or buy a shuttle pass (in advance) instead. In the future the CV Link Bike Trail will run through the region along the Whitewater River, and I hope festival promoter Golden Voice participates in creating a safe route from the trail to the venue, about 3 miles south of its closest point.  A connecting path along the Coachella Canal may do the trick, and while they are at it they can continue that path to Lake Cahuilla!

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La Quinta and Lake Cahuilla – An enCYCLEpedia Hidden Bike ‘n Brunch Gem

Known mostly for it’s world renowned golf country clubs like PGA West and  La Quinta Country Club, La Quinta holds great interest for those of us who just like to cycle, dine, and enjoy the beauty of the outdoors.

The charming new old town is a great place to come for your just reward - a delightful al fresco meal, whether it's breakfast at Old Town Coffee, the wide variety of offering at Stuft Pizza, or others that range from Mexican to Seafood.  The highly regarded La Quinta Arts Festival is held in the adjacent Civic Center campus in March.

The charming new old town is a great place to come for your just reward from your bike ride  – a delightful al fresco meal. Offerings  include breakfast at Old Town Coffee, the wide variety of offerings at Stuft Pizza, or others that range from Mexican to seafood. The highly regarded La Quinta Arts Festival is held at the adjacent Civic Center campus in early March.

My personal favorite Bike 'n Brunch reward is the Napa Pizza on the Stuft Pizza patio.

My personal favorite Bike ‘n Brunch reward is the Napa Valley Pizza on the Stuft Pizza patio. Pizza prices are reduced during Happy Hour (3-6).

The Bear Creek Trail leads from just west of Old Town, parallel to the La Quinta Cove neighborhood, gradually rising 350 feet up to the  foothills of the Santa Rosa Mountains.  It's perhaps the best Class I bike trail in the valley, even though it's only 2 miles long.  Ride LQ1 includes this trail and an exploration of Old Town, with some options.

The Bear Creek Trail leads from just west of Old Town, parallel to the La Quinta Cove neighborhood, gradually rising 350 feet up to the foothills of the Santa Rosa Mountains. It’s perhaps the best Class I bike trail in the valley, even though it’s only 2 miles long. enCYCLEpedia ride LQ1 includes this trail and an exploration of Old Town, with some options to extend the ride.

While La Quinta is the Gem of the Desert, we regard Lake Cahuilla as the Hidden Gem of the desert.

While La Quinta is the “Gem of the Desert,” we regard Lake Cahuilla Regional Park as the “Hidden Gem of the Desert.”  It is reachable from Old Town by trying enCYCLEpedia ride LQ2, which can be done in the bike lanes or adjacent scenic sidewalks for those of us who prefer to stay away from those 4,000 pound machines whizzing by erratically. It is free to cycle in, but there is a nominal fee to drive in.

Lake Cahuilla is about the only lake that you can cycle next to in the valley.  From the east and north ends the views of the Santa Rosa Mountains can be quite spectacular.

Lake Cahuilla is about the only lake that you can cycle next to in the valley. From the east and north ends the views of the Santa Rosa Mountains can be quite spectacular. You can’t ride all the way around it, but you can ride enough on both sides of it to get a variety of great vistas. The paths around the lake are gravel drives, best for hybrids or mountain bikes.  There is also a concrete apron, but parts of it are frequently taken up by fishermen.

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If you enjoy birdwatching, this can one of the best places in the valley. Shown here are a conglomeration of white pelicans, herons, gulls, cormorants and grebes on New Years Day 2015.  They are going after the stocked fish in the lake, just as the fishermen do when they come here for the fishing derbies.

Bighorn Sheep Lake Cahuilla

The Cove to Lake Trail (hike-only) runs 2.9 miles between the La Quinta Cove neighborhood and Lake Cahuilla park, with the trailhead to the west of the entrance kiosk.  These endangered bighorn sheep sometimes visit the valley bottom, munching on desert vegetation and the grass at the adjacent private Quarry golf course. It makes for a nice Bike ‘n Hike ‘n Brunch experience!  Beware though; where there is game there can be big cats who want them.

Swimming or boating is not allowed in the reservoir, with the exception of the swim for the Desert Triathlon held in early March.

Swimming and private boats are not allowed in the reservoir, with the exception of the swim for the Desert Triathlon held in early March.

Lake Cahuilla Public Park

The public park area features picnic areas, restrooms and  seasonal facilities including a large  swimming pool, boat rentals and refreshment stands.  On Easter this park is overflowing, a tradition.  The adjacent RV campground, which does not $gouge during the peak season like private ones do,  is popular with snowbirds, making this a great Camp n’ Ride ‘n Brunch cycling experience.

Snow Santa Rosas/Lake Cahuilla

Even when it’s colder than normal, the viewscapes here can be wonderful.  This is taken from the Lake Cahuilla entry kiosk.

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]

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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]

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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]

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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]