I nursed a cold through the latter half of last week so my dream of “giddying up” and linking the Anza-Borrego Traverse will remain just a line on the map for the time being. Despite being a little under the weather I did drop down into Borrego Springs from near the town of Anza, rode around for a bit in the Borrego badlands, then headed back up for an overnighter in the Coyote Canyon area of the state park before finishing up at the start point in Anza the next day. The deep sand and long rocky pushes with some bushwacking in the Middle Willows area (not to mention a tough grind back up to the starting point) made for a great “character building” training ride. Aside from being startled awake and serenaded by a raucous group of coyotes just out of reach of the light of my headlamp around 1 AM, silence was the rule – although I swear some of the falling stars sizzled as they scorched their mark into the clear night sky. Soon the chorus of dawn arrived upon the vaulted ceiling of my sky (the payoff for not lugging along a tent) and I put to rest all primordial fears of being eaten in my sleep. Time to finish the ride.
Since the story of the desert is told as much by silence as by speech, I’ll let the rest of the photos speak to the allure of doing a ride like this in the first place. In addition to solitude there is a remarkable amount of variety within this desert canyon! Even at the driest time of the year there is still quite a bit of water flowing through some areas of the wash. The abrupt changes from wet to dry are unnerving in many respects. Life is a tenuous proposition on the margins.
But if you want the full experience of desert riding at its best, add to the silence the backbeat of a rapidly beating heart followed by the shrill tones of heightened respiration as you pedal your bike up the unrelenting grade of a river that flows only under the best of circumstances. Once you get that going nice and steady for a while, mix in the pitter patter of sweat on the top tube along with the occasional chorus of muttered swears as the trail degenerates into a barely passable trace and routefinding becomes paramount. Smack your shin on a boulder or two for variety and listen to the bruises swell and the blood begin to flow… hear the undergrowth saw at your skin like a murderous violinist… start cranking the chainrings with a smile on your face… now you’re singing Coyote Canyon! It’s tough to keep it quiet when you are your own beast of burden.
Now that I think about it, is that why the coyotes were yelling at me during the night? They didn’t care for all that racket I was creating in their canyon? I guess I can’t blame them for being a little annoyed.