Saturday, February 14, 2009

Today's ride: cactus, cows, and climbs

When I woke up this morning after sleeping in till about 8am, it was sunny. This was a nice surprise since the weather forecast said it was supposed to be raining on an off all weekend. After I made my habitual "weekend breakfast" that consists of scrambled eggs and toast topped off with peanut butter and honey, I decided to go for a ride.

OK, truth be told, I puttered around the house for a little longer and tried to talk myself out of riding since it was a little on the chilly side. I'm really glad I ended up talking myself into going for a ride because it ended up being one of the best rides I've taken for a long time.

There's a lot of reasons why this ride was better than most. I ended up riding one of my favorite loops..a forty-ish mile loop from my house that winds up through Fallbrook, Rainbow, Valley Center, and then back into Bonsall. I've ridden this loop a million times on my motorcycle, but since I don't have a street bike at the moment, I haven't ridden these roads in a while. And since there's a good amount of climbing in it, I don't ride it on my bike all that often either.

Another reason why this ride was so good was my iPod was cueing up some really great music today. Lots of Johnny Cash, Shelby Lynne, and Paul Oakenfold for some reason. Three very differnt artists, but three I really enjoy (duh, I guess they wouldn't be in my iPod if I didn't like them). Good music sure makes a good ride even better. It was like a little soundtrack for my ride.

And the icing on the cake from this ride was the weather and lighting was just so pretty. Since it's been raining all week, the air looked and felt so pure. As a result, the sunlight looked extra pretty on the surrounding scenery. It really made me wish I had my digital SLR or at least my smaller digital camera. Despite not having a decent camera, I did snap some pics with my iPhone. So rather than just ramble on about the ride, here are some of the photos I took today.

On Rice Canyon Road, there's a cactus farm that has cacti growing for as far as the eye can see. There must be a million cacti of all shapes and sizes. I've always wanted to stop and take some pictures of this place, so today I did.

After exited Rice Canyon Road, I crossed Hwy 76 and headed east so I could ride up Couser Canyon. Couser Canyon is a grunt of a climb, but it's beautiful. Whenever I'm on this road, it doesn't seem like I'm in San Diego. There's a cattle ranch at the base of the valley. Today, there were a bunch of calves in the pasture that were so cute. I stopped to take some pictures. These little guys were really came over and stuck his head through the fence. Pretty soon, a few others sauntered over and I had about 8 little calves at the fenceline staring at me.

Here's a shot about 1/2 way up the climb looking back at the cattle ranch.At one point when I was grinding up the steepest section of this 4-mile climb, Johnny Cash's "Hurt" came on. How appropriate!

At the Couser Creek Ranch, a Morgan horse farm, there's a big black horse sculpture that the owners always decorate with whatever the prevailing holiday theme might be. With today being Valentine's Day, the horse was decorated with red lights, ribbon, and a big heart.

I assume this is Couser Creek. Due to all of the runs, it had a bit more water running in it, so a pretty little waterfall formed right beside the road.

This is the view from West Lilac Road looking east towards Palomar Mountain. Yes, that's snow in them thar hills!