Meanwhile, much earlier that day, it was 4:30am in the garage as I jumped on the bike and headed out into the Palm Springs pre-dawn, Dave was running support from his newly rigged car - PA / external audio system, cyclist warning and slow moving vehicle sign, and obligatory amber flashing lights. After a quick boot out of the city, we were quickly into the desert, surrounded by the deceivingly large Santa Jacinto and Santa Rosa mountains, peaks in view from 4000 to 12,000 feet.
After cruising past a massive grapefruit orchard which Dave wouldn't let us stop at, we headed up into Box Canyon, the beginning of about 95km of continuous climbing, WITH a headwind, did I mention that yet? Cresting out of Box Canyon we then headed into Joshua Tree National Park and rode all the way out the north end, still mostly up, still mostly with a headwind of about 30km/hr, aka ENTIRELY with a headwind of about 30km/hr.
Up near the pinnacle of our ascension for the day, we had a chance to wash our skunks and livers. The dry creek beds in these parts that fill with water the two or three times a year it rains are called "washes", in particular we obviously rode past Skunk Wash, and then Liver Wash.
Eventually we turned south, and headed down. Pro: down is nice. Con: seems there's some sort of thermal effect on this side of the plateau, and incomprehensibly, a headwind. Fortunately the perplexing headwind didn't last, and then we found ourselves looking down the side of a mountain, on a four lane road, with a straight run out the bottom. Giddy up. As we started off a giant transport with extra front end loader in tow headed down, I gave Dave a quick glance and quickly found myself at 95km/hr gaining rapidly, picked up a couple more k/hr in his draft and whipped around to the left lane and proceeded playing car slalom at 98km/hr. I know I know, no I couldn't find another 2km/hr, though that might come Saturday...
Finished the day with about 220km with an avg. of 30.6, not bad considering the 8,000 feet of elevation gain and a tad bit of wind. Easier desert floor ride tomorrow, 24hr time trial along the RAAM course starting in Oceanside on Saturday.