Randonnuerds on the Joshua tree/Mojave Road

I had driven by the Mojave Desert/Joshua Tree Scenic Byway many times...each time I wanted to turn left off the highway. I knew the mountain range it traversed, twisting along the high foothills of the desert. This past sunday Harrison and I met up to ride this 45mi loop, with no small amount of climbing.

There was a surplus of calories packed on our bikes. Beer, Guava juice, Tuna, brownie crisps. Highway 91 dipped in and out of red rock canyons, and eventually snaked upward in elevation toward the J-tree road turnoff.

   My bike was not fast, though loaded, the cross check felt as confident as baboons in mating season. I was able to jump off every protruding rock in the road, blood-free.


We pedaled fast, slow, wobbled, tucked and generally giggled over the beauty of the road, and the fact that there was no one out there on a sunday afternoon. After about 3,000ft of climbing, we turned toward 10mi of teeth-rattling dusty gravel downhill.

   By the end we were unscathed, and exhausted. Some moto riders drove by in their truck, and I hastily tried to scoot sideways, a Coors and guava juice in hand, trying to unclip my shoe in the process. No dice. I tipped, spilled and laughed as the moto guys drove by, watching the entire affair.

   All together, the ride was around 45 miles and 4,500 ft. of climbing. For a relaxed overnight, It could easily be broken up into two days by camping down one of the many two track offshoots on the road. It is remote, so be prepared with plenty of water (2L+) and tools. Once on the dirt, there is little traffic (we went on a sunday afternoon, saw a few cars and zero cyclists). Navigation is relatively straightforward. All roads are graded, so if you find yourself on two track, your off route :-) for an electronic trail of bread crumbs, see the screenshot below. 

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