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Rural roads for pleasant summer morning or evening cycling still exist around Escondido. For a sample, try the following ten-mile, looping ride over the hills north of town. The route features an elevation gain of 1100 feet and one long and steep downgrade, so you'll want to have a bicycle with a low range of gears and with brakes in top shape.

Jesmond Dene Park, three miles north of downtown Escondido on North Broadway, is a good place to start riding. Head north on North Broadway, which loses no time as it slices from outlying subdivisions toward the wild, chaparral-covered hills north of town. Bulldozers scraping around in a couple of spots hint at the continuing northward march of housing development, however.

After 2.5 miles, turn right on the initially unpaved Cougar Pass Road, which wends its twisty way up a dry slope. The road is graded smooth enough for skinny-tired road bikes -- at least for uphill travel, which is typically slow. Behind you and to the left, a view opens of Escondido's flatlands. You enter an oak grove after your first mile on dirt and soon pass a back entrance to Escondido's Daley Ranch preserve.

After reaching pavement on Cougar Pass Road, you come to a T-intersection at Alps Way. Veer left, staying on Cougar Pass Road. Make no turns ahead and you'll soon find yourself on Meadow Glen Way East. You continue through the secluded Hidden Meadows residential area and curve around the perimeter of the Meadow Lake Country Club golf course.

At a stop sign turn left on Mountain Meadow Road. Soon you're swooping down to Interstate 15 in a striped bike lane, losing 550 feet of elevation in three or four minutes. Turn left on North Centre City Parkway (just short of I-15), continue parallel to the freeway for half a mile, and then turn left on Jesmond Dene Road. Enjoy the cool, downhill run on this oak-shaded two-lane road. You'll arrive at your starting point in a few minutes.

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