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The sun-blasted desert days of summer are over, and Borrego Springs now boasts salubrious temperatures along with its bone-dry air. This community of several thousand residents (in the winter season, at least) squarely placed in the midst of pristine Anza-Borrego Desert State Park has plenty of flat, paved roads that are perfect for casual bicycle touring. The following description of a 16.5-mile ride guides you along some of the better roads.

Begin at Christmas Circle, a traffic circle enclosing a grassy park in the center of Borrego Springs. Head west from the circle, then north on Ocotillo Circle and Lazy S Drive. "Winter homes," the counterpart of the usual summer homes of most resort areas, dot the desert landscape. Borrego Valley's climate is similar to that of Palm Springs, with scorching summer heat, but with current temperatures similar to those now experienced in inland spots like Escondido or El Cajon.

Follow Pointing Rock Drive, Yaqui Road, and Catarina Drive through and around the De Anza Country Club. The angular, coppery escarpment of Indianhead Mountain rises to the west, starkly contrasting with the cool hues of manicured greens and fairways and gracefully swaying palms. Follow Santa Rosa Road to Borrego Springs Road and Henderson Canyon Road, entering a more pristine desert landscape ahead, interrupted occasionally by citrus orchards and groves of cultivated palms. Tamarisk trees, planted as windbreaks along some roadsides, provide a measure of shade. When rainfall and sunshine are timely enough -- typically in late winter if it happens at all -- you'll find the open spaces overrun by carpetlike expanses of wildflowers such as desert sunflower, dune primrose, and sand verbena.

Next stop is Peg Leg Monument, tucked against the south spur of Coyote Mountain. The marker commemorates Peg Leg Smith, a prospector and spinner of tall tales, and his famous legend of lost gold. Adding stones to the big rock pile nearby, so it is said, brings luck to the treasure hunter.

You now return to Christmas Circle by going south on Peg Leg Road and west on Palm Canyon Drive. A few miles east of Pegleg Road, partly hidden from view, are the Borrego Badlands. These desolate, dry creek beds, steep cliffs, and ravines are almost completely devoid of plant life. Many an early prospector, so the tall tales tell, disappeared in these sandy wastes. Today's travelers on fat-tire-equipped mountain bikes can amuse themselves by getting slightly lost on many miles of twisting, sandy roadways in that area.

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