Palm Desert Century Rider Levels

PDC Rider Levels Rider Level descriptions offer detailed course info and no-nonsense advice for riding the Palm Desert Century (PDC). Participants will have widely varying cycling goals, skills, and conditioning levels. This will help fill in some of the unknowns. Future updates will include comments from PDC riders, within each rider level. The best insider tips come from riders with previous PDC experience. Variable factors, like temperature, wind, sun, and humidity radically alter the tactics for riding PDC.  We strongly recommend reading as much as you can to help develop a smart Training/Ride Plan for a safe, positive, and thoroughly memorable experience.
                               Return to the Palm Desert Century page, click here

Recommended Reading for All Rider Levels:
                        PDC Detailed Course Description
                        Special Weather Considerations  

Rider Level Details, Tips, and Advice:
   Beginner White 2  Beginner/First Century/First Time at Palm Desrt Century
   Fitness  Fitness/Health
   Veteran Rider  Veteran Century Rider
   Tandems  Tandem riders COMING SOON
   Club Team  Club/Team COMING SOON
   Triathlon IM  Triathlete/Ironman COMING SOON
   Speedsters  Speedsters/Categorized Riders COMING SOON
   Ultra Distance  Ultra Distance Riders COMING SOON 

Palm Desert Century Detailed Course Description:

Thank you for your interest in the Palm Desert Century (PDC).  Whether you're a beginner, or veteran century rider, it’s vital that you KNOW THE COURSE—how it’s laid out, including:  turns, hard and easy segments, potential danger zones, and where Rest Stops are located.  Equally important, is to KNOW YOURSELF.  Make sure you’re well prepared physically and mentally for this challenging ride.  We strongly recommend getting checked by your doctor before attempting a strenuous cycling event such as the PDC.

It’s also vital that you are prepared for the weather elements. Weather, especially heat and wind, can easily be more impactful than any single tough uphill climb.  Fact is, most experienced riders would prefer riding uphill with a slight tailwind than downhill with a headwind!

Let’s start with the course.  All courses are simple out-and-back designs.  Carefully review the Course Strip Map.  Cue Sheets with turn-by-turn directions will be available at packet pick up for all routes.  All routes are designed as out-and-back courses.  The ride proceeds generally South and East, gradually descending from 224 ft El above Sea Level in Palm Desert, to 180 ft El below Sea Level near Mecca.  From Mecca, the course continues 15 miles East to Chiriaco Summit, the turnaround point, at Mile 50.  The course then flows back along the same route, in reverse, back to the finish in Palm Desert. 

This is a “Rules of Road” event.  Riders must comply with all Traffic Laws, including coming to a full stop at all red Light Signals and Stop Signs. Police may ticket riders disregarding Traffic Laws. Riders who fail ignore stop signals and signs will be disqualified from the event and will not receive credit for completing the Full Century or Time Trial (as applicable). Safety is the #1 concern at PDC.  Here's an informative link with Safe Riding techniques and applicable California Traffic Laws.  Ride Safely and Alert at all times!

The first/last 16 miles are in well-developed urban areas of Palm Desert, Indio, and La Quinta.  In these communities, road surfaces are mostly good to excellent.  Most roads have marked bike lanes or adequate space to ride safely to the right of the white lane line.  Expect urban vehicle traffic, intersections with signals, and stop signs.  Traffic will be relative light in the early morning, building throughout the day.  Use extra caution at the Traffic Circle at Jefferson and Ave 52, near mile 12.  It's a RED ZONE in both directions, meaning ride single file, max speed of 20 MPH, and ride as far to the right as safely possible.  Flow directly North and South through the Traffic Circle.  Stay on Jefferson St.  It may not be used as a course turnaround point.  Watch for arrows marking the course.  Police will be there too.  

Starting at Rest Stop 1, near mile 16, the road narrows as the course proceeds East into the more remote desert regions of Coachella Valley.  Expect no marked bicycle lanes and less space to the right of the white lane.  Correspondingly, there will be lighter traffic.  Be very careful on 66th Ave, as that section has limited space for cyclists.  Rest Stop #2 is located at mile 25 on 66th Ave in the Desert Mirage High School parking lot.  Use caution entering and exiting the roadway.

Exercise caution at the major 4-way stops along 66th Ave. The intersection of 66th Ave & Hwy 11 (Grapefruit), is a major intersection located on the West side of Mecca.  This is the MANDATORY turnaround point for ALL SHORT COURSE riders (less than 60 miles).  Short Course Riders are identified by a bright yellow wristband.  For Short Course Riders, this is the farthest turnaround point and they must safely execute a u-turn and ride back to the finish at Palm Desert.  Full Course riders, identified by either a Gold wristband (Full Course w/Time Trial) or Silver wristband (Full Course only) may continue by making a left turn onto Hwy 111, then a quick right turn onto 4th Ave, over the railroad tracks, and another quick right turn onto Hammond Rd.  CHP will be onsite, but use extra caution and comply with all traffic signals and stop signs at these tight intersections in both directions.

About 4 miles east of Mecca, just past the canal, is a little-known stretch of asphalt named Box Canyon Rd.  This is the location of Rest Stop #3 (mile 35).  Box Canyon Rd climbs gradually from 180 ft El below Sea Level to about 1,200 ft El in 15 miles, to Chiriaco Summit.  The grade is about 1-2% most of the way up and should not prove difficult for most riders.  Although this is a remote section, it's very important to ride with extra caution, due to the narrow road and no white line on the right.  Expect RV traffic too.  Announce "Passing!" when overtaking riders.  Immediately move to the right after passing other riders.  We recommend descending with even more caution due to uneven sections of pavement and potential rocks and sand on the road.  Box Canyon Rd is a "Red Zone" in both directions.  Ride carefully--like your life depends on it--because it does! 

This is also the section of the course for the optional Chiriaco Summit Time Trial.  The uphill 15-mile segment will have a Time Trial Start at mile 35 and a Time Trial Finish at mile 50 at the Chiriaco Summit turnaround point.  If you opted in for the Time Trial, you must wear your Timing Chip from Palm Desert and turn-in the Timing Chip at the Time Trial Finish at Chiriaco Summit.  Riders who do not return Timing Chips will be charged an $85 replacement fee.  Volunteers and signs will be posted to help Time Trial riders with Timing Chip recovery.

Chiriaco Summit, is located at mile 50 and is the turnaround point for Full Century Riders.  This is also the location for Rest Stop #4 and is the Lunch Stop for riders selecting it ahead of time. The return course is a mirror image, heading West and Nouth, back to the Start/Finish in Palm Desert.  Be sure to use all Rest Stops to re-hydrate and replenish carbs.

Roads surfaces and vehicular traffic vary widely along the course.  For the most part, traffic is light compared to most urban areas in So Cal.  In built-up areas, the road surfaces are mostly excellent and usually have marked bike lanes.  In the more remote desert sections (majority of the course), expect less traffic, but also expect less room for cyclists.  Ride as far to the right as safely possible, single file, and announce passing vehicles to riders ahead by calling out “Car back!”.  If you hear “Car back!”, move as far to the right as safely possible and relay to the rider ahead of you.

As with any ride, everyone needs to ride on HIGH ALERT for the unexpected.  Always watch for creases, cracks, and potholes in the road surface.  It’s good practice to always watch for what’s immediately ahead of you on the road.  A road turtle (rock), or in the desert, a real turtle, are always potential hazards.  Riding safely means staying alert at all times.  As with boxing, it’s essential to PROTECT YOURSELF AT ALL TIMES!  At intersections and Rest Stops, be extra careful.  Announce if you are stopping, or turning, by calling out "Stopping!" or "Turning Left/Right!".  At Rest Stops, position your bicycle completely off the road surface.  Also be careful when re-entering the public right-of-way.  Yield to oncoming vehicles and riders.

The course design, terrain, and total elevation gain of about 2,400 ft, result in an overall "Easy" rating for the Century.  However, for all riders, the actual difficulty rating is based on INDIVIDUAL conditioning/fitness levels, weather on the day of the ride, and cycling experience.  Weather can easily become the dominate factor when riding in desert regions.

Before attempting the PDC, you must have invested significant time preparing.  That means training!  For the full century, it's recommended to ride at least 3-4 times per week, with a longer ride of 50-80 miles on the weekend, at the very minimum.  Shorter course riders should be riding at least 2-3 times per week with a longer ride of 25-40 miles on the weekend.  Be sure to include stretching before and after all rides, to help avoid muscle tears and injuries.  Here's a link to a Bicycling Magazine article containing information about preparing and training for a big ride.

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Special Weather Considerations:

The desert is nortorious for producing tricky weather.  Most riders will naturally feel better in the cool early morning hours at PDC.  Prevailing winds will likely be tailwinds heading South and East on the course, with a very gradual downhill, all the way to Mecca.  These factors mask the true difficulty, because later in the afternoon, those same light morning tailwinds (which you probably won't notice) will be stronger afternoon headwinds (which you definitely will feel).  Also, the temperature will gradually rise all day from morning lows in the 45-50F range, to afternoon highs in the 75-80F range.  Lastly, there’s an almost imperceptible uphill grade from Mecca  at -180 ft El. to Palm Desert at +224 ft El.  For "Coasties" and anyone not from the desert, the very dry air will silently have a cumulative dehydrating effect.  Dry desert winds amplify dehydration effects.  Even in the cool morning, it's vital to continuously replace fluids all along the course.

Warning signs of dehydration include:  excessive dried salt on the surface of the skin and on clothing, disorientation, headaches, cramps, dry mouth, excessive thirst, and reduced cognitive skills.  Watch for these signs and ask volunteers or other riders to check you out at Rest Stops.

Filtered water and Vitalyte will be available at every Rest Stop.  Vitalyte has just the right mixture of water, glucose, and electrolytes to fend off dehydration.  It has less sugar than most energy drinks.  Plus, Vitalyte will be iced!  It tastes great, not too sweet, not too salty.  Additionally, every PDC registered rider will receive a Saltstick sample (salt caplets) with additional supplies at every rest stop.  Saltstick is the only electrolyte capsules formulated to closely resemble the electrolyte profile of what is lost during strenuous activity: Sodium, Potasium, Calcium, and Magnesium.  Suggested use is 1 capsule per 30-60 minutes of activity.  Learn more about Vitalyte and Saltstick.  Should temperatures and winds rise above 80F and 15 MPH, expect the effects of dehydration to magnify significantly.   Learn more about Rest Stop items, click here.

1. past weather near Palm Desert on Nov 11:

    2010:    Hi 76F, Lo 59F
    2009:    Hi 84F, Lo 54F
    2008:    Hi 83F, Lo 55F
    2007:    Hi 79F, Lo 54F
    2006:    Hi 76F, Lo 47F
    2005:    Hi 76F, Lo 58F
    2004:    Hi 74F, Lo 45F
    2003:    Hi 82F, Lo 64F
    2002:    Hi 77F, Lo 61F
    2001:    Hi 87F, Lo 62F

2. November 11 Profiles

     Palm Desert (Start/Finish)
        Sunrise:  6:13 A.M.
        Sunset:  4:45 P.M.
        Avg High:  82F
        Avg Low:  54F
        Record High:  97F (1981)
        Record Low:   25F (1950)

    Mecca, CA (Halfway)

        Sunrise:  6:13 A.M.
        Sunset:  4:44 P.M.
        Avg High:  82F
        Avg Low:  48F
        Record High:  92F (1989)
        Record Low:   48F (1989)

3.  Clothing Items:  Minimally, all riders should arrive with arm warmers, a high tech (non-cotton) lightweight base layer under the jersey, and a breathable high tech (such as Goretex) wind vest.  If weather forecasts call for cooler conditions, below 40 F, the recommended clothing list is expanded to include all the same items above, plus:  high tech leg warmers or tights, long-finger gloves, neoprene toe covers or booties, headband, and a long sleeve outer jacket.  For warmer weather, it's easy to peel off outer layers of clothing during the ride.  

4.  Ride Smart:

    A.  Before the ride:

         (1)  Get yourself in shape!  Don't wait until Nov 1st to start training.  Based on your goals for PDC, get a headstart with your training.  Try to work in at least 3 rides of 1-2 hours during the week, with at least one longer ride of 3-4 hours on the weekend.  Include a variety of terrain, if possible.  Watch your diet and try to eat more healthy, lower fat foods.  Speak with your doctor to determine your optimum healthy weight and proper training efforts.  Here's a link to some articles about training for a century. 

         (2)  Mechanical Preparations:  The desert is the last place to take a chance on questionable tires, worn brakes, or poorly maintained drive trains.  All riders need to take their bikes to their favorite bike shop for a complete safety inspection.  If necessary, have a tuneup or overhaul, as necessary.  Ask the mechanics to point out what components need to be replaced.  It's a fact-of-life, bicycles need mechanical attention and will require replacement of components periodically.  Long-time Shadow Tour mechanic, Tom Cody, owner of Bike Mobile, has developed the following PDC Bicycle Preparation Checklist:

              (a)  Check tires for excessive wear and sidewall cracks. Make sure tires have adequate pressure.
              (b)  Check wheels for trueness and dish.
              (c)  Have your bike tuned at least annually. Brake and Deraileur Cables should be replaced if
                    evidence of kinks and fraying are discovered.
              (d)  Check chain, cogs, and chainwheels for wear; replace if excessively worn.
              (e)  Check condition of brake pads; replace if badly worn. Verify brakes are centered on wheels
                    and brake shoes are properly positioned in relation to rims.
              (f)   Clean rear gear cluster with rag or stiff brush.
              (g)  Clean chainwheels with rag.
              (h)  Take off chain and soak with solvent (mineral spirits work extremely well! Just remember to
                    be "Green" and dispose of properly); otherwise, clean it in place with spray and solvent.
              (i)  After cleaning chain, drip lubricant into pivots between links. Avoid over lubricating as this will
                   attract dirt  and dirty the hands of the mechanic!
              (j)  Ensure you have spare tubes and a tire pump or CO2 cartridges.
              (k)  Each cyclist should have their bike inspected by a qualified mechanic prior to riding the century.
              (l)  Keep your bike clean by wiping down after each ride.  When you clean, inspect for any sign of
                   cracks on the Frame, and especially around the handlebar and stem.  Even the slightest crack
                   must be fully investigated and, repaired or replanced.

    B.  During the ride:

         (1)  Clothing:  Wear the right amount of clothing to protect you from wind and possible cold temperatures.  Recognize, the weather conditions change thoroughout the day in what can be a hostile desert environment, react accordingly.  In the afternoon, arm coolers will help protect from damaging sun rays without causing overheating. 

         (2)  Fluid Replacement:  Rehydrate all day long!  Even in ideal circumstances, the dry air in the desert combined with winds and your own cycling effort will conspire to dehydrate you.  Drink plenty of water.  Many riders choose to carry extra water in Camelbak systems.  This is recommended and encouraged.  If you use a Camelbak, we request that you arrive with it fully topped off.  At rest stops, there will be water and Vitalyte in separate containers.  Water is in self serve 1-gallon jugs.  Vitalyte will be mixed in 5-gallon containers and will have ice, based on weather conditions.

         (3)  Nutrition:  The rest stops are spaced about 10-15 miles apart.  All are fully-stocked.  Click here for a list of standard items.  Replacing carbohydrates is vital in events over 2 hours.  Be sure to eat something at every rest stop.  Clif Bars, Clif Shots, Clif Gels, PB&J's, Pretzels, Banana's, Oranges, Red Vines, Fig Newtons, there's gotta be something everyone likes, so dig in!  The included lunch will include a Subway Sandwich, potatoe chips, a soda or water, and a cookie dessert.  Riders select the location of their included lunch meal in advance, either at the 50-mile turnaround past Mecca, or at the Start/Finish in Palm Desert.  Appropriate wristbands will be given to all riders.

         (4)  Creature Comforts:  Take care of yourself in the desert!  Apply plenty of sunscreen.  Use chapstick or lip balm from Start to Finish.  Lip balm is at every rest stop.  Samples of Chamois Butt'r are included in every Rider Goodie Bag--it's a wonder product and we highly recommend using it.  Additional Chamois Butt'r tubes are at every rest stop.  Advil and First Aid Kits are also at every rest stop, along with hand sanitizer and paper towels.  Portajohns are at every rest stop and at the lunch stop.  Everytime you dismount your bicycle, take a minute to stretch out your quads and hamstrings, back too.  Ask your riding buddies, or volunteers how you look.  Any dried sweat?  Sunburn?  Something falling out of your jersey pockets?  It's amazing what you'll learn when you ask.  Take care of eachother out on the course.  If you see something wrong, let the person know, or inform a volunteer.  If you see a PDC rider going off course, call out to them! 

         (5)  Ride the Right Distance:  Every rider must select the right distance on the day of the ride.  The smart way to approach PDC is to break it down into bite-sized chunks.  For some, that may be in 5-mile increments, or possibly hour-by-hour, or rest stop-to-rest stop.  Whatever interval you choose, check yourself out when you get there.  The desert is a worthy foe and DEMANDS your respect.  Don't expect that everyone wanting to complete the Full Century will succeed.  Instead, ride with some finesse.  Be flexible out there.  If you're feeling good at your individual check points, by all means, continue.  But be honest with yourself.  At the early signs of dehydration or cramping, your body is signalling the need to take the big "u-turn" back to Palm Desert.  Be mindful of the time cutoffs.  They are in place for important safety reasons, namely, the sun absolutely dives down at just before 5:00 P.M.  With the sunset, temps plummet and riders are completely exposed, so comply with all time cutoffs and include them in your ride plan.  The time cutoffs are listed in your Rider Instructions.

    C.  Post Ride:  If you've completed the Full Century, after you cross the Finish Line in Palm Desert, announce "Stopping!" and safely dismount your bike. Check in with the Vol's at the finish.  They will verify your wristband validation from the turnaround point, and add your Bib #, name, and city to the Full Century Finishers list, which will be posted on the Shadow Tour website.  If you used a gear drop, pick it up right away.  The DJ will be making reminder announcements and signs are posted to help riders remember to claim their gear bags.  Unclaimed bags require riders to send $7 to cover mailing expenses.  For riders who opted to have lunch at the Finish, a Subway Sandwich is waiting at the large canopy on the basketball court inside the park.  Riders who pre-purchased the Optional Postride Pasta Meal will have a wristband indicating "Postride Meal".  It will also be served on the basketball court.  The postride Pasta meal is available to all riders for $18 on Sat, subject to availability.  Various Sponsors and Vendors have booths in the finish area.  Please visit with them, as they are an important part of PDC.  Lastly, if you haven't already done so, please let a volunteer know you appreciate their efforts.  Volunteers are giving up most of their weekend, to help you enjoy yours!  To directly reward Roy's Volunteers, the Official PDC Charity, please stop by their booth near the Reg Tent and drop a cash donation in their collection jar.  Riders may make an online donation after the ride by credit card.  Please visit Roy'
fundraising website associated with the Palm Desert Century.  Feel free to invite friends and family to join you at the park after your ride.  There's a large grassy area to spread out.  Blankets & folding chairs are permitted.  Small pop-up shade canopies are ok too, just do not use any spikes to hold them up.  Relax & enjoy the postride music.  Well Done to All Finishers! 

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Beginner/First Century   

1.  Overview:  Although the Palm Desert Century (PDC) course is rated "Easy", with only about 2,400 ft of total climbing elevation, it can be much more difficult if high temps and/or strong winds develop.  Approach this ride with abundant respect.  The desert can be unforgiving.  All courses are set up using an "out-and-back" format.  That's a very good choice for beginners, or first time century riders.  The out-and-back design simplifies navigation and maximizes support in both directions.  Secondly, the course is supports the idea of taking on PDC "one bite at a time".  That means the full century course (100 miles) is really a series of shorter blocks of riding distance.  One smart way to ride the course is rest stop to rest stop.  The rest stops are optimally spaced approximately every 10-15 miles and serve riders in both directions.  This means you're never very far from on-course support.  Use every rest stop to rehydrate and take on carbs for energy.  It also means you are fully supported, in both directions, no matter where you choose to make your turnaround.  Specific turnaround points are marked with signs.  But regardless of where you make the u-turn, do it legally and safely.  Come to a full stop and watch for vehicle and rider traffic before turning around.  There are also several support vehicles ("SAG wagons") with orange magnetic signs that say "Shadow Tour Support Vehicle".  You may flag one down if you need any assistance.  SAG vehicles carry extra water and have limited evacuation capability.  Several mechanics, including Tom Cody's "Bike Mobile" and Thomas Ward's "Crankin' Time" are also patrolling the route with a full compliment of tools and parts to get you rolling again if you have a mechanical issue.  The best way to avoid mechanical problems is to have a complete bicycle tune-up done at your favorite bike store PRIOR to PDC.  The Desert is no place to take a chance on worn tires or poor maintenance.  

2.  Weather:  Be sure to read the "Special Weather Conditions" section above.  For all cyclists, especially first timers, weather plays a huge role in the desert.  No matter what the forecast calls for, you need to be prepared for a wide range of weather conditions in the desert.  In November, that primarily means:  1. Wind, and 2. Wide Temperature ranges.  The prevailing winds at PDC are from Northwest  to Southeast.  That almost always means riding the first half of the course with a light morning tailwind, which you likely will not notice.  But the light morning winds build during the day.  That means you'll be dealing with at least a noticeable headwind in the afternoon riding back to the finish in Palm Desert!  We strongly encourage small groups of riders (5-10), form "pacelines".  A paceline is a single file line of riders, spaced about 1/2 bike length apart, working together to draft off eachother.   A good paceline allows the lead rider to break the wind, and create a draft for the other riders.  The lead rider is doing much, but certainly not all, of the work.  All the other riders in the paceline take turns at the front ("pulling").

Depending on the wind direction and speed, it's good practice to take pulls in the lead position of about 1 - 2 miles, which is about 3 - 10 minutes, depending on the wind and degree of climbing elevation.  When your turn in front is complete, check traffic first, pull out to the left, and allow the other riders to pass on the right, then assume the "tail-end Charlie" position at the end of the paceline.  The tail position offers the most beneficial drafting effect and gives the previous lead rider a chance to recover.  The correct rotation of the paceline is entirely up to the riders to manage among themselves.  If the wind is howling, short pulls make much more sense.  In modest winds, longer pulls work fine.  Good communications is crucial to a well organized paceline.  Always check for passing vehicles before rotating out of the front.

Temperature change is also very subtle and cumulative.  The temps will likely be delightful in the early morning, possibly even cool enough to wear a light wind vest and arm warmers/arm coolers.  All day long, the temps will gradually rise.  And bear in mind, the desert air has very low humidity.  These two factors combine with extended physical activity (2 + hours in the saddle) to accelerate dehydration.  Drink continuously thorough out the ride, not just big gulps at the rest stops.  Vitalyte and Saltstick will help to avoid dehydration.  These will be discussed in more detail later.  Be sure to replace carbohydrates too, in order to prevent bonking (loss of energy).  Just like a car, you've got to keep fuel in your tank! 

3.  Start of Ride:  Bear in mind, you're starting at a low elevation of 224 feet above Sea Level in Palm Desert, and will very gradually descend to 180 ft below Sea Level near Mecca at mile 30, then climb gradually back up to over 1,200 feet near the Chiraco Summit turnaround point.  So keep things in perspective.  You should absolutely expect to ride comfortably the first 30 miles.  You'll hit Rest Stop 1 at mile 16, at the Westside Elementary School.  There will be a Gear Bag drop to strip off extra layers of clothing.  Volunteers will provide a plastic bag and marker.  Mark your plastic bag with your Bib# and name, place items inside, and tie off the top.  The Gear Bag drop cutoff is 10:00 A.M.  At that time, Gear Bags will be returned to the Finish in Palm Desert.  Remember to pick yours up when done!

    At Rest Stop 1, check yourself out carfully and ask another rider or vol how you look.  Excessive salt stains on the surface of the skin and on clothing are signs of dehydration.  Top off your water bottles and eat some banana's, oranges, Clf Bars, etc.  Re-apply lip balm, sunblock, and Chamois B'ttr.  Use hand santizer liberally.  Do not attempt to add ice in your water bottle.  Ice supplies are for chilling Vitalyte.  It's unsantitary for riders to scoop out ice from the coolers, so please don't do it.  Use the portajohns, if needed.  Don't camp out!  A normal rest stop should be less than 3 minutes.  If you're still feeling good, and all systems are "go", proceed.  It's 10 miles to Rest Stop 2 at mile 25, the Desert Mirage High School.  If you are feeling unusually fatigued at either of these early rest stops, we strongly advise you to turn around early.  The back half of the ride is always more difficult than the front, because you will encounter (and feel) the headwinds, the grade is slightly uphill, temps are rising, and you'll be tired from hours in the saddle.  

    From Rest Stop 2 it's 10 miles to Rest Stop 3 at mile 35.  At mile 30, the intersection of Ave 66 & Hwy 111 (Grapefruit) use extra care.  See "Course Description" above. Rest Stop 3 is located about 4 miles East of Mecca, over the canal, at the base of the 15-mile Box Canyon Rd climb up to the Chiriaco turnaround at mile 50.  For the climb, we recommend removing outer layers of clothing.  Put clothing items into your rear pockets.  You may need them for the descent later.  If you're a first time century rider, who registered for the Time Trial, we suggest riding it well within your physical limits.  That's a politically correct way of saying, just take it easy up that long hill.  First time century riders should not be concerned with riding swiftly.  What's important is to manage your ride with a wide margin of safety.  The 50-mile turnaround point is only half way.  Nobody gets an "A" for making it to the turnaround point, only to realize they cannot continue and need a SAG lift back to the start.  Trust us, it's happened before.  Non-emergency SAG wagon rides back to the start are no fun.  It likely involves hours of waiting for rides, being shuttled back through the rest stops, on the floor of a cargo van, on bumpy roads.  Get the picture?  So to avoid that unhappy scenario, heed this advice about having a Ride Plan and Riding your Plan.

    Experienced century riders almost always make several attempts at half and metric centuries before conquering at full century.  If you find you're getting close to the danger zone on the long climb up to Chiricaco Summit, remember, you may still turn back.  Just safely make a u-turn, checking for riders and vehicle in both directions first.  The climb on Box Canyon is a mostly gentle 1% incline.  There are some flat spots, even some false downs (appear downhill but are really flat, or even uphill).  The last 3+ miles will be a grind, so expect that, and don't let it freak you out.  If you're otherwise feeling good, physically, go for the summit.   Rest Stop 4 is at the exact halfway point, at mile 50 on Chiriaco Summit.  There's a full Rest Stop with portajohns and Lunch for riders who selected it for their lunch location.  Your wristbands will indicate your choice.  BE SURE TO GET YOUR WRISTBAND VALIDATED.  That's the only way to insure you'll receive credit for successfully riding the Full Century.  At Rest Stop 4, once again, rehydrate and replinish carbs.  Double-check your brakes, tires, wheels, stem, and handlebars before descending Box Canyon.  Box Canyon is a Red Zone in both directions.  But on the downhill segment, we recommend softpeddling, or just freewheeling (no peddling) all the way down.  Be on high alert for rough road surfaces, debris, rocks, sand, potholes, other riders, and vehicles passing from behind.  There's no reason to ride faster than 20 MPH.  Stay as far to the right as safely possible.  Loudly announce "Passing!" and "On your left!" when overtaking riders.  Check for passing vehicles in both directions before passing other riders.  Use good ride ediquette all along the course, and especially in Red Zones.

    From the bottom of Box Canyon, is Rest Stop 5 (mile 65), The rest of the return ride West to Palm Desert is exactly the same, just in reverse.  Stay on your plan, because you're now committed to your route.  Still work it in small bites.  Even breaking it down to mile-by-mile inbetween rest stops, if necessary.  If you need to stop between rest stops, be sure to get competely off the public right-of-way (road surface).  It's a good idea to stretch out the quads, hams, and lower back at every rest stop to help avoid cramps.  As you ride back to Palm Desert, enjoy the spectacular scenery too.  You'll have glimpses of the Salton Sea while descending the last few miles of Box Canyon.  The striking Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mts ridgeline will be directly ahead in the distance.

4.  Westbound Riding:  Stay on high alert on the rough/narrow sections on Ave 66 and Airport Rd.  When you re-enter La Quinta, you'll immediately notice the green vegetation, wider roads, and dedicated bike lanes.  Coming back into the urban desert cities should be a relief, but keep your guard up.  There's more vehicular traffic and not every driver obeys all traffic laws.  So be careful and ride defensively.  You're also nearing the final 10-15 miles of the course and you'll be feeling it.  That's natural.  Feeling dizzy, or disoriented, is not natural.  Feeling faint is an immediate STOP signal from your body.  So listen carefully and stop, flag down a SAG vehicle, or dial 9-1-1 if you need immediate help.  Also, avoid focusing exclusively on the Finish Line.  You've still got some work to do.  Obey the red Traffic Signals and stop signs.  Watch out for other riders.  Stay on course and inside the bike lanes when safe to do so.  Use extra care merging to left lanes on Jefferson St at Ave 42.  Keep your head on a swivel.  Stay alert all the way to the park.   You can celebrate after you safely dismount the bike on the happy side of the Finsh Line. 

5.  Finishing:  When you cross the line, immediately announce "Stopping!" and safely dismount your bicycle.  Vols will be there to hand you a Finisher's Medal.  There will be a table set up with a vol who will check your wristband validation and record "Full Century Finishers".  Water will be available nearby.  Subway sandwich meals await riders who selected the Finish location for their lunch.  Lunches and the Optional Postride meal will be served under the large canopy on the basketball court.  There are portajohns and restrooms near the Finish Line.  If you dropped off a Gear Bag, pick it up before doing anything else.  That way it won't be forgotten.  If your family and friends are with you, it's a good idea to bring a blanket and spread out in the grassy area to relax and enjoy your postride sense of accomplishment.     

6.  Ride the Right Distance:  Depending on how you feel the day of the ride and the weather conditions, riding the full 100 mile course may not be the wise decision.  Avoid the trap of making the halfway point your primary goal, thinking "if I make it half way, I can coast home".   That's simply not the way it is!  Hosting a popular desert century ride is a monumental challenge for organizers and volunteers.  To keep it safe and well-supported for all riders, everyone needs to ride within their limits .  To help, we have marked several turnaround points along the route.  We do this to ENCOURAGE riders to ride the right distance, for themselves, given individual conditioning levels, and taking into account the weather factors on the day of the ride.  We provide superior levels of support for all riders in the form of stationary rest stops and on-course SAG wagons.  But, we are not able to evacuate large numbers of riders who mismanage themselves out on the course.  By mismanagement, we mean cyclists who ride too far, too fast, ignoring nutritional considerations and subsequently cramp up, become ill, light-headed, or otherwise cannot continue for a wide variety of reasons, such as missed medications, avoidable crashes, etc.  It also means these riders have possibly ignored time cutoffs and other details contained in the Rider Instructions, along with numerous warnings about riding smart.  They end up requiring evacuation resources, which are in short supply that far out in the desert.  This situation obviously is to be avoided.

7.  Ride Smart:  The smart way, and best way, to ride the PDC, especially for first-timers, is to simply take it one small bite at a time; such as riding rest stop to rest stop, or riding in one hour intervals.  Don't focus on the totality of the full century.  Each time you stop, do a complete physical check of yourself.  Make sure you have replenished your water and Vitalyte supplies.  Ask the vols to check you out.  Take note of where you are on the course in relation to the various time cutoffs detailed in your Rider Instructions.  Consume lots of energy items.  Take Saltstick capsules, which contain sodium, magnesium, and potassium--all great for avoiding cramps.  Get off your bike and stretch out your hamstrings, quadriceps, and back.  Take care of yourself with sunblock, lip balm, and Chamois Butt'r to reduce chaffing, maybe even take an Advil.  If you do all these things and you still begin to feel cramps, or other physical limit signs, like dizzyness, nausia, vomiting, or you stop sweating, then it's definitely time to turnaround and head back, or seek medical assistance.

    The real trick is to turn back BEFORE you hit the wall with these obvious physical limit signs.  Remember, the PDC course is completely unforgiving, indeed, it's a worthy foe.  It gets gradually more difficult all day.  If it's particularly windy, or hot, or both, everything will be that much more difficult.  It's also late in the riding season, when most riders are not at their peak levels of fitness.  So don't try to be Superman out there!  If it turns out not to be your day, just accept it.  You'll get another chance to go for the Full Century next time.  Instead, make a safe u-turn and ride conservatively & smart.  We've had riders make 2 or 3 attempts before completing the Full Century at our Stagecoach desert century.  That's just fine.  Take it from us, a desert century is definitely in the "Century Earned" category.  There are no easy shortcuts.  Although it may go without saying,  all riders attempting the Full Century must prepare for PDC by training well in advance. 

    Below are the marked optional courses: 

       20 miles:  To Ave 48, turnaround, and back to the Start/Finish in Palm Desert 
       32 miles:  To Rest Stop 1, mile 16, Westside Elementary School, and to Palm Desert 
       50 miles:  To Rest Stop 2, mile 25, Desert Mirage High School, and back to Palm Desert
       60 miles:  To the Ave 66/Hwy 111 intersection, mile 30, and back to Palm Desert  
       70 miles:  To Rest Stop 3, mile 35, 4 miles east of Mecca at Box Canyon Rd, and back to Palm Desert 
       100 miles: To Rest stop 4, mile 50, at Chiriaco Summit and back to Palm Desert "Full Century" 

8.  Desert Plants:  As beautiful as the desert plants are, they are almost all of the cactus variety.  Watch out for the devilish plant called the "Jumping" Cholla Cactus.  These spiny little monsters dominate the desert floor.  DO NOT GO NEAR OR LEAN YOUR BIKES against these, as they will almost certainly leave you with painful thorns in your hands, arms, legs.  Not sure how they do it, but take our word, these plants are plain ole mean and to be avoided.  Rest Stops willl have bike racks set up, so please use them.  Or place your bicycle on the ground, but off the road surface.

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1.  Goals:  Many riders choose PDC to give themselves a tangible and worthy fitness or health goal.  These cyclists are typically less concerned with riding fast, or even with completing the full century distance.  It's more about having an enjoyable high quality desert ride, with less traffic, showcasing nature's beauty, with top-notch support.  Other riders are coming back from successful bouts with cancer, or various other illnesses.  Some riders have suffered losses in their lives and are seeking a way to help restore happiness.  Some riders have turned to cycling because injuries sustained in other sports limit their ability to enjoy extended pain-free aerobic activities.  Many riders also select PDC as part of a determined re-committment to improve overall health, lose excess weight, lower  blood pressure, or just get back into shape, feel better, and build self confidence. 

2.  Training:  All of these health and alternative reasons for participating in PDC are completely acceptable and encouraged.  Like so many of life's challenges, the path to achieving success begins with a personal commitment. A cool way to cement that commitment, is to establish a series of smaller goals. PDC is a worthy intermediate fitness/health goal.  The Full Century is even a worthy long term goal.  Riding at the PDC requires substantial invested effort, in the form of training, well in advance of the actual ride date. Each time a rider goes out for a training ride, the odds of success are advanced. That, in turn, builds self confidence and improves fitness at the same time. PDC offers numerous distances and degrees of difficulty, which allows each rider to select what works best for them, as individuals, in their larger health plan.

3. You're Not Alone: Even though many riders have intensely personal reasons for riding PDC, the event involves an elaborate supporting cast of wonderful people:  riders and volunteers. Starting in Palm Desert and all along the course, volunteers are staffing the Rest Stops.  They assist riders stay hydrated and "carbed up" the whole day. They'll do anything they can to help support you out on the course. Mechanics and SAG Wagons patrol the course should riders need assistance between Rest Stops. These support vehicles roam the course to help riders with mechanical issues, or any other issue requiring attention.  Everyone involved with supporting PDC is keenly aware of the extreme challenges riders face, physical and otherwise, and are there to help riders in the best way possible. They will be there for you. If you get a chance, please let them know they're doing a good job!

4. Select your distance: Review the Detailed Course description and Riders Levels then determine what course is right for you. Be sure to carefully read the Rider Instructions and review the Course Strip Map. Knowing what to expect on the ride lowers stress and improves confidence. All courses are on the same out-and-back route. This format allows flexibility should riders wish to turn back early.

5.  Congratulate Yourself!  Post ride, whatever your goal, whatever distance ridden, you acheived success and we congratulate your fine effort.  You should be proud of your accomplishment too!  Getting out there is what it's all about.  Being active, living a clean and healthy life, are absolutely worth the extra effort.  You're welcome to invite friends and family to share your experience by meeting you at the park.  Bring a blanket, bring a picnic basket.  Spread out on the grassy area and enjoy.  Bravo!   

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Veteran/Experienced Century Rider:

1.  Overview:  The PDC Full Century course is 50 miles out and 50 back in the low to mid elevations of the desert regions South and East of Palm Desert, CA.  The start in Palm Desert is at 214 feet above Sea Level.  The turnaround point, near Chiriaco Summit, at the East end of the course, is at an elevation of about 1,200 feet and is the highest point on the course.  The Full Century has a total of about 2,400 feet of vertical elevation gain, as recorded on a Garmin 705 GPS system.

The first 16 miles of the ride proceed East and South through well-developed desert cities of Palm Desert, Indio, and La Quinta.  In the cool early morning temps, this section will go by easily.  The elevation continues to very gradually decline to Mecca, at Mile 30.  Prevailing winds in the early morning are usually mild and will be tailwinds.  This early section has road surface which are good to very good.  There are dedicated Bike Lanes, or white lines with adequate space to safely ride to the right.  There is a short section on Tamrisk Row Way with less room for cyclists.  From Mile 16 to 30 the road is more narrow, with less room for cyclists.  Ride with extra caution.  Additionally, there are 2 “Red Zones”, areas of potential hazard.  The first is at the Ave 52 Traffic Circle on Jefferson St, at about mile 13 (87 on return).  The second Red Zone is the entire section of Box Canyon Rd in both directions.  Each Red Zone is marked and requires riders to reduce speeds to a maximum of 20 MPH, and all riders must ride single file, as far to the right as is safely possible.  The section from mile 35 to 50 is on Box Canyon Rd.  It climbs from an elevation of about 180 ft below Sea Level to 1,200 ft El in 15 miles.  The gradiant is about 1% and will not prove too challenging for most veteran riders.

2.  Difficulty:  The PDC is rated "Easy" under typical November seasonal weather conditions.  With only 2,400 ft of climbing, mostly concentrated on the 15-mile Box Canyon Rd, the elevation gains are not significant.   If wind or temperatures become more extreme, the century becomes more difficult.  Generally, mild winds and sunny/warm conditions prevail, see "Special Weather Consideratons" for past weather.  Under normal conditions it's still necessary to treat the ride with due respect, because of the cumulative effects of rising temps and winds through the day.  There's also dry desert air, which tends to dehydrates most riders unaccustomed to desert cycling.  Also, the back half of the ride is usually into headwind from Mecca, near mile 70 all the way back to Palm Desert.  Lastly, it's the time of year when most cyclists are not at their peak fitness levels.  Bottom line:  Never under-estimate the desert! 

3.  Weather:  Without a doubt, weather is the major environmental foe at PDC.  Because of the remote desert location, during the fall season, weather conditions vary widely, even within a single day.  

    A.  Clothing:  Riders need to be fully prepared for wind, cold/cool/warm/hot temps, sun, rain, and any combination of the above.  By prepared, we mostly mean be prepared for abnormally hot temperatures later in the day.  We recommend light layered clothing to start, such as high tech base layer under the jersey, arm warmers/coolers, and a light wind vest or long-sleeved parka.  These items may not be needed, but it’s highly recommended to bring them to the ride, just in case.  There is a gear drop at the Start and at Rest Stop 1.  Riders may place unneeded clothing items in a plastic bag provided by Vols, marked their Bib # and name.  Gear bags will be returned to the Start/Finish area at about 10:00 A.M.  Signs are posted to remind finishing riders to claim gear bags and the DJ will make many announcements.  Unclaimed gear bags will be sent back to riders upon receipt of $7 to cover shipping expenses.

    B.  Conditions:  Typical mid-Nov desert weather consists of cool morning temperature, 45-50 F, at the start, with 5-10 MPH tailwinds from the North and West, which build during the day.  In the afternoon, temperatures usually rise into the 70s and 80s F.  The East end of the course, near Mecca, is generally a few degrees cooler and hotter than the Start/Finish in Palm Desert, due to it's elevation 180 ft below Sea Level.  

    C.  Previous PDC Weather:

        2011:  TBA 
        2012:  TBA 
        2013:  TBA 
        2014:  TBA 
        2015:  TBA

    D.  PDC Comparisons:               Total            Vehicular      Natural             Overall 
                                            Elevation (ft)      Traffic         Scenery          Difficulty 
         Palm Desert Century          2,400             Avg to Low  Outstanding       Easy to Average
         Stagecoach Century          4,635             Minimal        Outstanding      Moderately Difficult
         Solvang Century               3,501              Average      Very Good         Average  
         Tour of Palm Springs          3,100             Minimal        Good                Easy
         Death Ride                       12,000+         Average       Outstanding      Very Difficult
         Breathless Agony              12,000+          Average        Outstanding     Very Difficult
         Tour De Poway                 5,217             High             Good               Average
         San Diego Century            4,331             High             Good                Average
         San Diego Gran Fondo        5,280             Average        Excellent          Difficult 

4.  Start to Rest Stop 1 (mile 16):  Veterans and experienced riders should expect cool desert air, remaining from overnight lows to linger when arriving in Palm Desert prior to the start.  First light is usually around 6:15 A.M. with the sun coming above the horizon around 6:45 A.M.  Winds are almost always from the North and can vary widely from mild to sustained 10-15 MPH, gusting higher, even at the start of the ride.  The first 16 miles to Rest Stop 1 is a very gradual descent with tailwinds.  Use extra caution at the Traffic Circle at Jefferson and Ave 52, near mile 12.  It's a RED ZONE in both directions, meaning ride single file, max speed of 20 MPH, and ride as far to the right as safely possible.  Flow directly North and South through the Traffic Circle.  Stay on Jefferson St.  It may not be used as a course turnaround point.  Watch for arrows marking the course.  Police will be there too.  Rest Stop 1 is in the front parking lot of the Westside Elementary School.  There's a full Rest Stop and portajohns.  Top off water bottles, take on some Vitalyte, and replenish carbohydrates with a wide variety of items from Clif Bars and Clif Shots to PB&J sandwiches.  The Gear Drop option is available until 10:00 A.M. if you wish to remove outer layers of clothing.  Don't camp out.  Forward progress is essential on a long desert ride.  Many veteran riders will by-pass Rest Stop 1, which is fine if all systems are "go".  But riders who by-pass RS1, we definitely recommend stopping at Rest Stop 2. 

5.  Rest Stop 1 to Rest Stop 2 (mile 25):  Following the Red Zone descent down Sweeney Pass, there is a generally calm section of riding for the next 10 miles.  That’s because the elevation drops back down to around 600 feet, so much of the wind dies down.  It's still there, but moving over the riders heads in this low valley.  By rest stop 2, past Agua Caliente, the elevation is back above 1,000 feet and winds come back into play.  Veteran riders are encouraged to stay in small single file pacelines to work this section together.  Once arriving at rest stop 2, at mile 25, all riders, even veterans, are encouraged to stop.  Top off water bottles, take on some Vitalyte and replenish carbs with a wide variety of items from Clif Bars to PB&J sandwiches.  Take care of the creature comforts too:  re-apply sunblock, lip balm, and Chamois Butt’r.   E-caps are also available, these glorified salt tablets, contain sodium, postasium, and magnesium, all great anti-cramp ingredients.  If you need it, there’s also Advil and a complete First Aid Kit at each rest stop.  There’s also a floor pump and a limited supply of tubes.   Be careful not to touch any desert plants, as they are almost all cactus-family and have all kinds of sharp thorns.  Be sure to put all trash into garbage bags at the rest stops.  Use only the portajohns as restrooms.  Make your rest stop productive, but don’t camp out…forward progress is very important at Stagecoach.  With limited light in January, there are several time cutoffs; refer to your Final Rider Instructions for specifics.  The next section of riding contains climbs up Campbell Grade and Box Canyon, so it’s important not to be lulled into a false sense of security by the ease of the course to rest stop 2.

6.  Rest Stop 2 to Rest Stop 3 (mile 35):  Expect some long sight lines heading East.  There will be major intersections with Traffic Signals.  At the intersection of Ave 66 and Hwy 111 (Grapefruit), full century riders will need to make a left turn, then quick right onto 4th Ave, over the railroad tracks, and another quick right on Hammond Rd coming into Mecca.  This is a busy intersection and riders need to be on High Alert watching for traffic and following arrows to stay on course.  CHP will be on site, but are there as a Law Prescence, not to control traffic.  As always, follow the Rules of the Road and ride safely navigating this section in both directions.  From Hammond Rd, go about 1/4 mile South, and turn left onto Ave 66 and continue East.  About 4 miles East of Mecca, just past the canal, is Rest Stop 3 (mile 35).  This is also the Starting point for the Optional Time Trial (TT).  If you are participating in the TT be sure your Timing Chip is in place on your ankle.  All riders are encouraged to use the Rest Stop supplies and portajohns, as applicable.  There are no rest stops until the top of Chiraco Summit, 15 miles East, so be sure to get topped off on fluids.  The grade up to Chiriaco Summit is very gradual.  If there's still a tailwind, many riders will ride at 15 to 20+ MPH most of the way up.  Use caution on this remote stretch of road.  Announce when passing other riders and when vehicles are coming up from behind.  Ride as far to the right as safely possible and ALWAYS ride single file.  Note the road surface is rough in places.   Keep that in mind for later, when you are descending.  The summit is a long false top.  Hang tough!  The TT Finish Line will seem to take forever to come into view, but its not moving away from you!  When you hit the TT Finish Line, that's also the 50-mile turnaround point for Full Century Riders.  Follow the Volunteer instructions.  Come to a full and safe stop past the line, before making a u-turn into the Rest Stop 4 on the North side of the road.  TT Riders must turn-in Timing Chips inside the Finish Chute, BEFORE MAKING THE U-TURN.  Be very careful to check for vehicles and other riders before crossing the road.  For riders who opted for lunch at the turnaround point, it's co-located at the Rest Stop.  Just show the Vols your wristband (it will be removed).  All Full Century Riders, including TT Riders, NEED TO HAVE THEIR WRISTBANDS VALIDATED.  This proves you made it to the halfway point. At the Finish Line in Palm Desert, you will need to show the validated wristband in order to get credit for completing the Full Century.  For TT participants, your times will be posted back in Palm Desert.  Do not disturb CEP Timing Staff at the TT Finish Line!  CHP will be patrolling Box Canyon Rd, but the road is not closed and there will be light vehicle traffic in both directions.

7.  Return Ride:  After a capping the first 50 miles with a long 15-mile climb, be sure to rehydrate with water and Vitalyte, and replenish energy supplies with lots of carbohydrates.  Stretch out your quads, hams, and lower back.  Make your last check a quick once-over of your bicycle brakes, handbars, and stem.  Make sure all are in perfect working condition before rolling down Box Canyon Rd.  Since there's timing of the overall course, there's absolutely no reason to bomb down Box Canyon Rd.  You've earned a repreive, enjoy it.  Just take it easy. Soft peddle, or evenfree-wheel it, back down to Rest Stop 5 at mile 65.  Be very alert for uneven road surfaces, sand on the road surface, and foreign objects, like rocks and turtles.  Also, be extra careful of vehicles.  There will be wide, slow-moving (sometimes fast-moving too, unfortunately) RV's on Box Canyon in both directions.  There is no white line, so it's necessary to slow down and move as far to the right as safely possible when being overtaken by vehicles.  If you need to pass other riders, clearly announce "Passing" and "On your right".  Only pass after checking to insure no vehicles are behind you.  As you begin the descent, you'll see the striking ridgeline of the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mt's directly ahead in the distance.  Near the bottom of the hill, there are a couple short sections with fantastic views out to the Salton Sea.  At the bottom of Box Canyon Rd, is Rest Stop 5 (mile 65).  From Rest Stop 5, the rest of the westbound return ride is a mirror-image of the course.  Use all the same care and attention as you did riding East bound.  Be aware of the Rest Stop and Course Cut-off Times described in your Rider Instructions.  Never let your guard down, even when you re-enter the pristine golf courses in La Quinta.  Enjoy the last 15 miles of the ride, but be more vigilent of traffic and weary riders returning from several different distances.  You're the veterans, so Lead By Example.  Call out your turns, point out debris, stop to help new riders if the are in distress.  Ride with Pride and stay alert all the way to the Finish Line.

9.  Palm Desert Finish Line:  Turning right from Frank Sinatra Dr onto College Dr is your last turn.  The South land is closed for riders, but that lane is shared by rider possibly riding in both directions, so stay to the right side.  Inside the Finish Chute, SLOW DOWN!  Heed Vol's instructions.  Announce "Stopping" when over the Finish Line.  Safely dismount your bicycle.  Vols will be handing out Finisher's Medals, make sure you get yours.  Full Century Riders (including TT Riders) need to report in to the Volunteer at the Finish Line to show your validated wristband and be recorded as a FULL CENTURY FINISHER.  Immediately after that PICK UP YOUR GEAR BAG if you left one.  Do it right away, so you don't forget it.  The portajohns and park restrooms are probably your next stop.  For riders opting for Lunch in Palm Desert, your Subway Lunch Meal is waiting for you under the large canopy on the basketball court.  Show your wristbands to the vols, if in doubt.  After feasting, riders are invited to relax with friends and family in the grassy area.  Bring a blanket and spread out.  Enjoy the Expo and live music.  Please try to visit all the Sponsor and Exhibitor booths.  There will also be a special booth by the Reg Tent for Volunteers and their charities.  They will have a donation jar.  It's a nice way to say "Thanks" to the Vol's for all their help at the Rest Stops! 100% of all donations go directly to the charities. 

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