Borrego Blast

Bob Smith

Kirk and Trudie Newell of Romano, CA have been inviting tandem teams to join them in Borrego Springs for a weekend of riding and socializing since January 2001. We arrived mid Friday afternoon with enough daylight to check out the small town center and pick up a couple bottles of wine. We had dinner with Mavis and Bob O’Connor from Fort Collins. We met Mavis and Bob via email through tandem friends Kami and White of Boulder.

On Saturday, January 21 more than 40 tandem teams and several single bikes gathered at the Borrego Springs Resort for the 10th Anniversary of the Borrego Blast  The weather forecast was high winds. Kirk flipped the Saturday and Sunday ride schedules to avoid the wind as much as possible. Most teams opted for the longer 30 mile Yaqui Pass – Texas Dip Loop. For the most part the wind wasn’t much of an issue until we hit the Texas Dip near the end of ride. We turned off at the resort rather than ride the out and back to lunch. After showering and changing clothes we drove to the Red Ocotillo at the retro Palms Hotel for lunch. The dining room was full so we opted to sit on the patio which is covered and shielded on three sides. We enjoyed the food and swapping tandem stories several other teams in the midst of a sand storm and flying debris. Charley and Al a local team had invited everyone to their home for a pot luck style happy hour. The very high winds took out most of the power lines in the town and the happy hour was moved to the large meeting room at the resort. Considering nearly everyone had traveled to the event the happy hour was quite sufficient and actually served as dinner.

On Sunday we had overcast skies, mild temperatures and nearly no wind. The resort was very accommodating allowing checkouts as late as 2:00 p.m. so most teams could do the 45 mile Salton Sea Overlook Ride. We rode with a group of about 15 teams that included Mavis and Bob. Due to overcast and airborne dust we could not see the Salton Sea from the overlook. The return route took us back into town where we had lunch with Mavis and Bob at the Pablitos Mexican Grill.

We decided to stay Sunday night so we’d have time to explore the area by car. After lunch we drove out to for a closer look at the sculptures we had seen on our rides. The sculptures are all bare steel sheet metal left to rust & weather in the desert. The first sculptures were animals of the Paleozoic Era all of which were native to the Anza-Borrego Desert. Proof of this can be found on display at the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Visitor Center. Later sculptures were of reptiles of the earlier Jurassic Era, which there is no fossil proof to date that they existed in the area. The newest sculptures take on a more whimsical theme including sculptures of a Spanish Padre, a giant dragon and a 1946 CJ-3A. After taking photos of the many of the sculptures we headed over to the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Visitor Center searching for more information about the artist and landowner of Galleta Meadows Sky Art. We found a large coffee table-size hardback book titled “Ricardo Breceda | Accident Artist” by Diana Lindsay. We purchased the book and began to immediately read it on the drive back to Tucson. The book is a fascinating read about the life of Ricardo Breceda born in Durango, Mexico and how he became the accidental artist and how Galleta Meadows Sky Art was born. Dennis Avery (Avery Labels) owns the once vacant desert which now holds 129 rustic metal sculptures. To learn more about Ricardo Breceda and Galleta Meadows Sky Art go to the following websites: 

We thought we were off to just another weekend ride with a bunch of tandem riders and we discovered a desert full of animals from the Paleozoic Era. In our opinion Diana Lindsay’s book is well worth having in your home. Kids of all ages will love the photos and Ricardo’s story is an excellent read. If you ever intend to visit Borrego Springs, it contains a complete guide, description and maps to the locations of each sculpture. We plan to return to Borrego Springs next JAN for the next Borrego Blast and ride our tandem again amongst the prehistoric animals. Back in the 1950s Borrego Springs could have become Palm Springs. We are very thankful that those efforts failed.

 To view of our photos go to

December 2011 Issue - Vol 5 Issue 1, 1 February 2012

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