Mayberry Hill and Sprague Heights


Bicycling in the Valley, Part VI:

Or, “I found my thrill, on Mayberry Hill . . .”

Mayberry Hill is a good challenge for someone who wishes for a challenge—a challenge to your cardio-pulmonary level, to your inclination for bicycling, to your desire to speed down after a grueling ascent. At the top are spectacular views of the valley looking west. Directly below are orange groves. Around you are beautiful houses done in individualized architectural styles.

Ramona Expressway starts far away in Perris, but dead ends in Highway 74. I join it after a twelve-minute ride from my house. I find after turning left on the 74 a shrine to a dead man, just before I hit Seventh St. I stop. It is to ‘Bobby’. There is an oval shaped ring formed by half logs arranged in the ground. From the ring a cross rises, topped with a top hat. Many decorations accompany the shrine: a photograph of Bobby, and many ‘Happy Father’s Day’ wishes. Below the photo are white, Baroque style statues of angels and of Jesus. After I continue right onto Fairview, I ride for a minute and reach Mayberry.

Mayberry Hill looms up to the east and dominates the horizon. The incline increases as houses increase in beauty. Just as the challenge to those with fear of heights not to look down from a height, I prefer not to look up as I pedal up this hill—it is too intimidating. When you reach the aqueduct, you are about half way there. As I stand up and pedal, I see the orange grove on my right, a cinder block wall in ruins. Oddly, the split rail fence is intact! Masks lie discarded on the ground, like everywhere else—O, would that we could discard the governor’s edicts as well!

The first rest is about five minutes up. Upon accessing the Heights, there is a magnificent view from Rio Vista (Spanish for ‘River View’, except there is no river to see, unless I am mistaken. There is a San Jacinto River, and it does flow, albeit in a predetermined way, the residents of the valley presumably long ago having tired of unpredictable flooding); the second rise is another four minutes.

Now return! Nothing but wind in my hair on the winding road down. How fast? I don’t know exactly. I would guess thirty miles an hour. This may not seem like a lot, but try crashing at half that speed! Altogether from Fairview St. to the top: about twelve minutes; the sailing down Mayberry: about six minutes from the top all the way down. Total time from home and back: about seventy minutes. Now the good news: since I first wrote this, I improved my time to fifty-nine minutes!

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