Thursday, August 2, 2012

Sacramento Bike Trail & Auburn Century

Century #25 (July 31, 2012) Sacramento Bike Trail-Folsom Auburn Road Century, me, me, me, & me, 95.5 miles, 14.7mph, 0 climbing miles except for useless detour to Rattlesnake Bar Boat Launch and right before Auburn.

Good article in Road Bike Action Magazine (9/2012, p.54) by Dr. Jonathan Edwards, who was the (American) fill in team physician for the French Ag2R team in the Tour of California.   Its about how to take precautions when it is hot and the different attitude between American riders, who believe in taking precautions to decrease core temperature, and Europeans, who believe in just letting the body adapt to the conditions.  Ag2R was adverse to using sunblock early in the day, drinking anything with ice (believing it upset ones stomach), turned down ice socks and post ride ice baths and coconut water.  

Well, I use sunblock early and Christine turned me on to post ride coconut water, but I really do believe in letting the body adapt to heat.  Our air conditioner button is broken in our house and in my car.  Our first house, when the kids were growing up, didn't have a/c and most of our cars did not.  In our current house we'd turn on the a/c when the kids lived here and it was over 100--but it was a pain in the ass closing all the windows and in our upside down house it was still warm in most of the common rooms (upstairs) while freezing downstairs.  Since the kids moved out no a/c used.   And my car has a sun roof.

For readers out of the area--the dry 100 degree California heat isn't that bad; more comfortable than a humid 80 degrees back east.    The 100 degrees is usually accompanied by a high, cloudless sky, where it feels 115 in the sun so shade is important.

Back in 1998 I was so cute--as lots of people I  saw that day on the 40 mile ride with my daughter on the American River Bike Trail said "oh how cute."  No one says that now
All this rambling is getting to my ride in the Sacramento area, home of the 60 miles Sacramento bike trail from downtown Sacramento to Folsom.   The trail is dedicated to cycling only (runners can use the side dirt path) and runs along the American River to Folsom Lake.  It is heavily tree lined so about 40% is in the shade.  Sacramento County and California State do a great job of maintenance, no cracks in the pavement, no glass on the road, goatheads and other weeds cut back 10' away from the road.   I try to get up there once a year--long ago I did 40 miles with my small daughter.   Only problem is that Sacramento-Auburn is like an oven in the summer.

July 31 highs
Auburn 95 (18% humidity)
Sacramento 97 (16% humidity)
Antioch 97 (15% humidity)
Walnut Creek 89 (26% humidity)--bike clubs home base
Oakland 69 (59% humidity)
Half Moon Bay 63 (85% humidity)--on the ocean

New York City 78 (64% humidity)
Washington DC 89 (50% humidity)

Outside temperature is the lower number, the higher number is inside the car.
I start the bike trail at mile 8--by Sacramento State College.    The 8 miles to Sacramento is usually not kept up as well as the trail to Folsom.  Made sure I parked under a big shade tree at the college, and ride starts by crossing the American River on a Golden Gate Bridge replica. 

Bridge by Sac State that crosses American River and gets you on bike trail
Trail to the Nimbus Crossing is almost flat, and the speed limit is 15 which is virtually ignored.  (Maybe not on weekends when kids are out but midweek trail is not crowded.)    Expect some people in tri setups to come speeding by.  I'm trying to just put in easy miles--so to ensure I don't do something goofy and try to race I take my travel bike with S&S couplings.  Its 4 lbs heavier than my usual bike NOT tricked out.    WITHOUT the handlebar bag or bottles...

Jamis S&S w/ saddle bag...24 lbs, 2 oz
Litespeed w/ saddle bag.....20 lbs, 8 oz (non race wheels)

So during Mt Tam Double, with lighter bike, race wheels and no handlebar bag I'll lose close to 7 lbs then my setup today.

At 9:30 out is already warm in the sun, and stop within 5 miles to get more water and put on suntan lotion on the spots I missed.  Also had to adjust my mini pump that had fallen off and fix the water bottle holder, that were to fn tight for the Polar Bottles.  That's what I get for getting some goofy orange bottle holders that I put on the night before, and then didn't test them or the mini-pump holder out.  There is a bathroom & water about every 5 miles, along with controlled intersections of roads leading from parking lots to the river.

One guy comes up and starts talking to me about rides, he's pining to do the Death Ride.    Nice guy wearing a Team in Training Jersey, which I wouldn't hold against him. (for their MO of  riding 4 across the road and Whiny Mike from my old club supposedly being a Team In Training mentor.)  Give him the usual Death Ride tips and find out what he's done--he had done the Sierra Century 100 mile route, and had been wiped out but was stoked when I told him how hard the course is.    He complained that being in Sacramento he can't find hills to ride--so I suggested to drive to Sutter Creek or Auburn and ride from there.

I tried to keep a constant 18-19 and playing music on my bike stereo.  Bitched to myself every time I had to fight to get a water bottle out of the tight tight holder.  Some cyclists going the other way smiled and waved--others looks sooooo serious and avoided eye contact at all cost. 

(top) I'm by Nimbus Overcrossing (bottom) Lake Natoma
They improved the Nimbus Crossing that takes you from the South side of the river to the North side so you never have to get off the trail.  Long stretch along Lake Natoma, which is a little more rolling that the first section.  Suddenly an old iron bridge which brings you right into oldtown Folsom--which has a nice bike shop (Bicycles Plus) which is full of accessories.  I eyed some new water bottle holder--some side loading ones looked interesting, but had to think if I wanted to spend $$$$ on bottle cages that would get crushed if I took the S&S bike (S&S couplings so frame can be taken apart and put in a regular suitcase.)

Bike trail bridge to Folsom
Back to the bike trail which is now has a real climb at Folsom Prison and up to the Folsom Dam--a 340' high structure.    There used to be a road on top of the dam CLOSED to bikes.   After 9/11 it was eventually closed to cars also and a new over crossing was put before the dam--which had always been closed to bikes due to construction whenever I was there.  I was looking forward to using it on my return trip today.

Folsom Lake was the end of the bike trail , 24 miles from where I started.  The lake beach wasn't crowded, and the snack bar was open.   I ordered a fruit smoothie which came with a huge glob of whipped cream on the top which I had the apologetic barista remove.  Had that with my peanut/ pumpkin butter sandwich.

Picnic area at the end of the bike trail-Folsom Lake

Distance on American River Bike Trail from Folsom, looks like Tea Party adopted this bike trail
Folsom-Auburn Road out to Auburn is slightly uphill, and has lots of traffic for awhile.  Granite Bay community appears, lots of McMansions with no Bay in sight.  Then traffic lessens and horse farms appear.

I saw a sign for Rattlesnake Bar, Folsom Lake--cool I thought, I can ride down and get a view of the lake far from beach I was at for my rest stop.  So I start going down a nicely paved but narrow road with ranches on each side.  Where is the lake?  A few miles later I wasn't going to turn around as I was almost out of water and would refill at the rest area.  Finally pass the fee gate which indicates there is a boat launch.  Pass the vault toilet that has NO water fountain.  See the boat launch, which basically goes into a stream--there is NO view of the lake. 

(top) Temperature at feed store going down to Rattlesnake Bar (middle) pass Comisky Park which I always thought was in Chicago, (bottom) no big oh wow view of the lake here
Long climb up--only commercial business on the road--a feed store--has no feed for humans.  Shortly long uphill toward Auburn where I drained both my bottles.  Luckily right after the hill is a 7-11 with goofy prices where you can get 2 bottles of drink for the price of one.  Luckily I had taken electrolyte mix with me on the ride today.  More wrestling with the bottles to get them out of the cage.

Shorter downhill to Auburn--the old domed Courthouse is the most outstanding feature.   I go straight to the old town section where another goof bike store-Victory Velo--awaits.  I decide on getting the side loading bottle cages after testing and seeing my bottles easily go in and out of them--and then I put them on in a shaded side alley.

(top) bottle cage change midride (bottom) in Auburn outside Victory Velo
Now only at @mile 50 and it will be a shorter ride back without doing the Rattlesnake Bar detour.   It will also be a much faster ride as hill out of Auburn is much shorter than the one coming in--so nice long downhill and then most of Auburn-Folsom Road is now generally downhill.  Bottle cages are great though I got one facing left and the other faces right--but I quickly drain my bottles.  Never hit 100 but it has been constantly in high 90's for hours.  I pull into a Shell Quickmart and don't want to lock up my bike so I take it in the store.  Salesperson jumps out and I expect a "we don't allow bikes in the store.." but instead says "our cash register just went down so we can't sell you anything." but lets me fill bottles with ice and water, and again luckily I had taken drink mix. 

This allows me to bypass the beach area at Folsom Lake and I head over to the new over crossing with a bike path that has always been closed on the side.  But today it is open and get a nice view of Folsom Dam.  Eventually bike down East Natoma past the prison entrance (nothing to see) and a bunch of strip malls, where I go through the historic downtown and back across the old iron bridge to the Sacramento bike trail.

Across from Folsom Dam
Been riding easy and stopping to take photos all day, but after hours in 90+ degrees I'm pooped.  Now constant speed is 17-18 and I'm tired of the S&S Travel Bike.  The headtube is too long so I feel like I'm much to upright, the components are 2 levels below my good bike so shifting is clunky, and it accelerates like a truck.   Seemingly stop at every 2nd water stop to refill bottles.

Late afternoon on American River bike trail
Get close to the College turn off but only have 92 miles--so to make it an official century (95 miles count, as its the length of the Chico Wildflower and half the distance of the Solvang Double) I ride an extra 1 1/2 miles down the road.   Didn't recall the golf course that runs alongside the bike path--figured I'd get injured by an errant golf ball. 

Car luckily still sitting nicely in shade.  I was intending to try a masala dosa at a nearby restaurant that some Sacto weekly said best veggie food in Sacramento, but really didn't have an appetite so just downed protein drink and coconut water and on the drive home got a diet coke and ice cream sandwich that was perfect. 

Unfortunately, just like after doing the Marin Century the other day, my calf is bugging me post ride.  Though doctor said I didn't have to use compression socks when sleeping--compression socks and heating pad are back in business.

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