Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Sacramento Bike Trail (2014)

(June 17, 2014) Sacramento Bike Trail, Solo in small ring, 74 1/2 miles, 1,500', 15.1mph, 79-92 degrees 
Starting at CA State Sacramento follow blue arrows to Folsom Lake, follow yellow arrows via Dam and Prision and Historic Downtown Folsom back to the trail.  Continue with yellow arrows past the college to Old Town Sacrament.  Green arrows back to the college.
  Miles Elevation Gain
College-Nimbus 15.47 226
Nimbus-Lake 9.20 561
Lake  Piddle Around 1.20 30
Lake-Folsom 7.96 217
Folsom-Nimbus 5.55 167
Nimbus-College 15.25 151
College-Old Town 9.51 52
Old Town-College 10.35 92
 Summary 74.49 1,496


I rode naked today! 

I love the Sacramento Bike Trail.  It's worlds apart from the multiuse trail in Walnut Creek that is filled with earphone zoned out joggers, baby strollers and dogs on extend leashes.  Or the Antioch multiuse trail that gets no use due to no trees and lots of glass and goat head plants.  Or the trail in Danville that crosses a street every 200'.  The Sacramento bike trail is for exclusive use of bicycles--joggers/ walkers have to use the dirt cutout at the side.   It is well shaded, runs along the American River, and is well maintained.  Plenty of bathrooms and places to get water.  There is a crossing about every 4 miles (for rafters to get to the river) and for most crossing the cyclists have the right of way. 
Make sure to find a parking spot in the shade.

Golden Gate Bridge replica crosses American River to bike path.

Bike path nice and shady in the morning (@10:30) around college.  Note weed abatement on both sides of bike path, which is where walkers, hikers, joggers, runners should be.

I start at the State College which is 10 miles from one end of the trail at Old Town Sacramento (the other end is at Folsom Lake.) This way I can shorten the 74 1/2 mile route by 20 miles if I want to call it a day.  Plenty of shaded parking at the State College for a $6 permit--and do get into the shade as Sacramento temperatures can easily climb over 100 degrees. 

The 10 miles from Sacramento State to Old Town used to be a little ratty.  Instead of doing piecemeal trail repair, much of the 8* mile section has been rebuilt a little higher than the old trail--which made for a nice ride.  (*The bike path  to Old Town is 8 miles, with each mile stenciled onto the trail--then there is an additional  2 mile trail ride that doesn't count in the numbering scheme) 

Read the fn message, it only appears every 200' on the bike path.
On the other hand, on most rides the sanctity of the cyclist has been well preserved but today idiots abound on the bike trail.  Immediately after crossing over to the trail two old ladies were walking side by side and blocking the bike trail.  About four additional times families or teens were doing the same thing, which is four times more than usual.   Wonder if there was just a full moon or a growing number of people don't give a shit. 

I started going East towards Folsom which is a little over 15 miles and virtually flat to the Nimbus overcrossing.   My goal was to keep in the small chain ring today for a non taxing tapering ride before Alta Alpina--luckily I took my GT with regular gearing so the small chain ring is x39.  I didn't bother throwing on the Powertap wheel; today was cadence work where my goal was to keep over 80 rpm.  You laugh--everyone can keep over 80 rpm but I have a lousy cadence and I love to push big gears, but I am trying to change and become more efficient.  GT is also good as I could load up a rack bag with tons of stuff for a long self-supported ride.

In any event you can't go too fast on the bike trail.   15mph is the posted max--I expected a few cyclists on tri setups to go by at 24-25mph as usual, and to see many more people tooling down the road on cruiser bikes at 11mph.  Unfortunately, the later group usually has a need to ride 2-3 across and block the road (kinda like a mini-Death Ride with the turkeys riding 3-4 across and blocking Ebbets.)  While the trail is very flat there are a few sudden curves and "S" curves--and with the slow groups and joggers who can't read and stay on the path, 18-20 is a good maximum speed. 

Oh yeah the naked part.  I have a partially torn ACL and always have to bandage my knee--for stability on climbs or to prevent it from freezing up when it gets cool (cool like in 75 degrees.)  Last time I did a whole ride without my knee wrapped was in 2005 or 06 and I paid dearly for not wrapping it.   So since then I haven't ridden naked, but figured today was a good day for my knee to catch some rays as it would be warm and virtually flat.

Ride became interesting right away when two wankers came by thrashing on the pedals without saying anything.  Now, I already get po'd about this, and the Sacramento bike trail is narrow and at times curvy, and it best shout out a warning.  Not these guys--so I had some fun.  Staying in the small ring I caught up to them and stayed about 6' back (didn't want to draft) with my bike hi-fi going.  At first they both started thrashing some more trying to pick up speed, and then kept looking back and changing who was pulling their two man.   This went on for two miles with me just sitting 6' back, and they were kinda comical stomping on the pedals, and first time the road went up (as in maybe 2%) I just kicked it in gear and didn't see them again.  This happened two more times on the ride. 
Wanker's 1 & 2 thrashing down the bike path

Now its wanker 2 & 1.  Wish I would have gotten photo when these guys looked back, as they kept doing.


After the Nimbus Overcrossing, which is a little tricky to follow as the bike trail climbs over a bridge and then loops under the bridge, it is 9 miles to the lake but with almost 3x as much climbing as the earlier/ longer segment (560' vs 225'.)  Again, relatively flat but many of the people who just like to pound the flats don't come over to this side.  Historic downtown Folsom is off this section but I figured I'd loop on the main road later to Folsom on the return trip form the lake..
Selfie on high Nimbus overcrossing that is the first (small) climb of the day and a bit confusing.  Eventually you go UNDER the overcrossing and loop under the busy street.


A few more uphill miles and I arrive at the Folsom lake rec area which used to have a large beach.  Well, I guess it still does.  The lake was as shallow as Dr. Dave and I saw in the fall--but they moved the lifeguard chairs down (a quarter mile?) to the water’s edge--with life preservers hanging nearby.  I sent Dave a photo and he quipped "are those to prevent the kids from drowning in the dirt"
A public service message

In past years the water in Folsom Lake would be 50' from the sign, not 600'.

Folsom picnic areas was empty.  A Hispanic trio rolled in on Colnagos and we had a good conversation about training and hard rides.   Then I took off to ride past Folsom Dam, Folsom Prison, and into downtown Folsom--knowing fully well that most times due to construction that this alternate  route isn't available.  But truth be told, the out and back on the bike path is nicer.

In front of Folsom dam

Pedestrian bridge from Folsom back to the bike path.

Prison road ahead--check out the handcuffs on the sign

Stopped briefly in a good bike store in Folsom.  Unfortunately what I need they no longer make (eg. Shower Pass Clear Vest, Time Impact Pedals...)   Trip back is a little faster with almost no climbing, and less bikes on the trail so less 3 side by side "bike boulders" blocking the road. 

One almost mishap, a nice looking jogger and a mountain biker  in front of me and the mountain biker kept turning his head and tracking the jogger and turning his head--and he continued to go straight while the trail turned.   He caught himself before going off the road and corrected.  When I passed him I said nicely "you can't be looking at joggers that long" to laughter. 
Keep your eyes on the road

Passed College with 54 miles in and enjoying the very warm weather (mid 90's tops--I've done this ride when its 110 degrees)  and not tired from taking it so easy.   #1 reason to go to Old Town is best soft serve ice cream--my adult daughter will be jealous once she found out I went to what once was here favorite place.  I didn't know the ratty trail to Old Town has been redone.

Man, was I surprised.  They rebuilt a major portion of the trail and moved it further from the river bank.  I took a photo of a passing train and a passing cyclist called out, so we rode together until he split to downtown and I continued to Old Town.  The trail could be better marked through Discovery Park where there is one bridge that's a combo pedestrian/ auto bridge (autos are just going to theparking lot)--then its about a mile along the river to Old Town.

Sign heading towards Discovery Park which lots of people in Discovery park ignore.

Bridge to get out of Discovery Park and towards Old Town

Scene from Old Town and the Sacramento River

Multi flavor soft serve

The bike hi-fi on the Old Town cobbles

Sacramento River

Leaving Old Town, nice day of riding

After soft serve and ice water it was time for the 10 mile return.   Now a few AARP groups were out riding 3 across.  An AARP trio bolder was far down the road and a fast cyclist is in front of me was fast approaching them, but didn't have room to pass.   When I came along I called "on your left," no one moved, and I rode down the yellow center strip with a crit elbow out.  The faster cyclist got on my wheel and I pulled her until we got back to the mini-Golden gate Bridge.  "My stop" -the ride was suddenly over.

Really nice day.  The State of California could increase some signage when the bike path crosses a roadway--sometimes it’s hard to pick up the path.  They also could increase the signage saying "hikers-stay the F off the bike path."  Maintenance and design is first rate and what an enjoyable way to go from Sacramento to Folsom with only a couple of  intersections to navigate. 

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