Bicycling Stockton and San Joaquin County; Tour of California offers inspiration!

 

LSD ("long, slow distance") riders peddle north up DeVries Road, headed for Lodi wine country. This ride is usually held the first Saturday of the month by the San Joaquin Bike Coalition.

Second Saturday Family Rides usually start at University of Pacific and peddle portions of the Calaveras Bike Trail; here a group stops at Buckley Cove Park for a photo.
Cyclists met on the Stockton Calaveras Bike Trail near UOP for a recent group ride.
Cyclists doing a group ride aroiund the downtown Stockton historical district.
A couple of cool riders prepare to depart University of Pacific for the San Joaquin Bike Festival in September.

A recent Record article highlighted Lodi’s “tour de force” – landing the second stage of the Amgen Tour of California this May, the US’s most prestigious bicycle race.

Take a moment to consider the positive aspects this event attracting the world’s best cyclists will bring to bicycling in our city and county. 

Local media are publicizing and building excitement, leading right up to the start of the tour on May 10.  The tour starts with stage one in downtown Sacramento; stage two starts in Nevada City and finishes in Lodi at Hutchins Street Square on the afternoon of May 11, in front of a crowd estimated to top 20,000!

A bright light will be shone on that pretty country, and our Lodi vineyards and orchards, as the tour winds its way to Lodi.  And, the Tour also coincides with “Bike to Work Month” – that local event will help energize people to continue riding long after the tour itself fades into memory.

Also consider that some of the nicest months for riding occur in the months following May – we have pretty nice riding weather almost year-round.

As for safe riding and scenic options, look to the area to the west, north and east of Lodi for scores of quiet back-country roads through beautiful vineyards and orchards, and search other cities (like Stockton’s website) for it’s map of bike trails, bike lanes and relatively safe cycling routes.

We asked several local bike advocates for their suggestions for new or veteran riders.  Kari McNickle, President of the San Joaquin Bike Coalition noted, “Bike to Work Month events (May) offer a variety of incentives to begin, or resume, riding.

Of particular note: the Stockton event (May 13) will feature guided “bike pools” for those wishing to ride with a buddy, and the Lodi event (May 14) will include a short ride led by city manager Steve Schwabauer.

Bike to Work Week offers the usual prize drawing incentive/Bike Month challenge as well for anyone who pledges to ride at least one day in May. Details can be found at:  http://www.valleybikecommute.com/the-2015-challenge.html

Stockton’s Miracle Mile will be hosting a “Bike Week”, May 17-23, with merchant specials for those arriving on bike. The Miracle Mile’s Third Thursday Wine Stroll on May 21 will also offer bike valet parking and $5 off wine stroll tickets for cyclists.

Bike to Work Month is a great opportunity for people to try biking or walking to work, whether they’re new to it, old pros, or even just out of the habit and want to get back in it. We hope to encourage people towards happier, healthier commutes”.

She adds, “the Bike Coalition’s Best Ride Ever, Saturday, May 9, is a great introductory road ride.  It’s the most fun you can have on 2 wheels for $35 dollars! Plus, great food, music and cool shirt, all at Lange Twins Winery!”.

Kristine Williams, Exec Director of the Bike Coalition, shared her favorite rides, “my experience in riding centers more on commuting routes since I use my bike to get around town more than recreational riding.

Midtown Stockton offers some of the nicest urban routes in the city. Baker, Kensington or Allston offer good north/south alternatives to Pershing and Pacific avenues and give a nice tour of the different neighborhood architectural styles. You’re also likely to run into a park or two along the way (e.g. American Legion, Caldwell or Victory on the west side of Pershing). The wider streets and less traffic make for calm riding – a good choice for those looking to learn to ride with traffic.

The Calaveras River Bike Trail, just north of UOP, provides one of the city’s only separated bike routes and is a great east/west ride. On weekends you’ll be in good bicycling company. The separation from the road makes this ride a good choice for those with kids as well.  The San Joaquin Bike Coalition leads free monthly rides for newer cyclists as well as veterans, emphasizing safe and fun cycling in the county and the city of Stockton”.

Several other favorite local rides: From Bear Creek High School, ride North up Thornton Road to DeVries Road.  That route takes you into Lodi wine country, with destinations such as Thornton or the Cosumnes River Preserve.  Not to be overlooked, Manteca and Tracy also offer quiet city streets and bike trails for new or veteran riders!

Additional cycling favorites are just north:

  •    American River Bike Trail, Old Sacramento to beyond Folsom Lake.
    • Sacramento River Parkway; start in Redding at the iconic Sun Dial Bridge, ride to Shasta Dam.
    • The Bizz Johnson Trail runs from Westwood to Susanville in Lassen County.

Here are a few safe cycling rules to live by:

• Be aware of new CA law that requires motorists to give cyclists 3 feet when they pass, but realize many drivers don’t know or won’t follow the law.  As a rider, obey the law (ride with traffic, not on the sidewalk; stop at stop signs, red lights).
• Youth under 18 must wear a helmet (state law); adults are advised to do the same!
• Study your city’s bike lanes/paths and, while driving, pick out safe, low-traffic cycling routes; by the same token, check your bike’s tires and brakes before setting out!
• Wear bright colors and invest in a rear-view mirror, or eyeglasses mirror (you’ll have some margin of safety seeing drivers approaching you from behind).
• Use hand signals when turning, so motorists know your intentions.
• Never assume a driver approaching, or on a side street, sees you until you make eye contact with the driver. When passing parked cars, watch for a sudden door-opening!

For more info: Amgen Tour of California, www.amgentourofcalifornia.com; Bike to Work Week events, www.valleybikecommute.com/the-2015-challenge.html; City of Stockton bike routes, http://www.stocktongov.com/files/BikewaysExistingMap.pdf; San Joaquin Bike Coalition, “like” their Facebook page and see their web site, www.sjbike.org.

Next week, highlights of a recent visit to Yosemite and Hetch Hetchy; see what the valleys look like in a very dry spring!  For other inspirational destinations in CA, see my Record blog: blogs.esanjoaquin.com/valleytravel!

Happy travels in the West!

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