Bicycling Stockton and San Joaquin County; favorite rides and Stockton Bike Festival, September 26

Adult and youth cyclists prepare to depart the University of Pacific campus prior to the 2013 Bike Fest.

Bike Fest celebrants depart the University of Pacific campus bound for historic downtown Stockton at start of the 2013 Stockton Bike Festival.

Sam's Market, on the Delta north of Tracy, is a favorite refueling stop of Matt Beckwith!

Shadow rider follows the Weston Ranch Bike Trail, a favorite of Matt Beckwith.

A group of family riders takes a break at Buckley Cove Park, a favorite loop of Kari McNickle.

Group of LSD riders ("long, slow distance") heads north on Lower Sacramento Road north of Lodi, part of the first-Saturday monthly LSD Ride staged by the San Joaquin Bike Coalition (sjbike.org).

 

A grand bicycling event is just a month out: the San Joaquin Bike Festival, Saturday, September 26 at University of Pacific. With bicycling fun for all ages, the free event aims to provide a safe and educational environment to help residents discover great places to ride in Stockton.

Veteran bicyclists realize that Stockton and San Joaquin County offer a bicyclist’s dream; lovely weather almost year-round, few hills, a variety of safe and scenic routes to flex those leg muscles and several clubs that cater to new and veteran cyclists!

Some bikers choose the Lodi-Woodbridge roads through vineyards, the county’s east-side challenging foothill routes, biking through quaint tree-lined Stockton streets to the historic downtown waterfront, or cycling along Manteca’s paved biking trail that offers a bridge across the Stanislaus River. Cyclists rate San Joaquin County as a solid biking destination and with huge future potential.

Others might question safety of cycling on city streets.  A couple of tips: always anticipate that drivers don’t see you – ride defensively.  Follow the laws (stopping at stop signs and red lights), and ride with traffic, single file (while a cyclist has a right to the lane, riding two or three abreast hogs the lane and irritates drivers).  Wear the brightest colors – day-glo yellow, red or orange. Finally, Invest in a rear-view mirror for about $20 – allowing riders peace-of-mind by seeing vehicles approaching from the rear.

For those who want inspiration prior to the Bike Fest, I asked several local cyclists for their favorite Stockton and San Joaquin County rides. Kari McNickle, chair of the San Joaquin Bike Coalition, Matt Beckwith, Coalition board member, Don Blount, managing editor of the Record  and I offer several favorites:

Kari McNickle notes, “my favorite rides are destination-based – nothing like working your way to a rewarding breakfast or beer! From the Miracle Mile area, pedal west along the Calaveras River Bike Trail, perhaps making a loop up towards Buckley Cove and around the Brookside neighborhood. Next, head north on Feather River past the dog park, and hang a left immediately after the bridge (watch for traffic!). Wind your way around Grupe Park to 14 Mile Drive, and enjoy the smooth road until you hit Stockton’s largest hill, levee up to the Marina! Complete the arduous climb, and treat yourself to waterfront breakfast at Bob’s, or the great happy hour specials and a sunset at Garlic Brothers. The hard part is pedaling back after all the good eats”!

Matt Beckwith (who in late 2014 pedaled every city street in Stockton, logging over 1560 miles in three months) adds, “I enjoy riding throughout Stockton. Even though like to explore new routes, I often go out for one of my favorite, in-town rides: the “Weston Ranch 30”. From my house in north Stockton, near Hammer and I-5, I ride north on Don Avenue and Meadow Drive to Alexandria Place and over the colorful footbridge to Grouse Run and McGaw Street to Stagg High School. Take the Calaveras River bike path east to University of the Pacific then ride south on Kensington Way and Baker Street to Fremont Street. Depending on my mood I’ll either take Center, Sutter or Stanislaus Streets south to eventually ride down French Camp Turnpike to Carolyn Weston Boulevard and up on the bike path and back toward home. It’s a great 30 mile ride through some easy-to-ride, bike friendly parts of Stockton”.

He adds, “there are many great bike routes throughout San Joaquin County, a favorite takes me south through Tracy. From north Stockton, I ride out to French Camp and then head west on Mathews Road / Howard Road which ends at Tracy Boulevard. A few miles from the turn on to Tracy Boulevard is Sam’s Market, an oasis 30 miles from my home and a perfect place to stop and rest and refill my water bottles. I ride through Tracy and then out to South Kasson Road to the edge of San Joaquin County and then ride through Manteca on my way back to Stockton. This ride is 75 miles or so, depending on if I add a few extra roads, and is a great way to see parts of Tracy and Manteca that many people don’t”.

Don Blount offers his Stockton ride, “from north Stockton: Alexandria Place south to Swain Road, west on Swain to Cumberland Place, north on Cumberland to W. Benjamin Holt Drive, west on Ben Holt to Embarcadero Drive. Follow Embarcadero to the Meade Drive intersection, east on Meade Drive and follow the road around Grupe Park to Sea Gull Lane. Go east on Sea Gull Lane to Feather River Drive, follow Feather River south to Brookside Drive, then west on Brookside Drive into Brookside and follow to Buckley Cove.  One can add as many loops along the way to lengthen or shorten the ride.

For San Joaquin County and wine country, he offers, “ride Thornton Road north to DeVries Road, east on Armstrong, south on North Fury Road, east on Live Oak, south on North Tully, short jog and west onto Comstock Road, south on Tully, west on Baker. Go south on Waterloo Road and stop for libations at the Fruit Bowl. For return trip, south on Waterloo, north on Alpine Road, west on Live Oak, north on North Fury to Armstrong to Thornton”.

Finally, I offer my “historic downtown Stockton” ride.  Use Matt’s suggestions above to get to downtown, where you’ll find the 1910 vintage Hotel Stockton, 1890 Bank of Stockton, 1930 Fox Theatre and a downtown rich in history. Call the Downtown Alliance for a downtown historic tour map, (209) 464-5246.

If these rides intrigue you, grab your phone or GPS, or city/county map to polish your routes.  Stockton’s web site offers a downloadable map profiling current and planned bike trails/routes. And, mark your calendars for the September 26 San Joaquin Bike Fest!

For more info: San Joaquin Bike Festival and San Joaquin Bike Coalition, sjbike.org; Stockton Bike Club, stocktonbikeclub.org; for Stockton Bike Route map, stocktongov.com/files/BikewaysExistingMap.pdf.

Contact Tim Viall at tviall@msn.com. Follow him at recordnet.com/travelblog. Happy pedaling in the west!

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