Bicycling in Stockton/San Joaquin County…freshen up your summer!

Liven up your summer, have fun, get more active with local cycling!

Ah, the first days of summer are upon us. You and your family probably have bikes stashed in your garage, perhaps dusty and seldom used.

San Joaquin Bike Coalition's LSD Ride participants, June, 2016.

Why not make this your summer to increase your fun quotient and your physical activity? Dust off and start riding those bikes! It helps that Stockton and nearby towns like Lodi are lovely towns to cycle in (Lodi has recently hosted a finish and a start for stages in the Tour of California, Stockton offered a start some years earlier for this big-league cycling event).

Where to begin? Pull those bikes out and dust ‘em off. If they need air in the tires, that’s easy. Check to make sure the brakes function properly and that all bolts on your bike are tightened. If you’re unsure about your bike’s fitness, or how you fit the bike, take it to a local shop like Performance, REI or Robby’s and get a quick check.

Where to ride? Pedal quiet neighborhood streets to get your bike legs. Do you often drive to the store near your home? Consider cycling – put on your helmet and away you go. For getting kids into the cycling habit, target several days a week, either cool mornings or evenings, and make a refreshment stop along the way.

Group of riders on Calaveras Bike Trail, near University of Pacific.

Venturing further, the Calaveras River Bike Trail, just north of UOP, provides one of the city’s separated bike routes and is a great east/west ride. Stop into UOP’s DeRosa University Center for a refreshment break, and continue south on Kensington and then Baker, all the way to the Deepwater Channel.

Several other favorite local rides: from the Bear Creek High area, 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, Lathrop and Tracy also offer quiet city streets and bike trails for new or veteran riders!

Matt Beckwith of the SJBC leads a LSD Ride group into the Lodi wine country.

Local cycling groups offer lots of help to make your riding more regular. Here are options:

I joined the San Joaquin Bike Coalition’s recent LSD (long, slow distance) Ride held the first Saturday, monthly, 8 AM starting on north side of Bear Creek High School, and chatted with SJBC board member Matt Beckwith.  Matt offered these tips, “with wonderful weather for most of the year (except those first few days of the year when temps hit triple digits) and little elevation change, Stockton is a wonderful city in which to ride a bike. Just off the arterial roadways, many neighborhood streets make it easy to get through town – Kensington and Baker, south of University of Pacific, are great examples”.

Matt added, “the city is currently working on the update to the bicycle master plan (http://www.stocktongov.com/plan4bikes). A number of community forums have been held as well as targeted focus groups and surveys in an attempt to find what residents are interested in related to cycling in Stockton. The SJBC has been a part of all of these meetings and are actively encouraging our members and the community at large to join in the conversation. The city project team recently demonstrated the first live preview of a possible cycling amenity, a two-way cycle track on several blocks of Center Street”. While the LSD Rides have grown popular, so too have the new Full Moon Rides in downtown Stockton – watch their website for next dates.

Brent Presser, left and Tim Stone shared their favorite rides.

Two LSD riders shared favorites.  Tim Stone, of Stockton, has been riding regularly since 1984, cycling several times a week from his home near Lincoln High School to work at San Joaquin General Hospital. Tim adds, “my favorite ride is from Lincoln High School to the Bear Creek Bike Trail, and out into Lodi-area vineyards. House of Coffee, on Ham Lane in Lodi is a favorite stopping off point for me and many cyclists”.

Brent Presser, of Lodi added, “I ride regularly in the area with SJBC and the Performance Bike groups. My favorite rides are throughout the Lodi area in the vineyards that surround town; my favorite stop for libations is also House of Coffee in Lodi; and the American River Trail in Sacramento”.

Performance Bike Shop in Lincoln Center South offers several weekly group rides. I visited Tyler Young, part-time employee and ride leader, who said, “we offer beginner/intermediate rides every Saturday, 9 AM at the store. The route for this morning’s ride tracked south to the Calaveras River Bike Path, to University of Pacific, south down Kensington, a stop at the Miracle Mile for refreshments, and return”.

Tyler Young, of Performance Bike in Lincoln Center South, front, left, prepares to lead a Saturday morning ride from the store.

He added, “it’s the most popular group ride, although an alternate route is sometimes taken out to the Brookside area, Buckley Cove Park, Lake Lincoln and western Stockton. Our Saturday morning ride started two years ago, has grown to 30-some riders and has become a model for other Performance Bike stores throughout the US”.

Stockton Bike Club, a group for more serious riders, also offers weekly rides, with many trekking through the Sierra foothills east of San Joaquin County.

Here are a few safe cycling rules to live by:

• While a new CA law requires motorists to give cyclists 3 feet when they pass, realize drivers may not know that or won’t follow the law.
• As a rider, obey the law (ride with traffic, single file, not on sidewalk; stop at stop signs, red lights).
• Youth under 18 must wear a helmet (state law); adults are advised to do the same!
• Wear bright colors and invest in a rear-view mirror or eyeglasses mirror (you’ll gain peace of mind, seeing drivers approaching 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 that driver.

Riders stop at Consumnes River Farms, north of Thornton, for wine tasting and olive oil sampling.

And, check my Record travel blog this Friday; I’ll share some tips and suggested “best rides” for you fat tire, mountain bike riders, right in Stockton/San Joaquin County and locations nearby.

For more information: Performance Bike Shop, performancebike.com/Stockton, (209) 951-5665; San Joaquin Bike Coalition, sjbike.org or their Facebook page, facebook.com/groups/sjbikecoalition/; Stockton Bike Club, www.stocktonbikeclub.org.

Read more from Tim Viall’s travel blog, follow him on Facebook or Twitter; or, email him at tviall@msn.com. Safe pedaling in the west!

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