Exploring your town from the seat of a bicycle; cycling in Stockton and San Joaquin County.

San Joaquin Bike Coalition members cycle north on Thornton Road during an LSD Ride.

Cycling in Stockton and San Joaquin County; exploring your town from the seat of a bicycle…

A group of riders stops for a photo on the Calaveras Bike Trail near UOP.

Summer is almost upon us and, like me, I suspect many of you are thinking of becoming more active and dropping a few pounds.

Let’s make this summer your time to increase your physical activity and add the fun factor. Dust off those bicycles, get the kids or grandkids primed for adventure and take to the streets and bike paths near your homes.

San Joaquin County is blessed by quiet and relatively safe places to pedal. We’re graced by a wonderful, year-round cycling climate, almost no hills and lovely by-ways to accommodate those on two wheels.

Matt Beckwith leads LSD riders beside vineyards in Lodi area.

If you’re new to cycling, or haven’t pedaled in a number of years, many options exist. Consider doing short cycling trips around your own neighborhood on quiet urban or suburban streets. Performance Bicycle in Lincoln Center offers both Saturday and Sunday rides accommodating beginners all the way up to more experienced cyclists.

If you have some experience and want to increase your mileage from 5 to 10 miles or more, the San Joaquin Bike coalition offers “long slow distance (LSD) Rides” the first Saturday each month starting on the north side of Bear Creek High School on McNabb Street. Should you already be a serious distance cyclist, join the Stockton Bike Club for a number of their weekly rides, including many that trek into the Sierra foothills for rides featuring stunning scenery and robust hills!

So, where to start? Pull out those bikes, dust them off, add air to the tires, check the brake function and make sure all the bike’s bolts are tight. If you’re not sure of the bike’s fitness, or how you fit the bike, take it to a local shop like Performance, REI, or Robbie’s and get a quick tune-up.

For cycling on city streets, purchase a rearview mirror or eye-glasses mirror – seeing cars approaching from behind will give you more confidence and add additional safety to your ride. When pedaling on the roadways, obey all traffic laws, pedal with traffic, stop at stop signs/traffic lights – and don’t assume a motorist sees you until you make direct eye contact. Kids under 18 are required by law to wear a helmet; smart adult cyclists also wear a helmet and wear bright colors to make themselves obvious to approaching motorists.

Consider how your bicycle might replace a number of short auto trips, such as your grocery store, your favorite coffee shop, or to your gym – leave the car at home and pedal a few miles to get in the frequent cycling habit. Get kids or grandkids thinking in the same dimension; you’ll discover the fun and exhilaration while cutting down on air pollution.

Look a bit further afield for cycling destinations. In Stockton, the Calaveras Bike Trail on the north edge of University of Pacific provides one of the city’s most interesting bikeways; stop at the college’s DeRosa University Center for a refreshment break. Options from UOP include cycling south on shady Kensington and then Baker Street, all the way to the Deepwater Channel (to take in a Stockton Ports game or to pedal around the Joan Darrah Waterfront Promenade).

North Stockton, Weston Ranch, Manteca and Tracy all offer additional separated bike paths. Lodi is surrounded by quiet roads through vineyards – offering lovely places to pedal with little traffic. For insight into where to ride, check Bike Lodi, Visit Stockton and local chambers of commerce for favorite local rides.

New Bike Lodi signs denote a bike-friendly town and offer place to lock your bike.

In Stockton and Lodi, the San Joaquin Bike Coalition and Bike Lodi have worked tirelessly with their cities to upgrade the cycling master-plans and broaden the cycling community in their cities. Both cities are discovering how bike tourism leads to more business and how cyclists add to the fabric of their communities – in Lodi new Bike Lodi signs brand the city as bike-friendly and offer a handy spot to lock your bike.

The San Joaquin Bike Coalition has a number of fun events coming up. The ever-popular Best Ride Ever is Saturday, May 14 at Michael David Winery in Acampo, offering several routes through Lodi-Woodbridge vineyards and wine-tasting following the ride. Stockton’s Bike to Work Day is May 17, the group hosts a bike valet for the Stockton Ports game on May 21, Lodi’s Bike to Work Day is May 25 and the June LSD Ride is June 3. The Bike Coalition also offers a suggested list of local Stockton ride routes, at visitstockton.org/stockton-bike-routes/.

A group of riders from the 2015 Best Ride Ever takes a shady break.

Bike Lodi offers a number of scenic routes, at visitlodi.com/things-to-do/bike-routes/. On Saturday May 27, Bike Lodi will host a bike valet at Lodi Lake for Zinfest; on Sunday May 28, the group hosts a ride in conjunction with Zinfest, details at zinfest.com.

For more information: Bike Lodi, facebook.com/bikelodi/; Performance Bike Shop, performancebike.com/Stockton; San Joaquin Bike Coalition, sjbike.org or their Facebook page, facebook.com/groups/sjbikecoalition/; Stockton Bike Club, stocktonbikeclub.org; Visit Stockton, visitstockton.org; or phone local chambers of commerce for suggested ride routes.

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

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