Pedaling the American River Bike Trail and rides in your hometown!

Rider heads east past Hagen Park on the American River Bike Trail, with the placid American River on right side of photo.

Friends help Rich Fowler ride 75 miles on his birthday on the American River Trail.
Performance Bike Saturday morning rider group gathers outside the store prior to their ride in north Stockton.
Shadow rider on Weston Ranch bike trail (Matt Beckwith photo).
Full moon riders gather on a balmy evening in downtown Stockton.
Long, Slow Distance (LSD) riders head out into Lodi wine country.

Bike touring on the American River Bike Trail and your own hometown…

Summer fast approaches and what better way to be active, get fit and explore nearby California gems? Dust off those bicycles, check them for road-worthiness and get pedaling to nearby nifty destinations.

Let’s start with the granddaddy of nearby bike trails, the American River Bike Trail that stretches from Old Sacramento on the west all the way up to and past Folsom Lake on the east, following the course of that mighty river, the American. The trail offers more than 40 miles of paved, relatively flat cycling through stunning riparian scenery, with miles of additional side trails for hiking, mountain biking or horseback riding.

On a recent outing, we started at the Lake Natomas Fish Hatchery, just off Hazel and Highway 50 and took a leisurely pedal up the American River to Folsom, stopping for a late brunch at Mel’s Drive in, then peddled back to our starting point. It was only about a 9 mile total ride, but somewhat justified our Saturday brunch. Well, almost. Another nearby destination is the old Sutter Street Café in historic downtown Folsom, offering tasty breakfasts and lunches in a wild West setting. Explore a new addition to the bike trail network, the Johnny Cash Trail, which starts at the old Folsom Bridge and heads to the southeast, past Folsom Prison and new destinations into the California foothills.

Another starting Point is Old Sacramento, which preserves Sacramento much is it was during the 1850’s Gold Rush. Here, catch the west end of the American River bike trail, pedal east through Discovery Park and continue on as far as you care to crank, then do a U-turn and return to your starting point. Old Sacramento offers a half dozen museums, bakeries, cafes and fine restaurants to recharge your batteries.

Closer to home, Stockton and San Joaquin County are blessed by quiet and relatively safe places to pedal. We’re graced by a year-round cycling climate, almost no hills and lovely by-ways to accommodate peddlers.

Where to start: If you’re not sure of your bike’s fitness, or how you fit your bike, visit a local shop like Performance or Robbie’s and get a quick tune-up. Increase your safety on city streets with a rearview mirror or eye-glasses mirror – seeing cars approaching from behind will give you more confidence. For your bike’s safety, carry a good cable lock, so your favorite doesn’t get snatched when you take a break.

When pedaling on the roadways, obey all traffic laws, pedal with traffic and stop at stop signs/traffic lights. Never, ever 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; chose bright colors to make yourself visible to approaching motorists.

If you’re new to bicycling, or haven’t toured recently, 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.

Want to increase your mileage from five miles 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, and heading north into Lodi wine country. The SJBC’s Full Moon Rides in the evening kick off on Tuesday, May 29th for the year. Each of these rides proceeds at a leisurely pace so you won’t get left behind.

Already a serious distance cyclist? Join the Stockton Bike Club for their weekly rides, including many that ascend into the Sierra foothills for rides featuring stunning scenery and robust hills!

The county offers a wealth of cycling destinations. Stockton’s Calaveras Bike Trail, on the north edge of University of Pacific, provides one of the city’s most interesting bikeways; visit UOP’s DeRosa University Center for a refreshment break. From UOP, take the Calaveras Trail west to Buckley Cove Park past Brookside, or east all the way to Cherokee Lane. Or, cycle south on shady Kensington and then Baker Street, all the way to downtown Stockton and the Deepwater Channel (to take in a Stockton Ports game or to pedal around the Joan Darrah Waterfront Promenade).

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

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-up your bike.

For more information: American River Bike Trail, regionalparks.saccounty.net; 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.

Contact Tim Viall at tviall@msn.com; follow him at recordnet.com/travelblog. Safe pedaling in your town!

 

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  • Blog Author

    Tim Viall

    Viall is a local travel writer who retired in 2012 after 10 years as executive director of Stockton, CA's, Emergency Food Bank and six years with the Downtown Stockton Alliance. Previously, a 21-year career in daily newspapers helped shape his ... Read Full
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