Riding through urban chaos can be fun at times; even challenging perhaps. Eventually though, I must leave these streets filled with insane people driving around like the world does not need to change, and find some solitude. Sacramento, to me is an urban mess like any other, but it has a wonderful redeeming quality insofar as it is blessed with 2 major rivers: The Sacramento River and The American River. At the confluence of said cricks’, lies the madness. Beginning at said madness, and extending for more than 30 miles east, is the Jedediah Smith bike path. It follows the American River all the way to the dam damn, where, above, lies Folsom Lake.
I pedal by the bike shop to say howdy and coffee-up, then hit the trail..
This river is full of Salmon in the spring and fall, and Steelhead in the early winter. The Jedidah Smith trail is a paved path, full of cyclists mounted to plastic machines, and sporting outrageous spiderman-like costumes. I’m not sure if these alien-like creatures can communicate or not, as when I wave, none seem to flinch an eyelash. I think perhaps they might be robotic droids from said madness, perhaps on a mission from a higher power that is most important. I even witnessed said droids dismounting said plastic cycles and getting into strange, four-tired vehicles that lightly rumbled as they moved away. Strange indeed.
Luckily, the paved path leads way to MANY dirt single track trails; braiding in and out of the adjacent forest. These trails, for the most part, are technically off limits to cycles, and are intended for horse traffic only. It seems to me that at this juncture in time, there are far more cyclists in North America than there are Horsemen and women. I have mixed feelings on this matter. Rarely have I come across said cavaliers. When I do, I am polite and get out of their way; it never seems to be a problem.
Back to the trails… These tracks are marvelous, and even fully loaded for an overnight bike camping trip into the wildness of the river, The Ogre excelled at navigating the Oak laden singletrack.
Between Watt Ave and Sunrise Ave, on the Rancho Cordova side of the River, lies an area I believe is known as American Bar. It is festooned with Oak trees, river rock piles, Coyotes, Buzzards, open fields, and more of the same fantastic trails weaving all over. There are even a few sweet, secret and hidden places to pitch a tent and do a bit of undetected camping. Across from this area and slightly downstream is a place of zillion dollar homes; perched steadfast on the banks of 200 foot escarpments. This is also where the governor’s mansion is located.These castles are built on ancient native burial grounds, as is the Governor’s Mansion itself. I know this because this river corridor was the former stomping grounds of my father, who, as a teenager, spent nearly all of his time down here and found many a human skull popping from the river banks.
I find a nice spot to camp amongst the Oaks, and write and shoot time-lapses of the forest. Later, in my sleeping bag, I listen to the cries and howls of many a coyote… I try to imagine what this fantastic river corridor looked like 500 years ago… Before the madness.
“You’ve got to ride like Hell, face into the wind. One day you’re everything, and then you’re nothing again.”