The Berryessa Breakout

Even though it’s just short of the Equinox, in my mind, at least in this part of California, spring  is here. The days lately have been perfect for almost any activity one might wish to partake in.. Especially cycling.  In my ongoing quest for beautiful areas that show some signs of countyside, ie: forest, lake, river, mountain, rocks, wildlife, and some type of contour or relief, within bicycling distance from the City of Madness, I decided to get a group together via the shop, and head out to Putah Creek Canyon for an overnighter. Just above said canyon, lies a damn dam, above which, pushing against it with all it’s might, lay Lake Berryessa. Home to many a water skier and fisherman in the summer, it’s rugged topography makes for some fairly spectacular scenery that is typical for this part of California.

We meet at Edible Pedal at 8:30 on Saturday morning for some hang time and some breakfast and coffee. John Boyer, the owner of the shop, and proprietor of many a  past bike camping ensembles, was, unfortunately, unable to join us for this one, which left us with 5 riders: Mike, Gregg, Michael, Zach, and yours truly.

We blasted out “R” Street and booked across the Capitol Bridge, across motel row of W. Cap Ave, across the causeway, and into the splendid bicycle and college community of Davis, where, much to my pleasure, we were to meet an old friend whom I knew from Moab many years back. Robi moved from Moab 9 years ago and landed in Davis, got married, and procured a magnificent little girl named Miriam. A few short miles west of Davis we spot Robi and Miriam at an intersection of the bicycle path heading out. He was riding a three speed commuter with an active trail-a-bike attached to the rear, where 5 year old Miriam could assist in the pedaling of the apperatus. He had a long flag pole sporting Tibetan prayer flags, a Pabst Blue Ribbon on the bars, and a set of speakers gently cranking out pleasant tunes for the ride. Moab style..  Off we go..

The pedal from this point was a whimsical mixture of fairytale forests of fruit and Olive groves, creeks, farms, and a tastefully graffitied concrete bridge that really was a sight to see. Our first stop was to be in Winters. It is a small town nestled at the foot of California’s coastal mountains. The weekends there seem to be a mass of tourists and bikers- (motorcycles). But during the week, I bet it tones down quite a lot and becomes a nice quiet town again, Winters is the sort of place that looks as tho it might not have changed all that much in the last 40 years, and this pleases me. We hit the small, but well stocked grocery store there for some viddles, and them resume the journey westward.. and onward to the regionally famous Berryessa Brewery.

Everyone we talked to famously talked up the Berryessa Brewey, it did not dissapoint. Their selection of carefully crafted brews were few, but dang tasty.  Robi picked up a growler to go and off we went into the canyon to find our camp next to the river. Later that evening, John Boyer shows up in his truck and we all stay up for some time and pull back on cervesa and talk.

In the morning, I awake, and Boyer has already left for the bike shop. We have a casual morning at camp, enjoying our breakfasts and coffee, and the scenery of the forest and creek areas. As we pedaled the 40+ miles back to Sacramento, we enjoyed more of the same nice weather that has been so typical of the season so far here. We said our goodbyes to Robi and Miriam in Davis, and pedaled home, smiling.

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Two Days in the Delta

Back in October, some friends and I went on a sweet overnighter via bicycle – Here’s a recount:

The Sacramento River delta area nestled between the bay area and Sacramento are a maze of sloughs, levies, farms and vineyards. John Boyer, the owner of Edible Pedal,and I decided it would be a blast to take a couple of days in October and ride down to Brannon Island.

On the Branch Line Trail
On the Branch Line Trail

It’s a leisure cruise through a myriad of riverways, country roads, and both native and non-native history.

Old Truck Steering Wheel
Old Truck Steering Wheel

Relics of old farm trucks turned food delivery vehicles, migrant farm workers feasting on Sunday barbecue, harvest festivals, pumpkins and children.

Bing Kong Tong
Bing Kong Tong

It’s about 50 miles to Brannon Island from Sacramento.

John Lucas
John Lucas

My friend John Lucas builds custom steel and aluminum cycle trucks that scream “Sell Your Car”.  Lucas showed up for the ride with his single speed cycle truck wearing jeans, flip flops and  an old brim hat. After 40 miles or so, he said his feet hurt a bit, but other than that, he managed the round trip total of 100 miles without incident.

Michael
Michael

Although paying for camping is not my usual routine, since we had a group of 6 or 7, it seemed best.  The campground on Brannon is a state run outfit.

John Boyer
John Boyer

A casual ride with friends and great October weather.

At Camp
At Camp
Cycle Truck in Camp
Cycle Truck in Camp
Ridin' Home
Ridin’ Home

Not Saddle Sore

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The Rivet Pearl…
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..with Ti Rails!

I’d rather be riding my bike today.. but, well, it’s raining. I know what you’re thinking; how can someone who raves endlessly about all matters northern, about how riding in the rain does not bother, about the “glorious” weather of SE Alaska, simply whine about a simple California drizzle.  Well, for starters, the trails I had in mind to ride today are going to be muddy. In fact, the trails I was going to ride today are in fact illegal. By riding on muddy and illegal trails, I set the stage for prosecution and closure by creating said muddy tracks.

Also, part of the reason for going on a ride today was to test out the new, famously good looking Rivet Pearl saddle, that was graciously given to me for such purposes by the fine folks at Rivet Cycle Works.  As soon as I get the chance to do some vigorous thrashing on this beauty, I will be posting a review, so keep Yer eyes peeled.

So, my time spent in the hours before heading to the bike shop to work will be filled with coffee and hopefully something interesting to say to you all.

Here goes…

I struggle as a writer, struggle as photographer, struggle as an adventurer, insofar as creating the means to do so. I fear not the “talent”, or the creative processes that are required for my sanity, or to paint a beautiful picture of the natural elements of this splendid planet.. I feel soo lucky to have been born here. This globe is beautiful beyond wordly description; that is why I must do what I do. The far reaches of this planet’s wilderness are my calling. This can cost a lot. Financially, yes, but this not what my voice speaks. These places come as a cost in regards to how one can handle the pressures of our given society and how one perceives self and how, not to behold, the “values” that we have been so engrained in believing. Why must we live the way most do? Can it be “acceptable”, by one’s family and peers, to embrace the beauty of the planet before us, to, perhaps, live as our ancestors did, to love all creatures, wether or not they are located in the food chain above us or not. To see and to feel the wind; to be there at that moment in time?

These are the questions and reasonings I behold, not to stroke an ego of self in regards to media or self promotion, but to truly empower one’s self as a Human; a human lost on a planet ruled by a species gone mad.

On certain terms, the living in a  city has been good for me. It has re-shown me the path that we ALL are on and the one that I must follow.  To recognize the destructiveness of our behavior.

I tend to “think” with my heart; my brain merely functions as a overseer to what needs to happen at a given moment in order to accomplish a task at hand, and nothing more. Heart is what guides.

What gets you off most: the thought of the new iphone 5 coming out, or what your heart might feel sitting or walking or riding a bicycle through hours of the most torrential rain storm in recent memory? Can you smell the odor of the trees coming alive with quench of the moisture, or do you merely quander at the thought of what your peers may think of your latest achievement? These are genuine questions that beckon the prose: Am I here to fully realize and experience the whole  of what we really have to offer one another and the planet as a whole, or are we here to simply entertain ourselves through the current form of technology?

I think not.

Dirt Trailing

Sunny Sunday, early afternoon, chores finished (sort of), bike screaming at me. Stop! I hear You! Grab photographic devices, off we go, off to river. Find dirt trails, green grass, bike tracks, soft dirt, bare trees, glimmering water. Past Hobo camps, fallen trees, railroad trestles and graffiti. Pass dogs’ seemingly intent on murder – pedal hard. Homeless man without teeth to bare grins wildly at the sky like something is coming for him. Bike glides silently toward an unknown realm where there is no city, no filth, no goal. Only to be a bike.IMG_7943 IMG_7946 IMG_7949 IMG_7950 IMG_7951 IMG_7953 IMG_7955 IMG_7957 IMG_7959 IMG_7960 IMG_7963 IMG_7970

Escape From Sacramento

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Dirt trails, Rail trails, cat’s tail’s, 2 tracks, single tracks, train trax, dirt roads, access roads, forest paths and game trails.

Study maps, ask around, look around town, think like a weirdo, and keep yer ears open and yer eyes peeled. Since I am held captive by the urban sprawl, this is what I do. I seek out places where most do not; I look for the paths and trails that, for the most part, at least in these parts, follow the waterways of the Sacramento region and it’s rivers and Delta area’s. There are horse trails and fishing paths leading to rivers, sloughs, ponds, creeks, tributaries, and ship channels galore.

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A usual start and off to Old Soul coffee house and Edible Pedal bicycle shop. Eat tasty quiche and croissants and Java for breaky. Catch up at the shop to find out about more trails up between Auburn and Folsom for another day perhaps. It is in my registry now. Today however, I am drawn back to the west side of the city and into it’s key river’s upper Delta area’s.

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Meandering through urban alley’s and backstreets; a side route through the ghetto; across said river and through a minor forest to find muddy fishing trails. Finally hitting open pavement if you will, and bolt for the wild west beyond the combatant city, where most there are fighting for supreme survival in automobiles. Paying a pretty price to do so in fact; lining up at filling pumps, all the while spewing their poison for all to become intoxicated with in this metropolis of bliss…

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I head out West Jefferson Blvd, a known, fast route out of said Madness, and planning an escape route on the Clarksburg Rail Trail, but instead, spy an alternate: The Sacramento deep water Barge Canal has a levee on it’s side with a gravel surface that begs to be ridden fast; which I do.

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There are many fisherman here; many on bicycle, who have ridden in from adjacent neighborhoods, accessing the canal via trails, paths, and streets as I do. They fish, seemingly for 3-headed Sturgeon, and perhaps Catfish with feathers and legs. I do not know for sure.

I do know this:  Snake Pliskin did not have a bike, but I do. Henry David Thoreau did not have an ipod, but I do.  Bike + ipod + dirt paths = a whole shit load of urban fun. I am quite certain of this.

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Looking back upon the Madness, beyond it’s factories, and skyscraper temples of commerce, I begin to see a rare and hopeful sight unfold before me:  some 50 miles to the east, the clouds are parting along the edge of the massive Central Valley, to reveal the greatest asset California has to offer.. The Sierra Nevada Mountains, covered in snow, and standing as a monument to a time before the Madness was constructed. I spy an electrical cabling tower perhaps 150 feet high. This tower, I presume is to carry mind control signals to the workers in the Madness, to keep them artificially subdued (sub dudes), so as they will not wish to escape, as I have.  I decide to climb up the said tower a bit in order to catch a better view of these monuments of a time forgotten. Nearly 30 feet up, I realize that the ladder pegs, and my shoes are quite wet, and decide to descend, Before I do, however, I see the Mountains, far beyond the city, and dream of them.

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 The levee continues, but between said levee and Barge canal, an area opens up with some light forestation and a nice singletrack splitting it in two. Meandering in and out of Oaks and thickets, it finally ends, and I am forced back upon the levee, where mud becomes thick like gooey cake batter.  This is practice for the Dalton and Dempster highways, I think.

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Eventually, the levee too, ends, and I am forced back onto West Jefferson, and ultimately, the City. As I near the State Capitol, I spot a protest ensuing. I cannot make out what most are saying, but judging from the signage they carry, these are Native American Indians, protesting for their Native Brothers in Canada, against Canada’s recent opening up of it’s river’s and lake’s to massive demolition by way of methane/coal extraction. This practice will destroy rivers, destroy the Salmon, destroy the Bears, and destroy the native peoples there who rely on said natural resources.

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I feel for you all, and all of us,  Brothers and Sisters…

Desperately Seeking Wildness

IMG_7120Riding 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..

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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“You’ve got to ride like Hell, face into the wind.  One day you’re everything, and then you’re nothing again.”

-Gov’t Mule