Tour de Sacramento 2014 with THX to the Embassy Suites on the River

The second annual Tour de Sacramento, led by city bike coordinator, Ed Cox, began from the beautiful Embassy Suites Hotel. The anchor lodging facility for the state Capitol city, it is right on the Sacramento river next to the historic Tower Bridge, it is also around the corner from gold rush, history laden Old Town Sacramento.


I so much wanted to really explore  all that the Embassy had to offer. however, I was still too jet-lagged (I used to pooh pooh jet lag thinking it was mind over matter) from coming in from Ireland a little over a day before. This compounded by the fact that I did not arrive at the hotel until just after midnite. This was so because  I had been up till very late  with Peter Wagner after our Tour of Davis. He and I had been busy  getting the bike I would ride from Palo Alto to San Francisco ready for our ride (here is that ride report)  on the day after the Tour de Sacramento was complete.

And if my not giving myself more time to acclimate  wasn’t  working hard enough against me, the alarm clock in my room was an hour slow. As a result, I missed out on the free made-to-order breakfast that came with my room. If nothing else I had looked forward to enjoying it in the  inviting  looking garden court that all the floors looked down on.

At 9:30 AM, a call on my phone summoned me to the lobby. It was Mickey Obrien, the owner of LaidBack Cycles, a burgeoning trike specialist just a few miles up the river away. Luckily I had already showered, but in my sleep deprived confusion and newfound haste, I didn’t take advantage of the send off the Embassy had prepared for us.

Looking forward to a day in the out of doors and accustomed to the way other hotels had sent us off, I had assumed someone at reception would be reminding me where we were  to meet. Chagrin, presumptuous me, everyone lost because of this oversight on my part.

Mary Ann Blackwell, Conrad Lawrence, Ike Crasher, Ed’s fiancée, Phil (they got married the following weekend), city traffic engineer, Angie Louie, Mickey and myself all gathered for a group  photo in front of our Sacramento lodging partner.


Soon we were headed for the State Capitol, six blocks away, down Capitol Mall, a wide boulevard, with few cars on it. Unlike  in years past, Sacramento stop lights did not cause me any concern.  This year I was on a state-of-the-art trike, called a Catrike Road , made available to me by Mickey’s bike shop. All I had to do was apply the brakes, stop pedaling and sit in a comfortable seat this year as I watched Ed do all the work.


As up and down he climbed at each red light, I thought about how that is how I handle such stops on my Eagle now. I am not enough of an acrobat to do trackstands on the reverse facing HiWheel, the Eagle, that I ride now (here is why I ride an Eagle). And on the few of them that exist today, no one has ever been known to do so. All this as I had spent  hours and hours of practice and bruises to perfect what many saw as showboating. on my conventional HIWheel  so I wouldn’t have to dismount when required to stop.

Conventional HiWheel trackstand 

The three stop lights on the way to the State Capitol that turned red were the only ones we would hit the rest of the day. On a myriad of traffic-calmed streets we made it to the entrance to the American Parkway . But not before we stopped at a tree shaded strip of businesses where a parking spot demonstration, called a parklet, was taking place.

As Ed took us around town, we saw a lot of his handiwork that had made for a bike friendly Sacramento, a city recently voted as one of the top biking cities in America by the readers of USA Today.  Besides the parklet demonstration above we saw the cutting edge use of road space for also cutting edge bike racks,

Ed took us over bridges and up and down levees as we visited with one another and just basked in our peaceful surroundings. Riverside parks with their neatly manicured grounds and green lawns were already tempting us to stop when  a small monument around which the smooth asphalt path looped caused Ed to dismount  As Ed then went on to explain, this was where the two rivers, the American and Sacramento  converged.

It was not far away from where Ed’s bike would soon melt down. All of us watched as he suddenly seemed to be jumping away from his bike. One of the cotter pins that held the crank arm, bearing and axle into the huge forks failed on him.

I felt so bad for Ed because he seemed ashamed that he had let us all down when everyone started discussing the best way to walk back. Wanting instead to get us back on the road, I assured him that I also had had this problem as I had owned a few RBR HIWheels, and that I knew right what to do.

Soon, we had Ed’s bike laying on its side. I knew we would need a hammer, so I ran down to the base of the levee in search of a large river rock as Conrad, a master tall bike maker, Mickey, who has been working on bikes for decades and Ike, also a bike tinkerer, all started putting the huge wheel, axle and bearings into the huge fork.

By the time we were ready for the cotter pin to get everything held together, we discovered that it was so worn that we would need to hammer in some kind of a wedge so that it would stay in place. On a bike path with nothing but nature to look for the piece of metal we would need, Ike went off in search of a soda can as the rest of us scratched our heads. I started looking at the bikes we rode for any possibilities when Mickey pulled one of the rings off his key ring and held it up for us to see. “I think this might work”, he said.

Quickly he broke out his set of tiny emergency pliers and began bending and straightening. He stuck the result in the crank arm hole as the other three of us held different parts of the bike in place. The only way we could get the meat of the cotter pin to make contact with the axle slot was to twist it as he hammered it to well beyond the point where the nut and bolt were of any use. In what had to look like a scene out of the Flintstones, his hammer was a rock. It worked! And Ed was back on his bike again!! For a little over a mile more …..

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Ed had created two loops, both starting and ending at the Embassy Suites. The mile he rode after his breakdown was to the end of the first loop when his bike failed on him again. We all agreed to call it a day.

Soon we were walking on the wooden sidewalk that led us to the covered outside balcony for a counter service restaurant in Old Town Sacramento. After we talked and laughed about the day’s ride, Mary Ann, Ike, Ed and Phyllis all took test runs on Mickey’s amazing trikes. To which Mary Ann announced, “I have to have one – I just found my next bike!”

I rode Mickey around the corner back to the parking lot where he had parked his SUV by the Embassy. We talked as he quickly put the trike I had been riding int0 the back of his car. He started to break down his, when I stopped him and asked if we could do a video. Here it is:

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What a day!!


Postscript – I went up to my room at 4 PM wanting to take a quick nap and then go out and explore both the hotel and my surroundings before Peter came by at 9 PM and picked me up. We had decided I would stay at his house in nearby Davis for our 6am drive to Palo Alto and our bike ride to San Francisco the following day. However when I awakened again it was dark and the phone was ringing. Peter was in the hotel lobby waiting for me……

Note: Mary Ann Blackwell, the director of the Bay Area Easy Riders Touring Group was behind the camera for many of the above photos,