At the 11th hour, as I was preparing my clothing, food and hydration for the Eagle ride from Davis to Sacramento (15 miles) and then from Folsom back to Sacramento, I got a very disturbing text message. My sag support determined that there was something more important. Nor was there time on a Saturday night to find a replacement rider to carry my things.
There was the option of a backpack to carry my clothing layers as well as my water bottles, energy bars, bananas and the rice burritos I had made. Nor could the Eagle handle the bulk and the weight. I learned that the hard way in 2009 when the ten pounds I tried to carry over my front wheel forced it into the back wheel helping to ground my ride in Salt Lake City <story>. And yet I did not think it was a good idea to try to mount the Eagle with all that mass up so high on my person. In fact, I’d never tried to get on my backwards facing HiWheell with any kind of a load mounted higher than my waist.
What were my options? How could I turn the pile of poop I’d been handed into fertilizer? Then an idea for fun came to me. I could ride my Lightning P-38! I could leave an hour and a half later and wouldn’t have to bother with the trouble of inter-modal transit connections.
Miscalculations however would abound on this day. I did get to the Tower Bridge in Sacramento in no time. 40 minutes. But the roads were backed up with barricades, detours and crews of workers. The Amgen bike race had commandeered the city.
I spent the next 40 minutes trying to get to the American River Pkwy trailhead. What should have taken me ten minutes to do, took me an extra half hour. But I was on the Lightning I reasoned. I could do the next 15 miles in 40 minutes easily.
I measured the distance wrong however. It wasn’t until I got on the trail and started hammering at 23 mph with a racer that the trail was filled with that I learned that Folsom was 30 miles away. Ugh, I should have known this but in my haste, I googled the distance between the two cities. And not the distance between them on the river.
I got a call into Lawrence Risley, the ride’s savior. He got the group going and ready to meet me. In all, it would have made for a 20 minute blow-it on my part.
But I had to make it worse. I had to suffer like I and all of the Hiwheelers of the past had suffered. I did not deserve it this easy. So when I reached the Natomas dam I had to turn left over it when I should have just gone straight. And I had to ride to mile 28 before I realized I wasn’t crossing paths with them.
I got on my cell phone again. Lawrence couldn’t figure out where I was at or how they had missed me, but said they were 5 miles below the dam. I turned around and headed slightly downhill while riding even faster.
Finally I caught them! Slowly ambling along behind Ed Cox, who towered above them were Lupe Ramirez, Cole Unger and his 11 year old son, Hayden, Lawrence Risley and Amy Oleynik. Even though I wasn’t one of the leaders on my Hiwheel, I did get to see why what we were doing was so very important.
It was letting us ride two abreast on the American River Pkwy! At 10 mph! This was because Ed was like a billboard whose presence commanded respect from all the other users of the trail. By his being there, the way was made safe for all those behind him.
It was exciting for me to see little 11 year old Hayden riding in the group behind. Ed and completely out of harm’s way. Everyone who came upon us slowed down and was careful to pass. Young people and families are infrequent on the ARP, especially in cooler temperatures because there are just too many fast moving bikes on it.
I had seen this first hand all morning long. The competitive juices were flowing freely out there. Even my own. And then when I slowed down to work my phone I got yelled at, even by one rider I had passed, “Ride Right”, he exclaimed.
Even our more experienced riders found great pleasure in the 10 mph pace Ed had established. Lupe Ramirez, for example, a retiring fire fighter, who usually rides hard and fast, told us she enjoyed the pace Ed set. She liked not feeling stressed about her speed and just being able to enjoy the parkway.
Lawrence Risley, one of the lead organizers of the mammoth Bike Party Sacramento operation, tells me he loves our yearly ride down the river because he can visit with friends new and old as he pedals through the beautiful Parkway lands.
In being able to objectify the ride this time around then, starting next year I am going to recruit for it as a non-athletic (except for the Hiwheels) family-friendly, slow roll on the Parkway. Instead of billing it as chance to pedal with bikes from yesteryear, I want to represent it as a way for people to really get to see the American River Parkway.
And even though I was riding probably one of the fastest bikes on the Parkway, I couldn’t get enough of our easy pedal. I could finally let my guard down and relax and even coast along at times as I talked and got to know some of the riders as well as some of the sights.
It was fun watching Amy visit with Ed. On John Erickson’s extra Hiwheel last year, she rode a mountain bike this time around. Her big wheel this year was on the Michigan Wheelmen jacket she wore.
I only got to ride 10 miles on the Parkway like this until we turned off of it in Sacramento. 15 or 20 blocks later we were at our destination, Hot Italian pizza.
We were also stuck in the middle of the final race of the day for the Amgen that had made it so hard for me to get through Downtown Sacramento earlier today.
With cowbells ringing, people cheering and pace vehicles leading racing cyclists right past the pizzeria, no one wanted to look away from all the action that was taking place right out the Hot Italian front door. What a way for our 2016 American River Parkway Mayors’ Ride to end! At Hot Italian Pizza Bar, which for good reason is fast becoming the face of Sacramento cycling.