Two wheels good in Sactown

I have always loved having my town bike to cruise around, especially in central Sacramento, which is really made for it. I tried to ride a lot when I lived in Manhattan, but it was far too nerve-racking…and I lived half a block from Central Park! When I moved downtown, it was harder. Brooklyn is good for bikes, though…not so crazy.

But Sactown…whew! It’s just SO good. For one thing, aside from a few main thoroughfares, there’s just not that much traffic, so you can relax. And now, with shelter-in-place, it’s kind of wonderful. Well, wonderful and weird. But honestly, in some ways, not that different!

What’s really changed for me, though, is the American River Parkway bike trail. What a treasure!! 28 miles of nature, much of it just beautiful, especially this time of the year. Wow.

I’ve ridden every day for the last…seven weeks I’ve been here. It started because my immediate environment is 100% manmade; my living space has no connection to the outside, including even windows, so to get even light, I need to go outside. And when I go outside, I’m in a 100% manmade, that is, asphalt and buildings, environment. It’s severe.

So the bike trail has become essential, but I honestly didn’t expect to become so intensely attached to it.

For one thing, you can ride without worry about cars. For another, it goes through some really spectacular natural environments. I never thought of them as spectacular, I was born here and take the riparian environment for granted. But not any more! Even riding past the stagnant bayous/sloughs that I hit soon after I get through the homeless encampment, is just delightful. Turtles, herons, egrets, turkeys, ducks, geese…and the occasional rattle snake. Amazing.

Then it heads out past Sac State, lots of people, lots of grasses, trails leading out towards the river, the levee on the left, Cal Expo, where I got my first professional writing job and saw a lot of great shows…and met James Brown!! Lots of memories along there, and beautiful vistas.

Heading further out, it just gets windier and more beautiful, the gorgeous little lake called (I think) William Pond is really sweet, I’m going to go swimming there pretty soon. And the bridge that goes over the river a bit further, then the oak woods and the high bluffs above the river, which are turning to rapids…it’s really so beautiful.

LOTS of people on the trail, even weekdays, which was never the case in the past. But god bless ’em, people are using this wonderful resource, and that’s a great thing. And I have run into friends at least half of the times I’ve ridden out the trail. Some yelled “David!” at me today, so I pulled over and he was long gone; yesterday, someone yelled “David!” so I pulled over, and she stopped, and we caught up for the first time in several years.

Two other friends I’ve seen twice now. It’s a nice feeling.

But mostly, I just cruise. Listen to music, listen to podcasts. I’ve gone as far as Fair Oaks village, which is a 42 mile round trip, which on this three speed city bike is a good haul. But I’m getting stronger, I can feel myself tackle hills (well, you know, “hills”) that would have slowed me down a month ago. Makes me want to get on my mountain bike.

And doing that would feel like a wonderful gift of Covid-19. To get back into mountain biking. If I can’t do that El Camino de Santiago – and I was set to start it later this month – there are many other things I can do, beautiful places I can go.

Is anyone reading this? Does anyone else have Gifts of Covid they’re grateful for?

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Thank you for checking out my blog - it’s just the tip of the iceberg.  I am working on projects regarding music history, Japanese culture and my songwriting.

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David Watts Barton

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