Sunday, May 11, 2014

The American River Trail

Last Thursday was one of those really fun days on the bike.  The plans for this midweek mini adventure started back in April when Sherry and I were talking about her schedule.  She has meetings in Sacramento once a month so I decided to take the day off and join her.
I was planning on riding the American River Trail.  In essence, this is a bike path goes from Sacramento to Folsom Lake.  It’s 32 miles each way, give or take, and closely follows the American River. This was supposed to be an awesome bike trail and I was looking forward to riding it for the first time. 
We arrive in downtown Sacramento and head to Sherry’s standard parking garage.  Along the way we see signs posted everywhere for the Tour of California which reminds us the race starts on Sunday.  That’s pretty cool since I know that means all of the teams should already be in the area.  
We get parked, on the top floor, and as soon as I get out of the I’m blasted by wind.  And I mean strong, gusty winds.  I look at Sherry and immediately state - “This ride’s going to suck!!!”  Still, that’s why I came so as she heads to her meeting I head out on the bike.
Now, it was only 6-blocks from the parking garage to Old Town but I still somehow managed to promptly get lost.  The road I thought I needed had nothing but freeway entrance signs so I went through the Amtrak parking lot and eventually got to the path.
Technically, the American River Trail starts at Discovery Park, which is about 2 miles from Old Town but there is a path that connects them.  So, I ride along river and eventually cross over a bridge into Discovery Park.  But, I have no idea where the trail actually starts.  This is when I discovered that unlike Google, the map app on my smart phone did not always show the trail.
Long story short, I finally found it and was off to Lake Folsom.  The path was indeed awesome.  You can tell it’s very popular with cyclists given the number of people on the path on a Thursday.  It’s well paved and basically flat so I settled into a nice rhythm that was up tempo enough to feel fast but slow enough to enjoy the scenery.
I will say the trail was not as scenic as I anticipated.  There were glimpses of the the river from time to time but for some reason I expected more.  The pleasant surprise was that the path constantly twisted and turned as it went along.  I love this style of riding and I really was having a great time gusty winds and all.
As I get close to Folsom Lake the trail starts branching out in all directions and the route I chose abruptly ended.  Since I needed to be back by 1:00 for lunch with Sherry I decided to turn around and head back.
On the way back I actually had two team sightings.  As I came around one corner, there was the entire team from Team BMC heading my way.  A little later, I saw 4 members of Team Net App as well.  That really added to the specialness of the ride for me.
Back at the car I changed and got ready for lunch.  As I was changing I reflected back on my comment that the ride would suck.  Well, it didn’t.  Sure I had to deal with strong winds (in both directions), but in the end it was a great ride on new “roads”.  And while the views were not what I expected they were far better than the views from my office. 
Since Sherry has these meeting every month, you can bet I’m checking my calendar to see when I can do this all over again.