Thursday, October 17, 2013

Scenic Cycling: Tour of the Sacramento River Delta

This past weekend the Valley Spokesman hosted their 30th annual "Tour of the Sacramento River Delta" which is an overnight bike tour that begins at Brannan Island State Park (in Rio Vista) and ends in Old Town Sacramento.  You ride approximately 60 miles up to Sacramento, spend the night, and then ride back the next day.  It is fully supported - they organize the route, rest stops, lunch, hotel, transport your overnight bag, provide sag and sweep and the BBQ at the finish the last day.  All you have to do is show up!   

This ride really exceeded my expectations.  I don't know exactly what I was expecting but everything from the course, to the food, to the support and the hotel was really top notch.  The ride was extremely flat - roughly only 400-500 feet of elevation gain each day which was much different from our usual hilly routes. 

Saturday

Check in started at 8:30 am.  We dropped off our bags, grabbed some breakfast and I picked up the vest I had ordered which was really cute.  We were on our bikes and rolling just after 9:00 am.

Vest Design (imagine no sleeves)
The route followed the levee roads along the Sacramento River Delta and we went through the small towns of Isleton and Ryde before getting to the Howard Landing Cable ferry.


The distance from one side to the other is approximately .08 miles and the ferry ride lasted about 3 minutes but I can now add "rode a ferry" to the list of things I have done during a ride. 

The ride continued along Steamboat Slough and into Clarksburg all providing nice views of the river.  There were so many people out fishing!  I think this ride could also be called "tour of the Delta Bridges" as we crossed a lot of bridges. 


Around mile 40 we made our way into Clarksburg were lunch was provided at the middle school.  They had a nice spread of sandwiches, pasta salad, chips and cookies.


After lunch it was approximately 20 miles more to the finish.  The road was pretty rough coming out of Clarksburg but smoothed out for the last 10 miles.

Raley Field in West Sacramento
Before long we were weaving through tourists in Old Sacramento and arrived at our hotel where cold drinks and ice cream were waiting for us.

I haven't had the best of luck with the weather on rides this year (too many hot days!) but we sure lucked out today.  I don't think it got over 75 and there was a cool breeze that almost made you want to stay in the sun.  It definitely helped make the ride much more enjoyable as there was not much shade along the route.

Day 1: 63 miles/4:22:03 (14.4 pace)

My aunt and uncle live just outside of Sacramento and came down to take us out to a really good dinner downtown.  After, I convinced them to head over to my all time favorite frozen yogurt place that we used to go to all the time when I lived in Sacramento a few years ago for dessert.  With full stomachs I believe we were all passed out by 10:00 pm.

Sunday

At 6:30 am the hotel provided us with breakfast so we were on the road almost an hour and a half earlier than Saturday to make our way back to Brennan Island.  It was such a cool morning I found myself wearing both a vest and arm warmers and ended up wearing the vest the entire ride and the arm warmers until mile 40.  No complaining from me though - it was the absolute perfect fall weather.

Sunday's route was actually different that Saturday's which was a nice surprise as I expected the route to be an out and back (obviously I didn't look at the map before hand - oops).

The route still followed the Delta and we rode on many of the paths in South Sacramento I ran on when I trained for my first CIM in 2009.


After getting through Sacramento we ventured into the quaint little towns of Hood, Courtland, Locke and Walnut Grove. 


It had been pretty windy all day but we had managed to stay directly out of it until approximately mile 50 where it greeted us head on.  Despite the flat road we got in some great resistance training for the last 8 miles. 

A clear shot of Mt. Diablo
Gritting my teeth to get through the wind!
I wish this picture could capture the wind speed!
After a slight wrong turn we made it to the end where we got to relax with a BBQ lunch.

Day 2: 58.55 miles/3:59:03 (14.7 pace)

My only complaint with the whole ride was that by the end of Saturday my butt was really starting to hurt.  There was nothing new about my shorts or seat - same shorts and seat that got me through ALC - it just came out of nowhere which made Sunday slightly uncomfortable.  This is one problem I have never had on my bike before either so it is puzzling.  My only thought was since the course was so flat I pretty much sat in the same place the whole time without much movement and thus no relief.  
Despite this though I have no complaints.  The volunteers were great and provided thorough support, the food was good, we lucked out with perfect fall weather, the course was much more scenic than expected and it was just a fun ride with no pressure of an event looming in the future.

I had no idea much of that area existed and it really makes for great riding.  The majority of the roads were well maintained (I would say there was rough road for only 5-8 miles each day), there were so many little towns that would make great rest stops and it was fun to ride along the water. 

This was actually my last organized cycling event for 2013.  Cycling tends to wind down as the days get shorter and the weather gets colder.  I hope to maybe get in a few more 20/25 milers before the end of the year but with CIM coming up in only 7 weeks I really need my weekends to be devoted to my long runs. 

I definitely plan to keep this event on the radar for next year though.  I have really enjoyed these last few weekends of "scenic" rides.
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4 comments:

  1. This looks like so much fun! Sounds like it was well supported too.

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  2. This looks great, I really miss cycle touring!

    I'm sure I've mentioned this before (forgive me if I'm repeating myself) but have you see crazyguyonabike.com? Loads of touring journals, I used to be addicted to it before I had a child!!!

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  3. This sounds like such a fun event! Love the vest. :)

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