2017 Davis Dart: Team Steel Away

My timeliness of ride reports was doing better for a while there, and then I didn’t quite get this out before heading off on a ride of mildly inappropriate distance – and now there’s that whole story to tell – and then I got back from that – the ride that is – and The Fire happened, which somehow made writing about bike rides seem a little pointless. But now, well, the fires aren’t out, and things certainly aren’t back to normal – whatever the hell that is, anyway, but it’s calmed down a bit. And OK, maybe it is self-indulgent, but it was a nice mental break to go back and relive a simple, solid, fun day on bikes with good people.

For my first time on the Davis Dart I got to be token non-Walstad on Team Steel Away. (Yes, we all rode steel frame bikes.) Somehow Eric’s nephew Justin had found out about the event and decided to form a team. He did a great job as captain, taking care of all the paperwork and coming up with a fun route.

The start was at a 7-11 near Justin’s home in Loomis, and then we rode through downtown Loomis, which was new to me. It was still dark, so I couldn’t see much, but it seemed nice, and it sounds like there has been recent revitalization with local businesses and an event center going in to unused fruit packing sheds. Currently there is a repaving project going on, and we were surprised that they were out working on a Saturday morning.

Outside of town was quiet, and we had a few rollers before the “Big Hill of The Day” up to Auburn. The sky hinted at a pretty sunrise, but it didn’t end up coloring up as much as I thought it might. It was still nice to have daylight, and a view back over the valley. Justin pointed out Folsom Lake, which we had ridden past signs for.

I’d never been through old downtown Auburn either, so my head was swiveling around trying to take in all the historic buildings. One that looked like it ought to be at the beach with a pointy red and white striped roof turned out to be an old fire station. Our first control was at the awesome Auburn Coffee Company right across from the beautiful courthouse. Brown Butter Pumpkin Muffin FTW. Yeah, I know, it wasn’t Month of Pumpkin quite yet, but the day before was close enough for me.

From Auburn we had quick repayment for the climb, with a swoopy descent past ranchettes and pine and oak dotted hillsides. I split my time between enjoying the descent and the views. I think the guys were more focused on the descent – at least they were soon out of sight down the road, but they waited at the bottom of the hill. Eric was telling Justin and Cal how EricM would probably say this was “bucolic AF.”

There was a bit more rollery terrain as we headed toward Camp Far West Lake. Goats, yaks, irrigation canals, signs for the Wine Trail, look kids, Big Ben! (Road) – oh, that’s probably named after a person, not the clock… The Lake seemed pretty far down, apparently it had been full over the winter. Well those people parked down by the edge better hope it doesn’t start raining! OK, I guess it would take a while to fill enough for it to be a problem for them. At least they’d probably notice before it became a problem. Anyway. We saw a couple of herons and an osprey, which was cool.

The Butt(e)s. Sutter Buttes, that would be, off in the distance. World’s Smallest Mountain Range! Our info control, and then some single point perspective (long straight road) with graffiti. Huh. it looked like a high school rite of passage – I saw several different years represented. And, well I guess when you live in the middle of a big flat area, where else are you going to go spray paint but out on the road… We also rode past an awesome looking front yard jump park, although I think you’d need a motor to hit them.

Point of Historical Interest. (Not sure exactly what) Barn of the Day. Alfalfa being turned. Unidentified orchard. Walnut orchard. LONGHORNS!!! Beale Air Force Base. Rice processing facility. More orchards. Vineyard all netted over. Marysville Raceway.

And wow I had no idea Marysville had such a cute old-time downtown – lots of brick buildings and big metal archways over several of the intersections. Lunch time! Justin had found The Brick Coffee House Cafe, which was supper yummy – thank you Yelp! We enjoyed a nice sit-down meal. I got the scramble, and chose the tortilla rather than toast, thinking I wasn’t that hungry and could use the tortilla to wrap up anything I didn’t eat to take on the road. Once I got going though it ended up all going down the hatch.

Did someone say there would be pancakes??? Oh… flat as a pancake – was pretty much the rest of the ride, although it was all new to me, so there was that. We did have a bit of mixed-terrain, getting up on a levee road, which gave us a bit of elevation to see over various orchards and agriculture and another view back to the Buttes. It also got us away from traffic, which was really nice. Again we were surprised by construction going on – well, OK, there was a sign, so the surprise was that they were working on Saturday – but the operator was very nice and explained how we could get around the torn up part.

We continued to follow the Feather River, although along pavement for the rest of the way. It was interesting to see various water related infrastructure, and the different ways houses along the river were built to be above high water. There was actually a pretty long stretch without any towns or services, and I didn’t realize that maybe it would have been a good idea to stop for more fluids after we were past one little store we did see. Then I wasn’t really thinking of it when we passed a man out watering his yard. Eric did though, and stopped and got his bottles filled up. And of course was nice enough to share.

We saw the airport in the distance, and passed under I-5, and then started to see the Sacramento skyline. We followed a bike path over 80, and arrived at our 11 hour control with a couple of hours to spare. Fortunately there was pizza and beer to be had!

Then it was the final push to Davis. Justin was into his longest ride ever (yet) – Woohoo! We followed more nice bike path, got a c-c-c-c-cob-b-b-blest-tttt-one section through old town and rode over the Gold Bridge. More new stuffs! Alas Eric had foreign object impalement in his rear tire. As we were stopped for that another team went by.

We were soon back on the road, and threaded our way past the convenience stores and low rent motels to tire and auto shops and light industrial edge of town sort of businesses on the west side of Sacramento. This got us to the Yolo Causeway, which was sort of cool, being a totally separated bikeway, but also noisy, being right next to the freeway.

There were dramatical skies for the final leg to the finish in Davis. Justin’s family and Cal’s wife were meeting them at the finish, and actually drove past while we were still on the road. It was nice to see all the friendly rando faces at the finish, although we were still full from the 11 hour control pizza and beer, so didn’t get any food, and didn’t hang out too long, since we wanted to catch the earlier train back to the Bay Area, so it was pretty much take care of the paperwork/hi/bye. But it did turn out that a number of other folks were on the train, so we did get to hear about some of the other teams’ adventures there.

Thank you to Super Captain Justin for organizing and designing a fun route, and to Justin, Eric and Cal for being such a great team. Thank you to Eric Senter for being Davis Dart Coordinator and to all other volunteers. Another great day on the bike!

allthepictures, Eric’s

Ride date: September 30, 2017

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