A spring adventure – The Rides


Spring Break, 2021

I don’t recall having a real Spring Break trip last year… If I’m remembering correctly, I did a short Spring Break trip down to Joshua Tree back in 2019, but 2020 didn’t quite lend itself to much traveling…

With that in mind, and looking at how much vacation time I’d accumulated over the last year or so, I realized that I really did need to take some time off to escape from work, from Wilsonville, and from getting stuck in my own head. Thankfully, most travel restrictions on the West Coast have been lifted, and my back’s been feeling a lot better… and I was able to finally make the long trek down to Sacramento to visit my friend Mike and finally meet his girlfriend Michelle!

It was a long drive, and a full week of stepping out of my usual little patch of world. I didn’t really go into it expecting anything specific, but I came out having even more appreciation for my friends, and feeling gloriously rested and recharged. I’m not quite back to my old self yet… but this trip was an amazing change to stretch back into myself, and just… explore.

Sunday, 02-May

I haven’t really been riding my bike that often – I enjoy it, but with the injured back I didn’t want to make it any worse by staying hunched over for long periods. That was quite a while ago though, and it’s been feeling steadily better as I’ve been adding weights to the various lifts at the gym… On top of that, Mike and Michelle are both really into biking around Sacramento, and were pretty emphatic about how beautiful the city is by bike…

We started with a ride for breakfast.

Beautiful trees, tons of glorious shade, and a perfectly relaxed pace brought us to the restaurant. Then a slightly longer ride home via the riverway bike trail, enjoying the California sun and the pretty desert ambiance. It… felt really good, actually. Surprisingly good, and with Mike still chomping at the bit to keep riding, I couldn’t say no to a slightly longer afternoon ride.

We hit the Jedediah Smith Memorial Bike Trail, along the American River. We drove one of our cars out a few miles, hopped on the trail, and headed back into the city for a lovely there and back ride. The trail itself was beautiful – a gracefully winding trail along the American River.

The best part was just the relaxation, though – nothing against the scenery, but it’d been so long since I’ve just been able to chat with someone while riding, and just let our minds and the conversation wander wherever it felt like. We biked, cruised, chatted, and enjoyed the scene. The sun, the breeze, and the landscape were all on point, flashing by under our tires.

We cruised for a lot of it… but even that ended up being quite fast, when we stopped to look at how far we’d actually come. I felt good, but… Dang it’s been a while since I’ve biked. My seat was sore, legs were tired…

We stopped in town for a quite bite to eat for dinner, but honestly I was pretty well bushed by that point. After biking home, all I was capable of was a relaxing evening on the couch, reading and making friends with their cat.

It was perfect. Absolutely perfect.

Vital stats:
Distance biked = 30.82 miles
Biking duration = about 8 hours

Tuesday, 04-May

The drive into Tahoe was gorgeous, and absolutely left me wanting more – maybe not to drive more, but definitely to experience more of the lake and the mountains surrounding it… Ideally some way slightly quicker than walking… Maybe some way that Mike was obsessed with…

Hmm… I wonder what possible method of movement that could describe…

Yeah, we jumped on the bikes pretty quickly after getting settled into the house. Not right away, but… within 30min, I’d say. Maybe less.

We took a clockwise route out from the Keys where we were staying, heading toward the end of the bike path, as far as we could ride before really driving into the harsh hills where the bike path and the road mix. We felt energized, but… maybe not quite energized enough to bike along a 45mph highway at a 10% grade? Yeah, we’re strong, but not quite that strong.

The ride was gorgeous. It was around 8 miles round trip, maybe a little more, riding through beautiful forests that toed the line between temperate and high desert. Lots of sage, but also lots of interesting ground cover and massive pine cones, dropped from the huge soaring trees.

We hit the end of the trail, rested a moment, and then headed back toward the house via the various beaches along the lake. We had a rough timeline we wanted to keep, but had easily enough time to take a few scenic detours to stare across the lake and cool our toes in the mountain water.

Glorious. Just absolutely glorious.

Wednesday, 05-May

After hiking and grabbing lunch, we still had some time before we needed to head back toward Sacramento… and driving around Squaw Valley had left me astounded at just how beautiful that valley really was. I needed to see it by the back of a bike; I needed the slow movement of the mountains as we rode, and I needed the chance to stop by the side of the road to take more than a few pictures.

This was a pretty short ride, for a change… just a quick stretch of the legs before getting back on the road to Sacramento.

For a short ride though… dang. The views!

I mean, okay. I’m sure there were a lot of reasons that the 1960 Olympics were held here. The skiing, the space, all of it. Sure, they’re awesome.

But the views! I can’t imagine the views didn’t weigh into it, and weigh quite heavily…

Thursday, 06-May

After coming back from Tahoe, we still had the whole rest of the week to enjoy, relax, and unwind… Mike and Michelle both had work during the day, but… I was steadfastly escaping from that. I mean, sure. I could have logged into my work email and saved some vacation time, but… come on, man. I’m in California! It’s time to explore and relax!

I biked, I checked out some of the neighborhoods that Mike suggested, and I kept my little tradition going for getting breakfast at that cool English place down the street.

I don’t quite remember all the details, but you know what? That’s completely okay – this vacation was all about relaxing and experiencing, and I did an excellent job of doing just that. When I biked, I had a vague idea of where I wanted to go… but frankly, I didn’t hold myself too strictly to it.

If a light was red? Well, I’d take a turn and keep going. Or if I was feeling a bit toasty from the ride? Some shade can always be found, and a chapter or two of my book can get read.

It was a good day.

Saturday, 08-May

Saturday dawned, and it was almost time for me to get back onto the road and on my way home to Oregon. But… Not quite right away, right? The drive was long, but not that long…

We pulled out the bikes, and went for one last Sacramento ride; stretching my legs and taking a guided tour of a few parts of Sac that I hadn’t gotten to see just yet. Nothing crazy, but exactly the right amount of time for us to enjoy, and burn down the timer until our table was ready for Breakfast.

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