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  1. #1
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    Experience biking from Central Valley up to Yuba and Sutter Counties?

    Hi,

    I'm trying to plan a ride from the Tracy/Stockton area up through Sacramento or Davis and towards Oroville in mid November. I plan to start training immediately because I currently only ride for fun and commuting which is about 5-7 miles a day and I'd like to be able to ride 100 miles in one day for this tour.

    I've never biked in this area before and even though I'll be doing it with locals, none of them are avid cyclists. Does anyone have experience with this area of California?

    Weather? (mid-Nov)

    Route? Main roads vs bike paths according to Google Maps

    Elevation change? Is it hilly or mostly flat?

    Wind?

    Any advice or experience would be appreciated!

  2. #2
    Senior Member simplygib's Avatar
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    I've done lots and lots of biking in and around Sacramento and down into the Delta as far as Lodi or so. And although I haven't ridden between Sacramento and Oroville I do know the area, having spent 55 years or so around Sac. Very little elevation gain. The elevation around Oroville is about 200 feet, and you're close to sea level in Tracy/Stockton. Weather probably anywhere from 50's to 60's, possible rain, maybe some fog, maybe nice sunny and cool days. Wind is anybody's guess, depending on if there's a storm in the area or not. Typical wind tunnel effect ("Delta Breeze") through the Carquinez Straights are long gone by that time of year. Routes? Lots of back roads heading up in that direction, bike paths around Sacramento - American River Bike Trail (aka Jedediah Smith Memorial Trail) and Sacramento Northern Bike Trail - and probably in Stockton but they aren't going to stretch too far north out of the cities. Davis is a cool city for bikes but probably out of your way a bit.

    100 miles per day is a pretty tall order for a bunch of people who aren't avid cyclists. But it's not impossible, especially if the riders are in good shape. At that rate you'll be there in a day and a half.
    Last edited by simplygib; 09-23-12 at 06:40 PM.

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    Thank you! I'm going to look up some of the paths you mentioned. I just want to do 100 miles the first day, after that it doesn't matter. Good to know there isn't much elevation gain and that there are plenty of back roads in the area. Are they all pretty decent or are we looking at some bump rides?

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    If you're looking to ride together, you should also practice some pacelines and getting used to riding close together, calling or pointing to possible problems ahead, such as potholes. Taking turns drafting one another, while not as important touring as at racing speeds, still can make that 100 mile goal easier to reach. The downside is that it requires greater concentration on the other riders instead of relaxing and enoying the scenery, but still you should do some training together, just for safety's sake so that you get get an idea of any squirrely riders and who just pounds out a geometrically perfect straight line mile after mile.

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    Senior Member simplygib's Avatar
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    Go to Google Maps and get directions in bicycle mode from Tracy to Oroville. It will plot you a route that appears to be good roads until you get north of Sacramento. From Lodi to Sac much of it is on roads with shoulders but that could also have some fast traffic. Once in Sac it puts you on the American River Bike Trail to the Sacramento Northern Bike Trail, which will get you as far north as the airport (Elverta Rd.). After that, I'm not sure, looks to be a lot of shoulderless riding, which could be fine if there's light traffic, or could be a nightmare otherwise. Play around with that and with street view to see what it gives you. Google Maps is not to be blindly trusted. You need to double-check what it suggests. But it can be a starting point.

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    From Davis north, I'd recommend County Rd 102 to Knights Landing, then 113/S. George Washington Way to Yuba City. 113 has a fair amount of traffic but has a good shoulder. Then connect to Broadway, then to Township Rd. all the way to Gridley. Then Biggs/Gridley, Riceton and Midway to Hwy 162. Which will take you directly to Oroville. The roads are in decent shape and walnut/rice harvest should be over by then so truck traffic shouldn't be a problem. Do not ride on 99 or 70. Both have been recently widened and have wide shoulders but lots of trucks and ag equipment make this a pretty scary ride.

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    Packfodding 3 caloso's Avatar
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    I live in Sacramento and grew up in Wheatland. I'll occasionally ride up to my parents' house and am fairly familiar with the roads. They are dead flat, exposed to the wind, and in various states of repair from poor to excellent. From Sacramento north, I would not recommend the Sacramento Northern Bike Trail as that passes through a fairly dicey part of town. Instead, take the Ueda Bike Trail north. It will become East Levee Road. Continue north to Howsley, right turn and over the creek, left on Pacific and continue north.

    Keep an eye out for migrating waterfowl. One November afternoon I was treated to the sight of thousands of swans lifting off a flooded rice field.
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    Quote Originally Posted by blauger View Post
    From Davis north, I'd recommend County Rd 102 to Knights Landing, then 113/S. George Washington Way to Yuba City. 113 has a fair amount of traffic but has a good shoulder. Then connect to Broadway, then to Township Rd. all the way to Gridley. Then Biggs/Gridley, Riceton and Midway to Hwy 162. Which will take you directly to Oroville. The roads are in decent shape and walnut/rice harvest should be over by then so truck traffic shouldn't be a problem. Do not ride on 99 or 70. Both have been recently widened and have wide shoulders but lots of trucks and ag equipment make this a pretty scary ride.
    I rode 113 one time from Knights Landing towards Yuba City and it was awful. Even before 6 am it was packed with commuters all going 75 mph.

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    It was three years ago so perhaps my memory isn't that good but the route I mentioned didn't seem that bad. I was going south, not north and mid-afternoon, not rush hour. There are a lot of smaller roads through the orchards but they can be hit or miss in regards to surface quality.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Medic Zero's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blauger View Post
    From Davis north, I'd recommend County Rd 102 to Knights Landing, then 113/S. George Washington Way to Yuba City. 113 has a fair amount of traffic but has a good shoulder. Then connect to Broadway, then to Township Rd. all the way to Gridley. Then Biggs/Gridley, Riceton and Midway to Hwy 162. Which will take you directly to Oroville. The roads are in decent shape and walnut/rice harvest should be over by then so truck traffic shouldn't be a problem. Do not ride on 99 or 70. Both have been recently widened and have wide shoulders but lots of trucks and ag equipment make this a pretty scary ride.
    Is 113 like a freeway up there like it is between Woodland and Davis? If so, I disagree with that part. I grew up in the area and rode from Sacramento to Davis - Woodland - Berryessa - Napa - Clear Lake last year. The county roads are great. Alongside 113 you'll have all the freeway noise and debris from disintegrated tires and other road debris. The county roads are in good repair and have very little traffic. You should be able to take nice country roads most or all of the way. In Yolo county at least there is a county road every mile (both North/South and East/West). I imagine many of the other counties are just as well roaded. When I'm touring I'll take a quiet country lane over a freeways verge every time. The noise factor alone is worth it. So much more pleasant of a ride! But also the view is so much better, you get to see peoples houses, yards, waterways, and farms rather than the sanitized highway edge.

    I do agree about Highway 99, I wouldn't ride that if I could avoid it.
    Last edited by Medic Zero; 09-27-12 at 12:35 AM.
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by simplygib View Post
    Go to Google Maps and get directions in bicycle mode from Tracy to Oroville. It will plot you a route that appears to be good roads until you get north of Sacramento. From Lodi to Sac much of it is on roads with shoulders but that could also have some fast traffic. Once in Sac it puts you on the American River Bike Trail to the Sacramento Northern Bike Trail, which will get you as far north as the airport (Elverta Rd.). After that, I'm not sure, looks to be a lot of shoulderless riding, which could be fine if there's light traffic, or could be a nightmare otherwise. Play around with that and with street view to see what it gives you. Google Maps is not to be blindly trusted. You need to double-check what it suggests. But it can be a starting point.
    Yeah, you're right about after Elverta Rd. Natomas Rd. looks pretty narrow and wouldn't be fun if it sees a lot of traffic. It's almost as if the trails disappear north of Sacramento.


    The way it is breaking down is this -

    1. 3-5 experienced riders from Stocton, Ca in the early morning towards Sacramento

    Google Maps gives me West Ln. as the main route out of Stocton but it doesn't look quite as nice as N. California, N. Pershing and catching N. Lower Sac Rd. a bit earlier. After that it is Riley rd. all the way close to Elk Grove and into Sac after which it seems easy to get to Discovery Park.

    Any comments/suggestions? Trying to minimize high traffic/small shoulder roads for a more pleasant ride.


    2. 4-5 less experienced riders will go from Davis and meet us in the Sacramento area

    Still working on this

    3. The entire group heads from Sac to make it to Yuba City before dark and the projected evening rainshower ~6pm

    This is the part I am worried about. I will have to spend some time plotting a route through small/side roads.

  12. #12
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    If you start further South you can bike on a bike only path for many many miles along the Delta Mendota canal. Fishing is great. Although rather lonely you really are in a couple miles or less from a freeway running parallel on the other side of the canal. The State maintains this as an official bike path. You have gated fences along the path that keep out cars but spaces are there to get a bike through. Calif has handout showing where water is available, etc. No automobiles on the path.

    Parking available in lots at both ends and in the middle. As I recall the whole thing is about 65 miles long and goes along besides hiway 5, or is it 33, I forget... Rode it long ago a couple times.

    EDIT this would be along the West side of the SJ Central valley. From the Northern exit of the trail you could head straight up North and a little East and then go through Davis eventually. Traffic is less in the strips along besides highway 5 (west side of SJ valley) as opposed to the roads parallel the East side of the SJ valley (near highway 99).

    In general going S-N along the valley the East side has more facilities, much more auto traffic, but it is completely flat. The West side is pretty flat but there are more gentle hills along the way.
    Last edited by Olden Crow; 10-28-12 at 01:22 AM.
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  13. #13
    eternalvoyage
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    The Garden Highway between Sac and Marysville is a quiet, bypassed road along the river. It's a beautiful ride.

    Other quiet backroads through the Valley also make for good riding.

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    Senior Member jeremyb's Avatar
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    Yeah it is a bit further south but sounds like it would be pleasant ride. I'll store it in the rolodex for the future. Thank you

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    Quote Originally Posted by Niles H. View Post
    The Garden Highway between Sac and Marysville is a quiet, bypassed road along the river. It's a beautiful ride.

    Other quiet backroads through the Valley also make for good riding.
    I was wondering about that one, it seems like it would be nice but I was worried about traffic and road conditions. Good to hear it isn't too busy. Thank you!

    It seems like there is either a road or path parallel to it and closer to the river for quite a few miles but I can't tell road conditions. Garden seems to have a wide shoulder and should work nicely.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jeremyb View Post
    No, I hadn't but that is awesome! Thank you! They have the reverse and some other useful routes as well.

  18. #18
    Senior Member jeremyb's Avatar
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    I'm going to try riding a longer section of the Folsom South Canal Trail down to my inlaws house in Herald --- requires two river crossings:

    http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=5723958

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    Packfodding 3 caloso's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jatree View Post
    I was wondering about that one, it seems like it would be nice but I was worried about traffic and road conditions. Good to hear it isn't too busy. Thank you!

    It seems like there is either a road or path parallel to it and closer to the river for quite a few miles but I can't tell road conditions. Garden seems to have a wide shoulder and should work nicely.
    I haven't been on it since September so my information may be out of date. They have been working on a parallel path over the summer as part of the levee rehabilitation. Portions of it were paved but I am not sure how far that goes.
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeremyb View Post
    I'm going to try riding a longer section of the Folsom South Canal Trail down to my inlaws house in Herald --- requires two river crossings:

    http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=5723958
    Good luck! Thanks for sharing that website. Very useful to build routes in.

    Quote Originally Posted by caloso View Post
    I haven't been on it since September so my information may be out of date. They have been working on a parallel path over the summer as part of the levee rehabilitation. Portions of it were paved but I am not sure how far that goes.
    Good to know. The route I am favoring now is the Sacramento Northern Bike Trail to get out of Sac from Discovery Park.

  21. #21
    eternalvoyage
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    You're welcome -- glad to be of service. I've seen two 'Garden Highways' in the area; the one I had in mind is the old two-lane road very near the river (it's basically right along the river). --Like going back in time. Very quiet. Nice riding.

    Have a great trip.

    [edit: for clarity]
    Last edited by Niles H.; 11-02-12 at 02:16 PM.

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