October 8, 2015 – Sunny, 85 degrees
Miles Today: 71
Miles to Date: 8,263
States to Date: 25
Today was not fun. I was warned that Route 12 was terrible for cyclists. But even the naysayers didn’t offer alternatives. So, I struck out early and persevered.
The San Joaquin and Sacramento Rivers collect all the other rivers in the Central Valley and come together to form the California Delta, a low-lying marsh. It’s a beautiful stretch.
Unfortunately, traffic is heavy and the shoulders sketchy. Nice and wide for several miles, then they disintegrate to nothing. Over one four-mile stretch I actually walked my bike along the bumpy and soft edge; there was no way to ride on the paved surface. Route 12 must be notorious for traffic deaths as it’s lined with signs about driving safe. Past Rio Vista there are yellow stanchions to ensure that no one passes. That also means no one can shift over to give me space. So, I wound up riding a stretch, then pulling over to let a line of traffic pass, then riding some more. Once again, the courteous and patient truck drivers impressed me. The guys in pick-up trucks – not so much.
Finally, the road widened and I pedaled the Solano County hills. I reached Fairfield, a hot and tawny town, by noon. After a long lunch break and many missed turns, I found the bike path that parallels I-80 east from town. I spent miles along wide boulevards in the exploding exurbs of San Francisco in an appalling new development with streets named ‘Business Center Drive’ and ‘Healthcare Court’. The entire area is so spread out and separately zoned it can only be accessed by car. Do we ever learn anything?
When I reached the I-680/I-80 interchange, under construction, all signs of the bike path disintegrated. I spent half an hour seeking a safe way back onto Route 12. Finally, I just sucked it up and went on I-80 for one exit before climbing out the valley.
At the top of the rise, the road spread out, the temperature dropped fifteen degrees, and the views were spectacular. Welcome to Napa! Instead of feeling sorry for myself, I could feel bad for the people trapped in their bumper-to-bumper traffic.
I rolled into Napa and spent a lovely evening with a warmshowers host and a few of her friends. A shower, a beer, homemade bread with cheese and grilled pork tacos can make a guy forget a harrowing day.