Riding the ACA Western Express Bicycle Trail. Sunday 6-11-17
And laugh he did today! Well, maybe just a chuckle. Nothing bad happened–just low mileage let down.
As usual, Saturday was an off-the-bike day spent in this case reading, sleeping, and a short local walk. Nothing to report.
Today had a slow start from the cave in Sacramento–cozy and hard to drag out of bed at 6 am. We still had tons of yogurts to eat and orange juice left over and that was a good start. The real issue was that it is just so hard to get out of bed and onto the road. This is where tents are a huge advantage. In the woods or on tour, it is always easier to leave a tent than it is a bed. We made it out though by ten. I still wanted to hit an REI for last things before we leave civilization. Here were my genuius plans. 1: Leave Rami at a Starbucks with the bikes and get a Lyft for the 5 miles round trip to the store. Outcome: No Lyft connection available on my phone over and over–so that idea died. Lyft–if you are reading this–wtf?? B: A cab to do the same. Outcome: 10 rings and then an answering machine at the 24 hour cab co. Hey cab co., I hope Uber wipes you out–you would have been over-priced and slow to show up anyway. Plan The Thirde: Ride the 2.5 back to the REI in town. Outcome: turns out they do not open until 11am anyway and we were not going to wait a gratuitous hour. In the event, we might have been penny wise and pound foolish.
We left town again by way of the inner city bike path. Rami had found a story about a cyclist being attacked by machete wielding “stabby hoboes” not that long back and right close to where we needed to get the path. Machete Man was taking a break this morning, so we were lucky. Nevertheless, there was ample evidence again that every cranny of this city has been taken over. But as we headed north and west the path became less dicey and more like a regular path. A word about the homeless. This is always such a dilemma. We have an obligation to recognize and respect the humanity of these hard done by fellow humans. But many have made mistakes and are still living in their shadows. The tattooed tear on the face that says “I have screwed up mightily” or the premature toothlessness of meth habits are only the most visible markers of people who have lost their way or been shoved off their path. But guess what? People make mistakes. They do. So does that mean that they lose the right to humanity? It is amazing that we cannot figure out that punishments and punitive reward systems just don’t work. Too often we say to the drowning, “show me you can swim, and then I will throw you the life rope–but if you continue to drown, I will take the rope away. I don’t want to waste any rope on someone who might end up drowned anyway.” We need to change this attitude and just help people because they need help–not because they are somehow virtuous or somehow improving. And at the same time, there is no disputing the very real damage broken people do to those around them and the places they end up. Rami and I have been discussing this a lot. He has a deep romance with the edgy, the off grid, the untamed, and the seemingly free. He often talks about wanting to freight hop (bye bye leg!), or live in hobo camp–all fun and games until the fights begin. There is no point in arguing that that is not a life to romanticize–I am more in line with the butlers in Sullivan’s Travels on this one. I reminded him that many of the people we passed would happily slit his throat at night to steal all his nice bike gear. I think he gets this, and he was eager to move along when Machete Man came by on Friday. I read him as confonting ideas in words and playing out ideas in fantasy. The world is very cruel and grim right now and our sweet soft little ones are absorbing every dark and ugly iota of a culture that still thinks that it is entertaining to watch people–albeit actors–act cruelly and violently to one another. If you think about it, you’d realize how insane that can be. With that said–I still am Rik Mayall fan–so, inconsistent I guess. I think part of this ongoing discussion is because as cycle tourists, we are in some ways just like the homeless. Of course we have we some money to help us along (less and less as it happens). But we are in the elements too and looking for water and places to sleep.
Like now for example. The rest of the ride to Folsom was great. The trail is wide and lovely. Its markings are confusing though. They ask walkers to stay left while cyclists stay right, The result is that we kept having people walking towards us. That pissed me off at first–I read it as ignorance. I jumped to the left lane thinking that maybe this was a dividend path–riders on one side and walkers on the other. But an oncoming pace line quickly disabused me of this error with a classic “WTF??” hand gesture, and I appoliogize for being the momentary turd in the water pipe. The managers have painted instructional messages on the paveing, but they are worn to varying degrees making it hit or miss if your can read them. On top of that, the sentences are all pressed close together so that you can’t read them all as you fly by. American River Bike Trail Elves–try to spread those sentences out a bit more–make them more like the Burma Shave signs of old. We can only read a few words at a time as we pass–give us a fighting chance here!
But–once we were out on the trail and knew the rules, it was great. Lovely little bends in the trail and gentle hills. It was a Sunday, so lots of riders were out. We met and chatted with many very nice super helpful people. A few wished us a safe journey as they passed and we got lots of other nice comments. These are our people and they all recognize what the fully loaded panniers mean. Many many lovely bikes too. All makes and frame designs but the guy with the titanium Seven with the Ritchie Logic stem, Chris King headset and Dura Ace mechanical was a stand out. He helped us out at a confusing fork in the trail and later I told Rami that that was like a $7000 bike. He was unimpressed. I was not though, and so, Ponytail Man in the American flag Rolling Stones Cycling Jersey–I salute you and your awesome elegant bike. See, the issue here is that titanium is as light as carbon but can still have the classic gorgeous lines of a steel bike, whereas carbon, and even alloy, will have to be all thick and bulky in crucial places. Viva the classic lines, and double viva for a classic ride that is less that 16 pounds (this is weight and not currency–the rapidly devaluing British Pound would need to come in at about 5500 to get a bike like that).
We got to Folsom and ate a bit. Then, bike stores for the last of the shakedown fixes. Mike’s provided about 50 bucks worth of gels and beans–as well as the California themed cap I was wanting since San Fran. Thanks Mike’s–trust me, the cap will look like crap soon enough. But the fiddlier stuff they had not. They told us the short cut to REI and the next shortcut back to the trail. Next stop REI where Doug fixed the broken bolt and Rami’s front rack is back to normal. Doug and the others were full of great info–including the news that the shortcut road we needed was shut down. Over a big hill and down a dirt path was the way ahead. But by the time were done at REI–the only one I have ever seen that sells shock cord too!!–it looked like the 25 to Plymouth was a bit of a challenge. On top of that, the sky hard turned black and we the wind was bringing it our way fast. We scooted off to a ritzy Starbucks 0.5 away and here I sit waiting for rain that missed us. Looks like we are camping just north of Folsom tonight as long as I can get Rami out of the Barnes and Noble close by from where he keeps texting me about the books he has found and the ones he wants to buy. He is torn between Arthurian poetry and “The State and Revolution.” Maybe he plans on creating a homeless hobo round table and initiating the Off Grid Revolution. Then again, this place is lousy with high school girls– so I may never see Rami again.