Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The return of summer

This has been, without doubt, the coolest summer in at least 20 years.  We've had weeks of days with temperatures reaching no higher than the mid-80s, which in a climate without humidity, feels like 70.  It has been absolutely perfect weather -- the kind I'd pack up and go to find on vacation.

So, I'm not about to complain about this week's return to normal August temperatures.  The mercury is on its way to 106 today, we're told.  It's 101 or so as of 3 p.m. and the truly hot part of the day lies ahead.

The once concession I made to the heat was to ride to the office a bit earlier than usual and to head for the home office a bit earlier as well.  My ride home was in triple-digit heat, but I have to say I truly enjoyed it.

I kept the Mercier moving at a respectable pace and the resulting breeze truly felt like a very pleasant sauna.  Hot, dry air clearing the sinuses and creating a kind of waterless bath around you.

Now, I'll stipulate that if you're stuck in the sun, 101 or 106 is truly tortuous.  Probably not survivable for long.  But for a 5.5 mile ride home to a refreshing swimming pool, it's Heaven.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Big Day in Old Sac

For some reason, humble Old Sacramento was selected as the gathering/lunch spot for the GoogleMaps crew today.  There were four of their 360-degree camera vehicles parked outside the Subway on Second Street.  (I only got three in this awful mid-day photo).

A block away, four cars belonging to a Palm promotions team were parked at Second and K streets.  Weird.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Stolen goods

One fork of Sacramento's bike trail winds behind the Blue Diamond Almond plant, where the smell of roasting almonds can be intoxicating and where flowers line both sides of the road. The flowers are four o'clocks, or mirabilis jalopa.  Their brightly-colored blossoms tend to open in the late afternoon, hence their common name.  (Although in Sacramento, four o'clock is several hours too early for the cooler temperatures they need to open).

When I was a boy, we had four o'clocks lining the path through our backyard.  They were a big deal to my mom and dad and they always make me think of those days when I see them today. 

Now, while our backyard is home to a growing crop of the flowers, we have only red and yellow blossoms.  So, when I saw that the Blue Diamond plants were also sporting white and pink blossoms, I decided it was perfectly OK to liberate a few clusters of the dried flowers and tiny seeds.  The flowers produce copious seeds, each the size, shape and color of a black peppercorn.  On several rides, I grab a few of the spent blossom clusters, stuff them in a pocket or basket, ride home and toss them among our red-and-yellow beds.

Hopefully, next spring will find two new colors added to our garden. 

Monday, August 2, 2010

Anti theft system

I spotted these two Rivendell Quickbeams parked outside a local watering hole/breakfast place over the weekend and stopped for a closer look.  Only then did I notice the vigilant guard charged with protecting them.  Nobody's going to mess with these beautiful bikes -- including the red Worksman! -- as long as this guy's on the job.

The Rivendells belong to delightful people who might be Sacramento's "First Couple" of cycling.  They are beautifully outfitted with Brooks saddles and classic grips -- cork-and-twine on one, wood on the other.

A clear-headed take on cycling risk

Don, a good friend from the newspaper days and now a helpful guide to the world of cycling, is back on his bike after his second serious injury of the year.

Read about his thoughts on the fall and the risks of cycling on his day-job blog here.

We're glad you're back, Don!  You're due for some drama-free cycling for a long time to come.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

cycling to Vegas

Well, not really.  But I've always been intrigued by the stretch of motels along West Capitol Avenue in West Sacramento.  There are a fraction of the number that used to be there, but there are still plenty compared to most other streets in the world.

Someone explained once that these motels predate the interstate highways; they're from a time when West Capitol Avenue was not just a street in Sacramento's poorer neighbor, but the route to San Francisco.  And, if you're traveling by bicycle, it still is the road to all parts west.  So, a bicycle journey to Davis takes you along the road and beside the motels that greeted motorists half a century ago. I suppose with the east side of the river dedicated to the boulevard leading up to the state capitol, it made sense for the motels to cluster just west of the river.

What remains a mystery, though, is why so many of them share names with famous Las Vegas hotels of the 50s and 60s.  There's a Sahara, a Fremont and a Flamingo.  I so wish I had taken pictures of the half-dozen or more others that used to line the road.

At the east end of the avenue sits a true link to Vegas.  It's a Buddhist convent today, but for decades it was the El Rancho resort.  Just like the El Rancho Vegas, the first hotel/resort on The Strip -- no matter what the Flamingo says.  The ranch-style design, the stand-alone bungalows and even the awnings are all straight out of the 1950s incarnation of the El Rancho.  I'm told they shared common ownership, so the similarities are no mystery.  Why you'd develop a resort in West Sacramento, however, is very much a mystery.