Monday, June 8, 2009
Day 2 - Vallejo, CA to Sacramento, CA
Wow. If this ride gets better each day like it has so far, I'll need a twin to help me handle the excitement! Our day began with breakfast at our hotel with scattered clouds but some sun beginning to break through. Gerard, our ride leader extraordinaire, offered to take anyone interested on a slightly off-route visit to the Jelly Belly factory in Fairfield, CA. I was game. As an avid watcher of the Food Network, I love to learn how my favorite foods are made. Jelly Bellies were no exception. Most of the riders took off after luggage was loaded around 7:30. About eight of us joined Gerard and left at 8.
We followed the route north out of Vallejo. The first point of interest was the Six Flags Discovery Kingdom park about 2.5 miles north of our hotel. This would have been a fine SAG stop, but no time for roller coaster rides today. We continued on and were met with a good steady climb. Nothing at all like our big climb right out of the gate yesterday, but it was enough to warm us up.
Our route had us climbing out of American Canyon and over to I-80. We paralleled I-80 along a frontage road that was more crackseal than asphalt. At one point, we had to crawl under a fence/gate and hoist our bikes over. Watching men and women in their 70s crawling under a fence in biking gear is... well... click on the photos link and see for yourself. It's wildly entertaining!
The hills of Napa and Sonoma were now in the distance as we navigated through small communities like Cordelia, Suisun, and Vacaville. Travis Air Force Base was nearby and I spotted a refueling jet landing on the horizon. We were nearing Fairfield and the Jelly Belly Factory. I quickly spotted the series of signs leading the way and we soon were pulling into the Visitor's Center with a bright red Jelly Belly logo emblazoned over the entrance. We parked the bikes and were among the first ones inside for the first tour of the day. Photography wasn't allowed on the tour, but we got to see the factory floor with machinery whirring away as jelly beans and other assorted candies were manufactured, sorted, boxed, and bagged. I honestly expected to see a bunch of Oompa Loompas appear and break out in song and dance during the tour! But no Oompa Loompas today.
We concluded the tour and visited the gift shop, which was expansive. My kids had placed their request for A&W Root Beer Jelly Bellies, so I made sure I got those. I also purchased a Jelly Belly cycling cap which was far less costly than the $90 cycling jersey three of the other riders bought. We left the Jelly Belly factory with our candies carefully stowed and pedaled onward.
Our route now took us through fertile farmlands. The roads were flat, straight, and easy to ride. We stair-stepped our way turning rights and lefts until we reached the small town of Dixon for our one and only SAG stop of the day. Judy, one of our staff members, had purchased strawberries. Mmmmm. They were gone in seconds.
We moved on and rode through the campus of UC Davis and then the college town of Davis itself. It felt just like all of my favorite college towns I've lived in or visited. Then, the stop we were all waiting for... In-N-Out Burger! I could have gone for the Double Double or Animal Style Fries, but I stayed safe and got a cheeseburger and vanilla shake. I earned it. So good. In fact, Sean, my British roommate, who had never had an In-N-Out Burger, just commented while I was typing this that it was the best burger he's ever had! So there. If you haven't eaten at In-N-Out, you're missing out.
After lunch, we hit a bike trail that paralleled I-80. Chris, a 50-something gentleman from Columbus, OH, got out in front and pulled while Leigh, a 42-yr old gal from Seattle, and I (we Seattleites stick together), pacelined behind. With another incredible tailwind, we were making amazing time and enjoying speeds of 20-23 mph. After exiting the bike path, I shouted to Chris our appreciation. I'll follow his wheel anytime!
Now we were in West Sacramento. Not the nicest part of town, but as soon as we got on the Tower Bridge and crossed the Sacramento River, we were in Sacramento and Old Town Sac. Old Town Sac is the kind of place I could spend an afternoon. The cobblestone streets, Old West style buildings, and boardwalks and museums cried out for me to wander around and explore. But, the hotel was just a mile or two away and the shower and clean clothes cried louder. We pulled into the Best Western, got the room key, and I washed off the 72 miles of sweat, grit and grime. Nice.
Tomorrow's ride is the short one. I got mixed up thinking today's route was the 51 miles. We'll ride along the American River northeast with a stop below Folsom Lake. From there we'll ride along the winding rolling Auburn-Folsom Road into Auburn. I plan to meet old friends from our church in Olympia, WA who now pastor in Orangevale. That will be a treat. Maybe I'll share some Jelly Bellies with them.
To view more photos from today, visit http://gallery.me.com/eternaldesign2/100073.
To learn more about the Ride for Impact, visit http://www.rideforimpact.org
Elev Gained: 1197 ft.
Max Elev: 543 ft.
Avg Climb: 3%
Max Climb: 13%
(BTW, how many of you are already placing bets that these posts get shorter as the days go on?)