Hidden Gems of Sacramento Cycling Routes: The Dead End Summer Tour

Hidden Gems of Sacramento Cycling Routes: The Dead End Summer Tour

There is a familiar bit of wisdom that states “When Life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” Welcome to the year 2020.

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, Breathe California has had to cancel plans for our 34th Annual Bike Trek, originally scheduled for this September in Amador County. At the end of May, we introduced the June Challenge to keep our fellow cyclists inspired to ride their bikes this summer. Now, we’re working diligently to bring our wonderful Trek community back together again in support of Breathe’s critical work for clean air and healthy lungs. There have been a lot of questions along the way, and I’ve often headed out on my road bike in search of inspiration and answers. So, I was happy to stumble on this sage advice recently, just before heading up a steep hill in Loomis.

A message we all need to hear right now: Don’t Give Up.

If you have already been riding all the routes in Breathe’s 2020 June Challenge, we want to hear from you! But if summer 2020 is starting to feel like a “dead end,” then I hope you’ll join me in my own personal bit of inspiration. I’m calling it the Dead End Summer Tour, and I hope it will both surprise and delight you. That’s because you get to revel in your own personal discoveries – I’m just planting a seed here by sharing mine with you. If you were an explorer of new worlds in a previous life – or are simply tired of the same old thing in this life – this tour is for you.

How this works couldn’t be simpler: For decades, I have been riding up and down the same foothill roads in Placer County, centered around the town of Loomis. But I’ve almost never, ever rode down the scores of little dead-end roads to see what the heck was there. Until now.

This summer, in a fit of creativity and resilience, I’m exploring nearly every sliver of pavement that includes an actual street sign (and some that don’t).

Dead end ahead: No Outlet.
Where the pavement ends.

Not surprisingly, paved dead-end roads often end like you might expect them to – in gravel. My next challenge will be to link together as many gravel roads as I can and tackle them on a gravel bike. As I travel down these quiet roads, bits of history start to poke their way out of the weeds.

The log cabin.
The rusting buckboard.

On one of my Dead End Tours, you might expect to find an old barn or two. I was sure surprised to find this neglected, rusting old pick-up truck tucked away under a barn’s shed roof. (A little further down the road, I stumbled upon a 1950’s Corvette, stashed among trash piles behind a ramshackle country house.)

The ramshackle barn.
Another hidden gem behind a barn.

As it turns out, the dead-end roads in my neighborhood range from pot-holed nightmares to a surprising number of newly paved roads that are a joy to ride on (albeit, briefly). Scattered among the horse ranches, I’ve discovered everything from cute little country cottages to jaw-dropping “lottery homes”. (One house that I rode by recently had – I’m not making this up – an 11-car garage!)

Cute country cottage.
A ‘lottery home.’

Wherever you choose to create your own tour, cycling is one of the most enjoyable things you can do to build strong muscles and healthy lungs, and to promote the healthy immune system and positive outlook that we all need during the pandemic (in my opinion, at least). Breathe California works every day to improve lung health in our community, which is why the Bike Trek has been such a joy for us all every year. I’m encouraging you to keep that spirit alive, right now, with your own discoveries.

In my next post, I’ll discuss a bit about route planning, plus how you can amaze your friends with discoveries from your own tour. Plus, I’ll continue to share some more surprises and revelations from my own Dead End Summer Tour.

For more on how to stay safe while riding during the pandemic, read this blog post on staying confident while cycling solo here.

Photos by Steve “Boz” Boswell.

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