KEEP GOING … Bicyclists love Chico because it’s flat. Its utter lack of incline makes two-pedaled transportation easy and effective. The city’s rural atmosphere and quick access to country roads open up countless rides in the surrounding area.
One of the shortest and most popular rides is the 15-mile route out to the Sacramento River and back. The River Road Loop, as it’s known, may be a little much for Timmy and his training wheels, but the ride is suitable for anyone who can pedal a two-wheeler on his or her own.
The simplest version of the ride starts on West Sacramento Avenue, crosses Nord Avenue and continues west out of town. In a matter of a few short miles, houses give way to almond orchards and the tranquility begins—no more college kids racing past you to hurry up and wait at the next light. And, as in much of Northern California this time of year, the leaves are making their comeback in the orchards, as if showering the rows of almond and cherry trees with a vibrant green coating.
THE SCENIC ROUTE West Sac takes you pretty much straight on out to the big river. Hanging a left on River Road, the ride turns parallel to the swollen Sacramento. Most of the way, the road is buffered by hypnotic orchards on the left and swampy sloughs on the right. However, the right side opens up for a short stretch to reveal the river itself.
Turn left onto Chico River Road, and the ride begins weaving its way back toward town. This is the busiest part of the route, with the occasional car zipping past in either direction. Slowly, the orchards transform back into houses, and then the road dumps you out on the corner of Fifth and Walnut streets.
Obviously, a road bike would make the River Road Loop much less strenuous, but a well conditioned townie-cruiser would have no problem making the trek. Be sure to bring a headlamp, patch kit, spare tube, pump and the necessary tools just in case.
MORE BIKE FOR YOUR BUCK To turn it into an all-day event, pack a lunch and picnic on the banks of the Sacramento River. Or hang a right on River Road and make the one-mile detour up to Scotty’s Boat Landing for a burger and a beer.
The grid-like layout of Chico’s orchards allows for a number of route modifications. Consult a map first.
For more information on Chico-area rides, stop in at any of the local bike shops or contact Chico Velo, the local cycling organization, at (530) 343-8356. You can also visit their Web site at www.chicovelo.org.
Don’t have anyone to go with? Chico Velo also organizes a number of weekly rides and has the annual Chico Wildflower ride coming up April 30.