Sports & Recreation
Best place to get down and dirty
Prairie City State Vehicular Recreation Area
Once upon a time, when struck by the urge to do it in the dirt, one merely had to give the trusty two-stroke a couple of quick kicks and ride straight out of the backyard into the wild dirt yonder. That was before they invented fences, emission laws and noise statutes. Today’s dirt biker is faced with a diminishing number of choices. Fortunately for Sacramento off-road aficionados, one of those choices is the Prairie City State Vehicular Recreation Area, located in the rolling hills south of Highway 50 between Rancho Cordova and Folsom. Here, motocrossers, trail riders, ATVers, quarter-midget-car racers, BMXers, four-wheelers, go-karters and mini-bikers can ride to their hearts’ content in an excellently maintained facility run by the California Parks and Recreation Department with help from the world-famous Dirt Diggers Motorcycle Club. Prairie City hosts the Hangtown AMA (American Motorcycle Association) national motocross race every May and features a family-friendly environment with ample parking, picnic areas and clean restrooms. No doubt about it, it’s the best place to get down and dirty. 13300 White Rock Road in Rancho Cordova, (916) 985-7378.
Best River Cat
Simply put, Jason Windsor owns the Pacific Coast League. He came up to Sacramento on May 5 and went 13-1, in 20 starts, with a 3.81 earned-run average. His success also has eased the collective worry of Oakland fans (the Cats are Oakland’s farm team): Perennial ace Barry Zito will leave the Bay Area at the end of this season, and Windsor—a 6-foot-2-inch, 24-year-old righty with a great change-up and good movement—is the A’s post-Zito hope. Honorable mentions go to outfielder Doug Clark and pitcher Shane Komine, who both had solid seasons. www.rivercats.com.
Best hope for the Kings
For a guy with a bad haircut, a banal nickname and an unorthodox jump shot, Kevin Martin sure can ball. In 2005, his sophomore season, he started 41 games at the two spot, and his game really came to fruition. He shot 48 percent from the field and 37 percent from the arc, which is absurd considering his herky-jerky, what-the-hell-was-that technique. He also earned points for being a skinny dude that takes it to the hole, especially on a team that’s disreputably passive—a nice way of saying soft. If Martin can put up 15 a night and stay healthy, the Kings should be able to capture the fourth seed in the West (that is, if Ron “someone started trouble, and I ended it” Artest doesn’t beat up any Granite Bay season-ticket holders). www.nba.com/kings.
Best place for a long, slow paddle
Sacramento State Aquatic Center
CSUS’ Aquatic Center is just a half-hour from downtown. That’s close enough to go after work on a hot summer day for a long, slow paddle on the smooth waters of Lake Natoma. It costs just $9 per hour to rent a sit-on-top kayak, which comes with a paddle, a life vest and help getting in and out of your boat from some friendly dock masters. You don’t have to be a student or even an experienced kayaker. Kayaks scare you? Rent one of the bicycle-like contraptions that allow you to pedal your way across the lake. 1901 Hazel Avenue in Gold River, (916) 278-2842, www.sacstateaquaticcenter.com.
Best place to work out for two
So, you’re pregnant. Are you going to take this lying down? You’ll want to move around while you still can (once you’re out of that nauseating first trimester, anyway). At a regular gym, you’re apt to endure curious stares and nosy questions. Not so at the Sutter PregnaGym, where the workouts, equipment and classes (including pre- and postnatal yoga) are tailored precisely to the pregnant. Memberships are $45 per month for unlimited workouts and yoga classes. You get an assessment (you’ll need the thumbs up from your doctor); personalized monitoring, including heart-rate checks; and support rather than stares from your fellow gym rats. You don’t have to be a Sutter patient, either. Best of all, once you’re in the habit, you can keep it up: Members can bring their new babies along (swings, bouncy seats and child care all are available). 701 Howe Avenue, Suite F-20; (916) 924-6667.
Best place for nighttime hide and seek
WPA Rock Garden in William Land Park
Study this simple-seeming garden in the day, because at night, it turns into an all-out jungle maze. Start at the stone arbor (home base) and call, “Not it!” Quick, ditch the seeker by winding along dirt paths and dry irrigation streams. Hiders hold the advantage here, as long as they’re brave enough to lie still among the dense mishmash of succulents, tropicals, pines and spider webs, listening to darkness with its quivering breath. 4000 South Land Park Drive, (916) 808-5200, www.cityofsacramento.org/parksandrecreation/parks/sites/land_map.htm.
Best place to cool off for a buck
Glen Hall Pool
Quite possibly Sacramento’s best-kept secret, the Glen Hall Pool in River Park offers a fantastic way to stay cool without driving to a water park and paying $30. The prices range from 25 cents to $1 (depending on your age), and upon arrival guests are greeted by good-natured staff, a waterslide and a diving board. This family-friendly pool is clean, safe and rarely crowded. Open 1-5 p.m. on weekdays and 1-7 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays. 5201 Carlson Drive, (916) 277-6071.
It’s All Yoga
2106 11th Avenue, (916) 444-8488, www.itsallyoga.com.Dear It’s All Yoga,
I used to have a commitment problem. I tried different yoga studios, but I just couldn’t settle down. And then I found you, and everything changed. You see, when I moved to Sacramento, I was getting over a relationship with my last yoga studio, in San Francisco. I tried to keep the spark alive, but the long-distance thing wasn’t working. And the studios here … well, a lot of the classes seemed a bit too easy, or not deep enough. And call me shallow, but I just wasn’t attracted to boxy suburban spaces. You, though, you’re different: The studio is appealing without being flashy. You exude a calm, welcoming air, and your classes reflect many moods and styles. This is a relationship I can really stick with. I get the same feeling from the studio that studio owner Michelle Marlahan said she got from discovering yoga: “I wanted to know everything about it, and the more I learned that it was really a lifestyle, and not just an exercise, it felt like home to me. It made sense. It wasn’t dogmatic—it really feels right.” That’s exactly the sense that you convey, It’s All Yoga, and I’m so glad I found you.
Best place to watch the World Cup
The Streets of London Pub in Midtown
Plenty of Sacramento bars hosted World Cup spectators, but none with as much enthusiasm as The Streets of London. From the first day of play, the bar was open at 6 a.m., offering breakfast and beer specials. A large TV screen was installed in front of the fireplace, and Xeroxed game schedules graced every table. As the matches grew in intensity, so did the bar’s atmosphere. A fistfight even broke out during the Argentina vs. Ivory Coast match—a local dose of soccer hooliganism. By the final game, the crowd was packed in shoulder to shoulder, and roars of “Goal!” could be heard around the block. 1804 J Street, (916) 498-1388, www.streetsoflondon.net.
Best time for a contemplative walk through Midtown
Sunday, 11 p.m.
The sun is down, the heat has abated to a reasonable degree, and crossing signals have become nearly superfluous. No enormous baby strollers or people walking four abreast, no cyclists on the sidewalk and no runners telling you where to walk ("On your right!"). Just you, the occasional fellow pedestrian, and the cats. The many, many cats. Peace and quiet may be two of the most overused words in the English vocabulary, but it has to be because they are worth so very much.
Best little-known tourist attraction within 100 miles
Calaveras Big Trees State Park
If we got a nickel every time someone said that the best thing about Sacramento is its proximity to San Francisco, Lake Tahoe and the Napa Valley, we’d never have to pay the Bay Bridge toll out of our own pockets again. But we also like to venture outside the Interstate 80/Highway 50 box. The best option is the blissfully uncrowded Calaveras Big Trees State Park, a 6,500-acre forest on the Western slope of the Sierra Nevada containing more than 1,000 giant sequoias—the largest living things on Earth. Along the North Grove’s easy 1.5-mile interpretive trail, you can walk through the hollow trunk of a fallen tree and gape at the “Big Stump,” the remains of a 300-foot-tall, 1,244-year-old tree felled by speculators in 1853. The larger, more remote South Grove features longer trails and contains the park’s largest tress. Calaveras Big Trees is great salve for petty rifts with out-of-town guests, too. It’s hard to hold a grudge against your visiting sister while in the presence of 250-foot-tall trees that predate the Roman Empire. And you don’t even have to pay a toll to get there. Four miles northeast of Arnold on Highway 4, (209) 795-2334.
Best light-rail daytrip
The Gold Line to Sutter Street
Buy a $1.75 ticket and hop on the Gold Line to historic Folsom’s last stop, Sutter Street. Cross the street to the Lake Natoma Crossing and take the stairs to the American River. Pick a trail and start walking. After five minutes of skipping stones, wading in the river and nibbling on the blackberries that thrive on its banks, you’ll barely remember the heat of the city. Later, you can wander into town for pizza at Chicago Fire (614 Sutter Street) or fajitas on the deck at Hacienda Del Rio Restaurant (702 Sutter Street). On your way back to the light-rail station, grab some house-made peanut brittle from Snooks Chocolate Factory (731 Sutter Street) for the folks back home. www.sacrt.com.
Best makeshift dance floor
You discover your rented bowling shoes glide magically over the slick floor in front of the bowling lanes. Just then, the jukebox emits the opening parallel-horn blasts of James Brown’s “Get up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine.” Suddenly, your feet are sliding in a spastic rhythm, as if the Godfather of Soul has possessed yours. You try to hit it and quit, but the other bowlers throw a cape over your shoulders and lead you back to the lanes. OK, maybe it was a cocktail napkin they threw, and maybe they were just telling you it was your turn to bowl, but you can’t stop now. Not until the jukebox switches to Journey. 900 West Capitol Avenue, (916) 371-4200, www.capitolbowl4fun.com.
Best chance to roller-skate if you’re over 14
Sac City Rollers fund-raisers
Thank you, Sac City Rollers, for reclaiming roller-skating for adults. Some of us still love to boogie on wheels, but at normal skating sessions, we feel like we’re chaperoning a junior-high dance. But when Sacramento’s own roller-derby squad takes over a rink for a fund-raiser, as it did several times at Foothill Skate Inn this year, the grown-ups come out to play. The DJ abandons nu metal for retro hits. The Rollers show up in their cutest dresses, miniskirts, fishnets and knee socks. And anyone who’s over 5 feet tall (in wheels) can skate without fear of rolling over a toddler. You can get to heaven on roller skates. www.saccityrollers.com.
Best place to run into Arnold
Capital Athletic Club
“I’ll be back,” Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said, and then he stepped out of our lives for … what seemed like forever. The time was this past summer; the place was the Capital Athletic Club, where real people like us get to rub elbows and snap towels with the state’s political movers and shakers, including the guvernator himself, until his untimely departure several months ago. To be honest, while we did miss picking up weight-training tips from the six-time Mr. Olympia, hot-tubbing with his 12-man security detail was more than a little bit cramped. “Hasta la vista, big man,” we said. “Don’t let the door hit you in your magnificently striated buttocks.” We tried not to take it personally when we heard he was working out at the more proletarian 24 Hour Fitness downtown. Months went by, and then one day, there he was again, on the lateral raise machine, massive back spread out like a manta ray. We always knew he’d be back. That’s why we never left. 1515 Eighth Street, (916) 442-3927, www.capitalac.com.
Best way to sweat your prayers
Stacey Dreizler retired from a successful physical-therapy career after falling in love with the five musical rhythms that constitute ecstatic dance. After seeing profound changes in her own body, mind and spirit, she opened Body Joy and began creating spaces to deejay inspiring music for people engaged in free-form dance while sweating their prayers. This is a movement studio that literally moves—at two locations. It’s at Deep, a Midtown yoga studio, on Tuesdays from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. and at McKinley Park’s Clunie Clubhouse on Thursday nights from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Dreizler recently started second-Sunday dances at the Clunie Clubhouse that take place from 10 a.m. to noon, which is perfect because ecstatic dance is truly a religious experience. Deep at 2030 H Street and the Clunie Clubhouse at 601 Alhambra Boulevard, (916) 267-5478, www.bodyjoy.net.
Best antidote to a mid-life crisisNor-Cal Bike Sales
While shows like Discovery Channel’s Monster Garage have vaulted custom motorcycle construction out of greasy garages and into mainstream pop culture, Clark Hopper was doing the same thing in his Citrus Heights shop long before it was cable-TV cool. Starting with a bare frame, Hopper and his crew at Nor-Cal Bike Sales, a.k.a. Nor-Cal Choppers, build outrageous bikes to order. They also sell high-end ready-made niche bikes, along with parts, accessories and clothing. All the rides on the showroom floor make Peter Fonda’s original Easy Rider hog look like a child’s rusty tricycle. But expect to refinance your house if you want the best of the best: A super-premium custom-built chopper will set you back more than $50,000. 8201 Auburn Boulevard in Citrus Heights, (916) 723-7433, www.chopper9.com.