Friday, May 6, 2016

13: Racing the rain

The weather reports for this part of the world did not look good for the next couple of days, and we figured we were probably in for some rain. But, we have gear to ride in, and at least at the lower elevations, it wasn't going to be too chilly, so we determined to press on.

This valley is slated for development
Commuting past the valley
Our Warm Showers host Peter was a great escort through the bay communities and out as far as the Antioch Bridge.  Along the way, he pointed out that the pretty valley on our right was soon to be the site of 24,000 new houses.  I felt a pang of sorrow for the community that was about to lose this beautiful open space. I mean, I know folks have to live somewhere, but with the highway already looking like this,
one wonders how they will get to the city to work.  There are not many jobs left out in these communities.  We passed many factories that were closed up - for sale.  It's an issue.

We said goodbye to Peter and headed up the bridge.

Steep and sketchy climb
Looking back toward the bridge - highest point we attained all day!
The skies were dark and stormy off on either side, and just before we reached the top, Roger saw a flash of lightning.  Great! That bridge is the highest thing for miles around, and here we are right on the top of it.  In a few moments the thundered rumbled and growled all around us.  I have never heard thunder so close - it's like we were right up in the clouds where it lives.  I was very happy when we made it off the bridge.

We rolled along Hwy 160, which is on the levee of the Sacramento River. Some of the towns we passed were at 13 feet elevation. Surely they would flood were it not for the levee, and maybe even despite it. It was odd to look over and see the river on one side, with fields and farmhouses on the other.

Riding on the levee

Isleton would make a good movie set, maybe
The expected rain arrived just before our second breakfast.  But we were very near to our stop, and after that we managed to stay one step ahead (or behind) the storms. Isleton is not exactly a booming place, but it did have a good cafe for breakfast.

Scenes like this remind me of the Gulf Coast back in Texas
The rest of our day was pleasant, and fast. We mostly had tailwinds and we enjoyed riding through the fields and orchards of the delta.  We saw quite a few "Save the Delta, Stop the Tunnels" signs along the way. Clearly the prevailing sentiment up here is against sending more water down to Southern California.  I can understand. It's a beautiful place, and the water is a huge part of the life here.

We were looking for a place to take a little break, and happened upon a cantina just across the road from a lounge. We chose the cantina, and had a great Coke while chatting with the proprietor and one of his regular customers.  These two got together most days to have a drink and play Liar's Dice. They've probably been doing it for years. 

Not two miles further north, and we hit the southern suburbs of Sacramento, with the grocery stores, Starbucks and wide streets you'd expect. I wonder how long my amigos in the cantina will be able to hang on. 

The day's report: Concord to Sacramento, 81.5 miles/698 to date.

And I think I'd call it a draw, between us and the rain.

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