Something that most people in my hometown of Lexington, Kentucky, have never experienced. While Lexington is trying diligently, unless you live downtown or on campus, your bike spends more time hanging upside down in the garage than between your legs.
Unfortunately, the bike lanes in my neighborhood are simply a white stripe painted down the side of the actual road, which was made no wider than before. So even though there are nice little white bicycles painted on your side of the asphalt, you still get the same soccer moms talking on their phones and hanging one giant, life-crushing SUV tire over the line.
While Alan and Lyndsey hit their conference, I wandered out of the hotel in search of a Monster drink (Caffeine, Taurine, Guarana, and B vitamins — everything a twitchy vagabond needs). On my way back, I saw a mysterious path going down under an overpass. What I had stumbled on was a huge network of bike trails which passed all over the little town of Roseville, California — a suburb just outside of Sacramento.
Not sure where I was going or if I had any chance of finding the hotel again, I left my bag at the front desk and went to explore. I walked along a creek which was labeled as a “Salmon spawning habitat” for miles. The brackish water smelled so bad I don’t know how a fish could live let alone get turned on, but hey — at least they were trying. I had walked for nearly two hours when I came to a sign that read “Downtown Roseville – 2.5 mi.”
Excellent! Wandering aimlessly is great, but sometimes it feels even better to have an objective at the end of a hike, rather than having to backtrack. Plus, I wasn’t digging the sewer assault on my nose and had not eaten lunch yet.
I could picture a quaint little downtown filled with local people and places to eat without trademarks and McMystery ingredients. I had probably already walked around two miles but took my time to divert onto side trails and into parks that had sculptures and other things to see. Although it was Sunday, I barely passed anyone and from the sounds of the traffic on the road above, people were opting to drive rather than pedal.
Knowing that we would be linking up to move into Sacramento in a few hours, I walked along at the quickstep in my flip-flops. Unlike my well-worn Asian sandals, these are new and gave me a couple of complimentary blisters to help me remember Roseville. I counted my pace (each time your left foot hits the ground) a trick I learned in the Army, and give or take — came up with 2.5 miles.
At the top of a hill, the bike trail abruptly ended into a busy, six-lane highway. There were no cafes, no signs, no delis…just a busy road. When I asked a man living out of his shopping cart for directions he pointed down the road and told me that downtown was just two miles that way.
Crap. I had around 5+ miles on my sore feet already and was standing in the middle of nowhere, California. Fueled mostly by monster, I ignored the swelling blisters and power-walked the two miles into “town” which turned out to be nothing but a string of closed shops, muffler stores, a cabinet maker, and a plumber — everything a traveler needs, and certainly worth walking seven miles for.
To give Roseville credit, I never made it to the Old Town before I was collected by Alan. Like the multitude of “Old Towns” I’ve seen in the last two months, I’m sure it would have offered some tourist goodies beyond places to get your oil changed.
Also, just next door to Roseville is the town of Folsom, home of Johnny Cash’s favorite prison. It was only about 15 miles away, but there was no time to figure out public transportation or thumb my way there to check it out. Time and money…it seems like both are always against me in these places.
I wasn’t too sad about leaving Roseville behind, we were headed into downtown Sacramento for our final California blow-out…life is good!