During the flooding we experienced earlier this year, my wife and I were driving back to Lincoln from Woodland, taking “the back way” from Highway 99.
Because it had rained the day before, we planned to take Riego/Baseline to Fiddyment, but (wouldn’t you know it) a semi had jack-knifed on the off ramp and it was closed.
On to Howsley /Sunset, notoriously flood-prone.
All was fine until we hit downtown Pleasant Grove, where it was bumper-deep in water and closed. A short back-track to Pleasant Grove Road to head north. We encountered a “puddle” that threatened our mid-sized sedan, but because I could see a fire truck up ahead in the darkness with its lights flashing, I figured we could make it. Someone would be on our side of the puddle if it was too deep for a Hyundai, right?
We made it.
I know the next road heading east is Catlett, which I know dead-ends on Fiddyment near the Waste Management Facility. I also know it is unpaved for much of the way. I know all this because I have ridden my bike out there.
So, while the Missus was sure we were lost, I knew where we were.
Not long before that, this time on Riego/Baseline, again in the dark, there had been an accident completely blocking the road, somewhere east of Watt Avenue. All traffic was detoured south on to Watt Avenue. Heading in the opposite direction of home, we were on our own.
Because I ride my bike to Old Sacramento now and then, I know these roads, too. A left on PFE and, not wanting to take a chance on where the accident was, on down to Cook Riolo, then up to Baseline. Eventually, my passenger will accept I know my way around out in the outback because of my bike.
When we first moved here, my wife would ask if I knew how to get somewhere. My answer was usually, “I know how to get there on my bike.” It took the better part of a year, riding my bike with my friends, before I felt comfortable about my location. After a while, I recognized roads but couldn’t quite picture where they went or what the next intersection was. I can still get Barton and Laird mixed up.
More than once, a motorist has stopped our group to ask directions, such as “How do I get from here to Lincoln Boulevard?” “Here” being the fire house on Wise. The easy explanation is “just stay on Wise Road until it hits Lincoln Boulevard.” If you know Wise Road, you know there are several turns that have to be made, just to stay on Wise Road. It’s not easy to explain.
In short, another good thing about getting out on your bike is that you can really get to know your home turf. You see animals, ponds, historical monuments – and street signs – you might never see from a car.
Get on your bike and ride. You might impress your passenger at the next detour.
Tom Frady is a Lincoln resident and avid cyclist and driver.