We all know the saying. "You never know what you got 'til it's gone". This can ring true when referring to a friend, a family member, or a significant other. For me it is indicative of the current flooding in and around the American River Trail and its effect on the Kinetic Gravel Ride routes. I think cyclists, myself included, in the greater Sacramento area take for granted just how awesome the American River Parkway is and how many different places it can take you. In regards to the gravel rides it's our central hub for getting to our 3 loops—West Sac, Rio Linda, and the Airport. As more and more rain falls, I feel the need to reminisce on rides past and the loops that made them possible.
All of the routes start and end at Kinetic and roll at 8am. The initial roll out is the same for all 3 routes but as we get closer to Discovery Park we begin to branch out.
My personal favorite and the longest of the loops checking in at about 45 miles is the West Sacramento loop. With an abundance of different terrain, the scenic views, and the "city tour" feel it exudes, this route is my favorite. After rolling to Discovery Park and through Old Sacramento we cross the Tower Bridge into West Sacramento. Once in West Sac, we encounter a nice singletrack alongside the river and some extended gravel action as we head towards the Davis Causeway. Others are chomping at the bit to get back to some dirt so we eventually meander our way back across Tower Bridge, through Old Sacramento and back onto the levies. If you're a rider that enjoys variety and don't mind a little road riding on your gravel bike then this is the route for you.
A slight decrease in miles but an increase in gravel is the roughly 40 mile Airport loop. The is the bosses favorite route! As the name suggests, this mostly gravel route is an out and back ending at I-5 just a stones throw from the Sac Airport. Similar to the West Sac loop we head down the levies and the bike trail towards Discovery Park. However, instead of heading towards Old Sacramento we roll towards Garden Highway and find some long gravel levies. So, if you have a fever and the only prescription is more gravel then this is your loop.
The final ride in KGR quiver is the Rio Linda loop. This is the shortest of the three loops, as it checks in at about 36 miles but has roughly as much gravel as the Airport loop. Just like the previous two routes, we start by heading towards Discovery Park via levies and the bike trail. We diverge, however, about three miles before reaching Discovery Park and start heading northeast towards Rio Linda. About 7 miles of uninterrupted gravel leads the ride to its turn-around point, the Elkhorn BMX park. Before heading back to the shop everyone's inner child shines through and we all take a few laps around the track catching some air and railing through some sweeping turns. One can count on a large dose of gravel and a bunch of fun at the BMX park when Rio Linda is on the docket.
Despite torrential downpour across Northern California the past couple of weeks, the KGR has rolled on as consistently as possible but sometimes the flooding along the American River and throughout Discovery Park got the best of us. While it's been awesome to explore some new terrain and ride what has previously been unridden, I can't help but be a bit nostalgic about the familiar loops. They say absence makes the heart grow fonder. I think I'd have to agree.