When Your Hometown Becomes a Destination


Before Sactown was the Farm to Fork Capitol we were (and still are) the City of Trees. The trees lend elegance to our neighborhoods and lower the temperatures by at least 10 degrees.

I’ve lived in Sacramento most of my life. For the first 25 years everyone was content with being the Capitol and a rapidly growing suburban county. As Sacramento-native Joan Didion called it, people had a more mid-western sensibility about their wealth and well-being. Our problems were hidden. The community was segregated with waves of white flight out of South Sacramento to the burgeoning suburbs.

Our claim to fame was that we were “close to everything.” It was a great place to stop if you were on your way to Tahoe, or Napa, or San Francisco or Yosemite. Sacramento is at the confluence of two great rivers–the Sacramento and American–and a gateway to the Delta, but it’s attraction for the longest time was it was at the confluence of two great highways–Interstate Highways 5 and 80.

People in the community liked that it was a less expensive, quieter place to raise children. People would complain about “the traffic” that wouldn’t register on the Los Angeles traffic meter. We also don’t have to worry about earthquakes and our floods appear to be managed for now.


Local artists Suzanne Adan and Michael Stevens created Kit & Kaboodle, an exhibit for kids at the Crocker Art Museum. The Crocker is very kid friendly, and has a great cafe for adults.

The developers who ran local politics began to beat the drum for putting Sacramento on the map and making it a world class city. In the mid-eighties they had a lot of new houses to sell in Natomas, so land speculators and builders began the dubious proposition of making Sacramento famous by bringing a professional sports team to town. The Kansas City Kings basketball team arrived in 1985 to great fanfare and a new stadium in Natomas. It did raise Sacramento’s profile but it also gave other cities opportunity to mock us for being a Cowtown.

Periodically ever since, someone–a mayor or other city booster–declares Sacramento a destination. Self-declaration doesn’t count. In the travel world you have to be anointed a destination by the Conde Nast magazines. Or the New York Times travel editor. Preferably both.

At last, thanks in large part to the spotlight that Sacramento-native Greta Gerwig shone on our fair city, Sacramento is getting the attention that some would say is long overdue. The New York Times just released “36 Hours in Sacramento“!  It is so weird to read about the places you eat or shop regularly as destinations. Lovely too.

Once in my first professional job after grad school, the National Geographic hired our little think tank at UC Davis to review an article they were doing on the Great Central Valley. We looked at their map and shook our heads. They had Gilroy on the west side of the Valley. There were other errors as well and they didn’t correct all of the mistakes we identified for them. It made me skeptically at National Geographic maps ever since.

I love the 36 Hours series, but now having read the writer’s suggestions that would have you crisscrossing all over Sactown, I am going to refer to the 36 Hour recommendations but take the schedules with a grain of salt.  Thanks for the shout outs for local favorite restaurants and shopping destinations. We have always had a vibrant arts community and now more people are taking notice.

Sacramento has also been in the news lately because of the police shooting of an unarmed black man. Stephon Clark’s death has tested our community and revealed some problems many would rather ignore. Hopefully we will all learn from and begin to reform the inequities so we can truly achieve “great” status.



Bike Party! Sacramento

I tried out the monthly ride with Bike Party Sacramento tonight. While I did not last the distance–we were riding so close to my house and it was already 10 p.m.–I peeled out early. I did enjoy riding through the Sacramento streets at night. We created a parade of lights. The theme was Good Vibrations Beach Party and most people dressed the part.


The ride is well organized and includes a trash trailer so you won’t be tempted to litter.

It was 104 degrees this afternoon so while we met up at Suzie’s Burgers on P Street at 7:00 p.m., we did not leave until almost 8:30 p.m. Lots of people bought the $2 beer and enjoyed burgers before heading out en masse.

There was over 200 people at the start and we seemed to grow as we rode. The rules are fairly simple: stop for red lights, no littering, and have fun. The organizers bring trash cans and provide extra traffic guidance for larger intersections.There is a tremendous diversity in bicycles and riders. There are low riders with boom boxes, few fancy road bikes, mostly colorful cruisers; there are tandems and at least one bike with fat tires.

20160603_213454We rode for 1.5 hours before the first stop at Sutter’s Landing Regional Park. A DJ played music and some people danced. Most people gathered in small groups and chatted, catching their breath before taking off for the next stop. The plan was to ride 15 miles total. There was at least one more stop before returning to Suzie’s.

Bike Party Sacramento ride the first Friday of every month. They have a page on Facebook to announce the starting point of the next ride. If you do join the fun be ready to shout “Bike party!” every so often as it will increase your overall enjoyment.

There is also a Davis Bike Party that rides every 4th Friday. People I met at Suzie’s said there is a Bike Party San Jose that attracts 2,000 cyclists!

Amgen Tour of California Returns to Delta

Tour of California is one of the best professional road races in the USA. It is a competition for both men and women and is attracting world class teams.


Peter Sagan won the World Championship Road Race since winning Tour of California 2015. Will he be back to defend his title?

This year the race will start in Southern California and then conclude in Northern California. Stage 5 will start in Lodi. The final stage (8) will be in Sacramento.


“May 19, 2016 – Men’s Stage 5

Stage 5 will usher riders from the beautiful vineyards of Lodi to a long gradual ascent to an uphill finish in South Lake Tahoe, reaching a peak elevation of 8,600 feet – the highest in race history. The ride, essentially a 130-mile climb that gains in elevation from 50 feet to 6,650 at the finish, will showcase California’s diversity, from the rich soil of the Central Valley to the mighty peaks of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.”

The VIP hours for the start are 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. If you want to view from the street downtown–plan for breakfast and watching the controlled start. They will be out of town after a few minutes. You can sometimes see your favorite riders and get autographs outside their team bus.

“May 22, 2016 – Men’s Stage 8

The capital city of California has hosted the Amgen Tour of California Overall Start for the past two years as well as individual stage finishes; 2016 will bring its first Overall Finish. This sports-crazed city is thriving with a new stadium under construction and several national sporting events taking place throughout the year.

The course will travel along the Sacramento River and cross Tower Bridge twice before returning downtown where fans will anxiously wait along the traditional finish circuits around the Capitol building.

Last year was the closest men’s race finish ever with general classification champion Peter Sagan winning by a mere 3 seconds after earning an intermediate sprint time bonus and bonus seconds on the final stage sprint. What excitement will this year’s final race day hold?”

“May 22, 2016 – Women’s Stage 4

The overall champion will be decided after 20 laps of a downtown Sacramento circuit on wide, fast roads. Fans can expect shakeups until the very end — last year, Sacramento saw a thrilling women’s finish when Trixi Worrack’s (GER) general classification win came down to sprint time bonuses and the final sprint for the stage.”

The festival is usually staged on 10th Street in front of the Capitol. The streets around the capitol will be blocked off most of the day. Ride your bike downtown and enjoy a fun Sunday outing. Watch the women’s circuit race and then watch the final laps of the men’s race. Final prize presentations follow shortly after each finish.

I am hoping Peter Sagan returns to defend his title. He is one of the most exciting professional riders in the world. Watch as he avoids a crash on the cobbles at Paris-Roubaix 2016. He’s the cyclist in white on the right who also avoided a spectator on the grass! Mad bike skills.


3 Reasons for Rail Trails in the California Delta

Let's repurpose rail infrastructure in the California Delta to provide recreation for all.

Let’s repurpose rail infrastructure in the California Delta to provide recreation for all.

Download the free PDF “A Cycling Adventure: Central Otago Rail Trail with Delta Feature” from http://www.onyourradarmediaco.com or from the side bar on this blog.

1. Rail trails are a cool way to repurpose retired rail lines or to repurpose ample easements associated with railroads. We as the public have already paid for the right of way. These rail lines are never very steep. They are popular for walking and cycling and great for people of all ages and fitness levels.

2. Rail trails can be engines for economic development. With AirBnB, it is easy to develop lodging in a region. Plus there are a large number of duck clubs who could offer places to stay for cyclists, as they did in Colusa County when the number of bird watchers started descending in late winter/early spring.

3. Rail trails provide a safe dedicated route for walkers and bikers to enjoy the Delta without crowding the existing two lane roads. Some residents of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, also known as the California Delta, complain about cyclists on the River Road. This will provide cyclists and walkers a place to safely enjoy these activities.

Download the free PDF and be sure to check out page 12.

Scavenger Hunt Game Card a Fun Way to Explore Midtown Sacramento

This bike rack is not part of the scavenger hunt.

This bike rack is not part of the scavenger hunt.

There is a new, fun activity your group or family can play in Midtown Sacramento. Download and print the game card–one per team–and then set a time for your group to start the game.

If your teams are on foot, then you might want to provide 3-4 hours to find the bike racks. If your teams are on bicycles, then you can set the time limit between 1-2 hours. Each team uses one smart phone to collect photographs with team members next to all 12 bike racks.

Reconvene at one of the many restaurants, coffee places or pubs in Midtown and tally the number of bike racks found by each team. If you need a tiebreaker, there are multiple bike racks at #4, #6, and #7 and teams can earn extra points for each of the extra racks.

Post your photos on social media with the hashtag #SacBikeRackHunt.

Clues: The bike racks created by artist Gina Rossi often relate to the type of business where it is placed.

1.  What type of professional sells homes?

2. This rack is the furthest to the East.

3. This clever rack is a needle and thread.

4. Think drinks.

5. This rack is made of retired railroad parts near a retired railway.

6. These identical racks are at least a block apart.

7. These bike racks line the sidewalk of this block chock full of restaurants.

8. Think Bianchi bicycles, think Italian.

9. This Asian dragon guards a sushi place.

10. I cannot figure out what this hammer has to do with anything except it is cool.

11. Whisk up some ice cream sandwiches.

12. Celebrate the Day of the Dead with some south of the border food.

Midtown Artist Creates Bike Rack Buzz

Gina Rossi is a midtown Sacramento artists who works with metal and glass, especially found objects. She created the first bike rack for the 21 10 Gallery on Del Paso Boulevard. Fast forward to 2015 and Gina’s bike racks are so popular that no self respecting restaurateur will open without an iconic bike rack to help put them on the map. It is the perfect way to celebrate cycling and public art.

Gina working on a metal sculpture in her studio.

Gina working on a metal sculpture in her studio.

Gina works in her welding shop and studio on 20th Street. She also works part time as a nurse at Kaiser Permanente. Her passion is creating sculptures including the functional bike racks around Sacramento.

Gina is iron woman in her metal workshop.

Gina is iron woman in her metal workshop.

She also teaches welding from her studio. Contact Gina Rossi for more information about sculptures or classes.

Gina Rossi's studio

Coming soon: a Scavenger Hunt game card to find 12 Midtown bike racks.

AMGEN Tour of California Races in the Delta

The announced 2015 route of AMGEN Tour of California includes the Delta, and on the very first day–Stage One, Sunday May 10. The bike racers will depart from Sacramento, ride 124 miles along the Sacramento River to Rio Vista and back for a likely sprint finish in Sacramento.

AMGEN Tour of California

Sir Bradley Wiggins of Team Sky won the time trial in Folsom in 2014

The State Capitol will once again provide a dramatic backdrop to the race. Adding the route through the Delta will add some visual excitement and a good excuse to visit your favorite Delta community with a picnic and a bottle of wine and watch the peloton.

Waiting for the peloton on City of Sacramento curb.

Waiting for the peloton on City of Sacramento curb.

Stage Two on May 11 starts in Nevada City and ends in Lodi, California. Lodi is on the edge of the Delta and offers plenty of wine tasting and a celebratory finish. The song lyrics “stuck in Lodi” will not be running through these cyclists minds as they will be once again sprinting for the finish.