Summer is the season around here for long bike rides, although one cyclist’s definition of a long ride might be another’s definition of insanity.
If by long you mean loooooonnng, you may be happy to learn that Adventure Cycling Association has included Highway 89 from Mount Shasta to Truckee on a new, 2,400-mile Sierra Cascades Bicycle Route that roughly parallels the Pacific Crest hiking trail from Canada to Mexico.
But even if your idea of a long ride is a few hours of leisurely pedaling through a scenic region, the reasons for the Adventure Cycling designation are worth noting. In fact, much of Highway 89 is very bicycle friendly. Most of the roadway is lightly traveled by motor vehicles and offers long stretches with four-foot and even eight-foot shoulders. It’s perfect for a weekend of riding, or for a day trip from Redding or Chico. Several century bike rides, including the Mile High 100, the Fall River Century and the Tahoe Sierra Century incorporate Highway 89 in their courses.
In addition to providing organized rides, the Adventure Cycling Association offers maps and guidance for 22 long-distance routes. Tamy Quigley, a transportation planner in Caltrans’ Redding office, worked with the group on finding a link between a route to the north in the Cascade Mountains, and a route to the south through the Sierra.
“They had thought that (Highway) 89 was not a pleasant route because of the high volume of trucks,” Quigley said. She worked with the association on reaching out to logging and trucking companies that rely on 89, and on providing education to cyclists about areas where truck traffic is heaviest.
“We’re advising touring cyclists traveling on this section of the Sierra Cascades Bicycle Route to expect this type of traffic and to yield when possible,” said Jenn Milyko, an Adventure Cycling cartographer. “We’ve also asked several area logging companies to help spread the word among their drivers to expect cyclists on the road, and to pass them in a safe and considerate manner.”
Chris Chase, timberlands manager at Timber Products Company, said, “We’re happy to get the word out and encourage respect. Tourism is another important part of our local economy and we definitely want to support it by doing our part to make our local roadways safe for all travelers.”
Indeed, increased bicycle tourism is a likely upshot of the designated Sierra Cascades route, as serious riders form a tight network that exchanges a great deal of information about the best routes and destinations. People who strap their equipment to a bicycle and spend most nights camping may not be the biggest spenders, but Adventure Cycling points to a study that found overnight cyclists spend about $100 per day as they travel.
There are many great sights along 89 for tourists, whether they are pedaling or driving – Mt. Shasta, McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park, Lassen Volcanic National Park, Lake Almanor, extensive national forest, agricultural areas. Camping opportunities are plentiful. Small towns such as Mount Shasta, Chester, Quincy and Graeagle offer services including, importantly, bike shops with parts and mechanics.
Caltrans has made a number of Highway 89 improvements during recent years that have resulted in broader shoulders for cyclists, according to Quigley. Although she does not have statistics for riders, she knows anecdotally that cycling on the highway has increased significantly, especially in the Lake Almanor area.
“That whole corridor is a very popular touring route,” Quigley said.
Although the State Route 89 section of the Sierra Cascades route became “official” only this month, Adventure Cycling reports having already sold 750 copies of its detailed Mount Shasta-to-Truckee maps during the past year. Learn more on the Adventure Cycling website.
On today’s A La Carte menu:
Speaking of Caltrans … The nighttime closures of Highway 44 at Interstate 5 are done for now. The contractor finished work on the I-5 bridge ahead of schedule. However, Caltrans warns us that there will be more nighttime closures, as well as lane and ramp closures, before the project is complete next year.
Action heroes wanted … Know someone who makes healthy eating easier or who encourages physical activity? Healthy Shasta wants to hear about him or her. Healthy Shasta is seeking nominations for its 2011 Action Hero awards given to youths, adults, groups, businesses and other entities. Nominees may be paid professionals or volunteers doing the right thing. Details and nomination forms are available on the Healthy Shasta website.
Tickets, tickets, get yer tickets … The deadline to get discounted “Flight Deck” seats for the Exchange Club of Redding’s Air Show is Sunday, July 31. The Flight Deck pavilion offers seating right up front, as well as drink and food catered by the Sons of Italy. Right now, tickets are $65 apiece, or 10 for $550. Come August 1, prices rise to $95 apiece or $700 for 10 tickets. In addition, general admission tickets, which cost $16 at the gate, are only $10 right now. Scheduled for September 24 and 25, the Air Show promises more jets than ever before, including the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds and F-16 Fighting Falcons. Click on the event website and claim your discounts.
Paul Shigley is a freelance journalist based in Western Shasta County, CA, and thinks 60 miles is long enough. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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