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Sara Sundquist, a new mom with an 8-month-old daughter, still manages to ride to work — and plenty of other destinations — from her Redding home. Sundquist kept this bicycling journal for A News Cafe as part of its “Taken By Two Wheels” project.
Sunday, June 26 and Monday, June 27
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Destination: Shasta County Public Health building on Breslauer Way to home on Shasta Street.
Route: Breslauer, across Highway 273, to Westside Road to Railroad Avenue to Court Street to Placer to West Street, winding through the neighborhood to Shasta Street. Approximately 3.5 miles.
This morning was pouring down rain. A real bummer, as I was all geared up to ride from my daughter’s daycare to work. My riding-to-work rule is that I typically don’t ride to work if it’s already raining when I want to leave home, but if it’s cloudy or predicted to rain throughout the day, I’ll chance it and ride. My husband has the week off and suggested he take Emma to daycare and drive me to work (and shuttle my bike on the car) on his way to do errands. Brilliant!
All day I could see from my office window was that it was wet, wet, wet. But when I left at 4 p.m., the sidewalks were dry and I had a beautiful ride home. What a treat to ride in 65 degrees at the end of June in Redding!
The route I took home today is not my favorite, but it is the fastest, which I chose because I was excited to see my baby girl. One of the most challenging parts of the route is the signal at Breslauer and 273. The signal will not detect bikes heading westbound across the intersection. Luckily, today a vehicle was in the left-hand lane to trip the signal. Because I’m off work at 4 p.m. and most county workers aren’t off until 5 p.m., often there isn’t enough traffic in the left-hand lane to trip the signal, which means I have to head north on 273 and turn at the signal on Buenaventura. It makes me nervous to go out on the highway, cross two fast traffic lanes to get into the new double left turn lanes, then finagle my way into the correct lane to head west on Buenaventura, which has no bike lanes until after the Railroad Avenue intersection. But today I got lucky and got to cross 273 to Westside Road.
As I waited in the traffic lane for the signal to change at the Westside/Buenaventura/Railroad intersection (no bike lane was constructed at this brand new intersection), I noticed they had changed the signal pattern. I saw a friend pass by and wave from her Toyota Matrix. That’s one thing I enjoy about riding – the interaction with others as I ride. People I know notice me on my bike and wave, or visit with me from their car window while at a stoplight.
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Destination: Home to work (3.5 miles); work to Holiday Market (3 miles); Holiday Market to home (1 mile); home to yoga studio (.75 miles); yoga studio to Safeway (.5 miles), Safeway to home (1.5 miles).
One of the things I love to do is see how many places I can link together when I ride. It’s so much more efficient than getting in and out of a hot car in the Redding summer. Plus, I usually get to park closest to the door. All the places I rode to today have bike racks near the front entrance – a real bonus.
Thursday, June 30, 2011
Destination: Home to work; work to home; home to yoga studio; yoga studio to credit union; credit union to home.
I was treated to another great day of mild summer weather. While riding into work, several folks smiled and waved. I don’t know them, but I think they recognize me riding to work nearly every day for the past 12 years. I rode the Blue Gravel Trail (the trail that parallels Buenaventura Boulevard) from work to home. The trail is quiet and pretty. I noticed a ton of blackberry bushes that are ready to burst with ripe berries in the next few weeks. I’ll have to bring a container so I can stop and pick on my ride home.
I was wondering how I’d be able to ride being a new mom. I’ve been surprised by how much I’ve been able to work it into my day. Whenever I do an errand alone (and my husband is home with Emma), I try to take my bike. Last week, I started riding from my daughter’s daycare. Not only do I enjoy the ride, I don’t feel like I need to go to the gym after work and leave her in childcare for yet another hour. Plus it only takes me about 15 minutes longer to ride to her daycare than to drive, so it’s a super efficient use of my time – and fuel! Instead of driving 12 miles to drop her off and ride to work, I’m driving 4 miles. When she’s old enough (she’s 6 months) I’ll be able to put her into a trailer and ride right from home! I’m lucky that I found daycare close to home and work, and that I’ll be able to stay on neighborhood streets with her.
Friday, July 1, and Saturday, July 2
No ride. Busy packing and moving.
Sunday, July 3, 2011
Destination: New house to old house – 2.4 miles.
We moved from our home that we’ve had for more than eight years just west of downtown. The neighborhood offers easy walking and biking to so many different places. However, the house was small and with our new arrival, we felt like we needed a bit more space. We moved one mile west, just off Buenaventura Boulevard. I’ll be able to continue riding to work from Emma’s daycare.
Today, I rode from the new house to our old house. I picked up my saddlebags and loaded them up with random stuff we had left behind – a few pairs of shoes, some clothes and kitchen canisters and food. I’ve always been amazed by how much those bags hold. I’ve even fit my crock pot in one of those bags on numerous occasions for potlucks at work. When I go grocery shopping, they hold a gallon of milk plus my other groceries.
On my way home I took a route I had never taken, through the alleys between North Street and Eureka Way heading west. I think I found a shortcut.
Monday, July 4, 2011
Destination: New house to old house.
I was planning to go to Whiskeytown with my family today but realized I left my suit, swim cap and goggles at the old house. So I made a quick trip over on my bike to get them. I wish there was a safe way to ride my road bike to Whiskeytown. I have ridden there before, but the heavy holiday traffic and narrow shoulder along Highway 299 on the approach to the Visitor Center make for a scary ride!
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
Destination: Emma’s daycare to work; work to daycare – about eight miles, round trip.
I prepared everything I needed the night before to ride to work from Emma’s daycare, which included putting my bike on the bike rack, putting my helmet and panniers with a change of clothes, shoes, and lunch in the car. (Editor’s note: According to Wiki, “… a pannier /pænir/ is a basket, bag, box, or similar container, carried in pairs either slung over the back of a beast of burden, or attached to the sides of a bicycle or motorcycle. The term derives from the Old French, from Classical Latin, word for bread basket.” Sorry for the interruption. Let us return to Sara’s journal.)
I strategically parked the car where I knew I’d have shade at the end of the day because of the 105-degree day that was predicted. The ride into work has a few rollers through Mary Lake then has a great downhill on Buenaventura right into work. Makes for a less sweaty ride in the morning! On my way home, I have to come up that hill, but pedaling the Blue Gravel Trail, you do get a little relief with some rollers.
Thursday, July 7, 2011
Destination: Emma’s daycare to work; work to daycare – approximately 8 miles.
I rode the same route as yesterday. Riding home is a great way to decompress and end the work day. It was only about 98 degrees today, which was a nice break from yesterday’s blistering 100s. A good way to keep cool on my ride home is to wet down my jersey. It dries in about 10 minutes, but is a good way to start the ride. I’m still eying those soon-to-be-ripe blackberries along the trail!
Friday, July 8, 2011
Saturday, July 9, 2011
Destination: House to Orchard Nutrition to farmers’ market to home – about 6 miles.
Once again, I attached my panniers to my bike so I could purchase food. I put a Chico bag in my pannier so it’s easy to shop at the farmers’ market and then transfer the goods from the Chico bag into my panniers. I didn’t buy enough to fill both panniers today, but it’s good to be prepared with lots of room to put extra stuff if needed. Many times when I go to the grocery store, the checkers are cautious about over-stuffing my panniers and try to give me extra bags for my groceries. When I’m on my bike it all has to fit into the panniers so I don’t have to ride with bags hanging off the handlebars. I have a nifty little cargo net that I keep in one pannier that attaches to the rack on the back of my bike (my panniers also attach to this rack). The cargo net comes in handy when I get something oversized, like a box of cereal, or if I need to take a package to the post office. Who says you can’t ride your bike to the grocery store and buy groceries? I’ve heard this excuse many times. It’s all about having the space to store goods on the bike, whether it be panniers, trailer, backpack, or a box on the back of your bike.
The ride to the farmers’ market is enjoyable, going through the Magnolia neighborhood west of downtown, the Garden Tract, and skirting the outside of the Parkview neighborhood past the library. There are nice bike racks on the west side of City Hall. Another bike commuter was parked there to shop as well. He had a box attached to the back of his bike to carry food. The ride home is almost all uphill, which adds an even greater challenge with full panniers. It’s worth the workout and I always feel good about riding my bike to the farmers’ market. In a few months we’ll be able to do family trips to the market. We’re shopping for the right set-up to carry Emma. It’s looking like a Burley trailer or the Chariot bike trailer that also converts to a stroller and a contraption for skiing/snowshoeing!
Sara Sundquist is a health educator at the Health and Human Service Agency, Public Health and coordinates the Safe Routes to School Program. She also teaches yoga at Nancy Sutton’s House of Yoga. She moved to Redding 12 years ago and enjoys exploring the great outdoors of northern California with her husband, Jeff. They are the proud parents of their 8-month-old daughter, Emma, who just got a bike trailer for her journeys around town. Sara is a regular bike commuter and has worked on several bicycle related activities in the county, including Bike to Work Week, Redding’s Bike Plan, and Shasta Living Streets.
A News Cafe, founded in Shasta County by Redding, CA journalist Doni Greenberg, is the place for people craving local Northern California news, commentary, food, arts and entertainment. Views and opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of anewscafe.com.