Jose Barajas

Biking to Winters

Seeing Sacramento from the saddle of my bike makes me feel more connected to the city. The people. The art. The nature. Sacramento is growing and I’m able to feel the pulse of everything I pass. We live at the center of some of California’s most awe-inspiring attractions: Tahoe, Yosemite, San Francisco, Big Sur, and Mt. Shasta; but as Sacramento’s offerings expand, my view of the world we live in begins to disappear.  By mid week I start to lose sight of what is all around us. Riding through this city and the surrounding region expands my view of what is really at our fingertips…EVERYTHING!

In the last five years, we’ve seen tremendous growth. The driving forces behind it all: athletics and the food and beverage industry. The restaurants and bars we dine in are becoming more connected to the earth around us, both on the plate and in the media. I don’t think you can live in Sacramento and not be aware of the farm to fork movement and just 30 miles away in Winters, it’s simply a way of life. At the source of many of the crops that our establishments buy, it has  the space to build compelling and interactive businesses and a clientele that understands and supports it, making Winters, a hidden gem in the Sacramento Valley.  2015-12-16-Winters Cycling-Jose-2The ride from Sacramento to Winters takes you through distinct places and eras of Sacramento. You’ll pass signs of the city’s development as you ride by Golden 1 Center, its initial urbanization as you pass through Old Sacramento, and back to its agrarian roots as you see cranes and other birds in the rice fields from the causeway.  Many cyclists meet in Old Sacramento for the abundance of parking and a more localized starting point for everyone to gather. Here you can make sure you have all that you’ll need for the day:

  • Layers for temperature regulation (pretty minimal most summer mornings)
  • Water
  • Basic Repair Kit (allen wrench, tire tube, hand pump, tire lever, patch kit)
  • Bike Lock
  • Protective Equipment (Helmet to Sunscreen)
  • Small Pack (how else are you going to bring enough beer back?)2015-12-16-Winters Cycling-Jose-6Your half-way point is Davis, and with the numerous cycle shops, it’s a good place to re-fill water bottles and re-charge.  Leaving Davis, the chaos of daily commutes, deadlines, and a high pace life start to fade away.  You’re met with expanding views of orchards, farmlands, and livestock; and as life slows from 65 mph to 17 mph, you become more at ease.  Our first stop in Winters is Berryessa Brewing Co. They’re open Thursday and Friday from 3pm to 8pm and Saturday and Sunday from 12pm to 6pm.  There’s plenty of space for food trucks (Cali LoveBuckhorn BBQ, ChickPeas), room to play corn hole, and watch live music (The Muddy Waders, Sourdough Slim, Magic In The Other). The brewery has a wide arsenal of flagship styles to cool you down from their Propaganda Pils to a Baltic Porter for something a little fuller. Their beers rotate with additional seasonal offerings.  If the roots of a Bier Garten are to bring a community together in a common area of leisure, Berryessa has achieved that in a very humble Californian way. 2015-12-16-Winters Cycling-Jose-112015-12-16-Winters Cycling-Jose-10 2015-12-16-Winters Cycling-Jose-24 2015-12-16-Winters Cycling-Jose-19 2015-12-16-Winters Cycling-Jose-27 2015-12-16-Winters Cycling-Jose-34Berryessa Brewing hits the spot for a hydration station but cravings for something more substantial will lead you to Preserve Public House.  You may or may not know that Winters has great food, beer, and wine, and is sometimes overlooked by Sacramento residents; but I bet you weren’t aware that they have an establishment like Preserve PH. It’s rustic, homey, and intensely inviting. Imagine your grandmother’s well-kept farmhouse. She’s about to serve dinner (yes, my grandmother actually does live in an old farmhouse). After a long ride, there is nowhere else you’d rather be. Their house specialty, preserves, captures the current and past bounty of the seasons.  Their house cocktails also use more than just fruit to highlight the region, showcasing citrus marmalade in The General and jalapeno jelly in their La Tienda. Light bites of preserves, charcuterie, antipasto salad, tacos and a couple more libations to wash it down is perfect fare for the ride back to Sacramento.2015-12-16-Winters Cycling-Jose-53 2015-12-16-Winters Cycling-Jose-41 2015-12-16-Winters Cycling-Jose-46 2015-12-16-Winters Cycling-Jose-49 2015-12-16-Winters Cycling-Jose-56 This makes for a wonderful and long (well worth it) day spent out in Winters including five hours of riding time for the complete loop. If you can’t do the full day, there are alternative options with Amtrak running routes from Sacramento to Davis. Tickets will cost you just $9 each way.  This alternative route can cut your ride time in half or just take it for the last leg home once you’re full of beer and bites. Davis has also provided a “Bak2Sac” program for the last two years  The Yolo County Visitor Bureau has partnered with local businesses in Davis to encourage Sacramento residents to ride their bikes to Davis, and even provides routes to explore the surrounding areas. Dine and shop at participating locations to gain a free train ticket back to Sacramento.  The program was in place from May to December of last year. We will see if it continues into the coming years. Note: Program subject to change based on year. 2015-12-16-Winters Cycling-Jose-61 2015-12-16-Winters Cycling-Jose-60Cycling through our city and the surrounding areas of the Sacramento Valley gives me a greater appreciation for where we live and what our city is growing into. It allows me to feel my surroundings in a way that’s not possible in a car. Cycling always gives the best parking spots as well. With the new development going on, I hope more people embrace the cycling and public transportation that this region offers.  

Featured Gear | City Bicycle Co. Type 001, Hot Italian Knit Pom Beanie, Grocery Tote by Rickshaw Bagworks, Hot Italian Thermal

Photos | Jose Barajas