Wednesday, 30 Apr 2003

FAIRFIELD, Calif.

Wind: good for turbines, bad for bicyclists.

Photo: Mike Kahn.

Day Four of the ride begins with a group chant: “no wind, no wind.” Our route takes us through the Sacramento Delta Region, which can be extremely windy this time of year. Forty- to 50-mile-an-hour headwinds are not uncommon in this area. As you might imagine, when this kind of wind collides with a cyclist, it is not a pleasant experience for the rider.

Today was a good news/bad news kind of day. The good news was that the skies were clear and the temperature was considerably warmer than the past few days. The bad news was that the city of Brentwood, once a quiet farm community, has succumbed to sprawl. It has quadrupled in size since 1990, when developers set their sites on it. We made our approach into Brentwood on Vasco Road. The traffic heading out of town, toward a work destination in Oakland, San Francisco, or points beyond, was constant. Most of the traffic heading into Brentwood was construction vehicles laden with lumber or pipes or building equipment.

We stopped at the Brentwood Bicycle Shop for a quick briefing with a Contra Costa County Greenbelt Alliance representative. More bad news. There are 2,700 acres (four square miles) of ranch land at risk of development. The area has been cleverly named FUA#1: Future Urban Area #1. If developed, the area would add 140,000 car trips each day to already overcrowded roads and freeways. The Greenbelt Alliance is mounting a public-awareness campaign, informing the citizens about these growth plans. They are trying to create community involvement and public control over land-use decisions. The Greenbelt Alliance is also working to create urban growth boundaries, mapped lines that separate towns and cities from their surrounding greenbelts of open lands, a concept important to preserving the integrity of local communities.

After the stop, we rode off through the outskirts of Brentwood. After a 20-mile transition ride to Antioch, we cross a bridge that spans the Sacramento River. We lunched in the town of Rio Vista, where nothing ever seems to change. Main Street still intersects 2nd Street, trailing out of town into the Montezuma Hills, a change of landscape so dramatic, it surprises me every time.

Back to the really good news of the day.: The winds were light in the Montezuma Hills — in fact, so light that we all felt giddy, passing through Bird’s Landing where the eucalyptus trees sing with birds. People are still talking about the snow on top of Mt. Hamilton, but for me, it feels like a distant memory after such a spectacular day of cycling.

Keep on truckin’.

Photo: Mike Kahn.

Tonight, Mary Jane and I had an opportunity to speak to the group about our company, Veritable Vegetable. As a wholesale distribution company of organically grown fruits and vegetables, we have been a major sponsor of this ride for 12 years. We provide all organic fruits and vegetables for the riders and have connected the Greenbelt Alliance to other companies that have donated organic and natural foods for the ride. Veritable will celebrate our 30th anniversary next year. As a company, we work hard to sustain the small farmer. Our mission is closely linked with that of the Greenbelt Alliance and we are proud of the work we do with them and proud to help support this ride. This year, we are using one of our trucks as the gear truck. It’s particularly nice to have our name and logo traveling down the road with the riders.