Practical Cycling in Sacramento

Practical Cycle is a Transportation Company” – how is that for a bike shop description?! The Mechanic and I spent some time in this bike shop in Old Sacramento while we were in California last month, and were so impressed with the staff, the inventory, and their mission to “make cycling more practical for everyday people.” I had to make sure I shared Practical Cycle with as many people as I could! I hope that more bike shops will become more focused on the everyday cycling, rather than just on racing and sport cycling.

Practical Cycle in Old Town Sacramento

Practical Cycle in Old Town Sacramento

For starters, the shop rents bicycles. Electric bicycles. It rents electric bicycles! And if I remember correctly, there was even a cargo bike that was rentable! I wish there was a rentable cargo bike near me, I’d definitely test this out! Of course, they also sell them, several different brands, including Nihola, a cargo tricycle that The Mechanic loved because they have independent steering – the two front wheels move independently, the way wheels on a car does. And the cargo box doesn’t move with the wheels, which makes it more steady, a feature I like. Practical Cycle is apparently the only shop in the US to carry these bikes. They also carry a great selection of ebikes, tricycles, e-tricycles, and townie/commuter bikes. We each found several we would have loved to add to our stable.

Nihola cargo tricycles

Nihola cargo tricycles

We chatted a bit with Tim Castleman, one of the bike shop owners, and were impressed to hear (among other things) that the Sacramento Kidical Mass has had about 50-75 participants on recent weekends. We mentioned the new green lanes that we had seen on our walk over to Old Sac, to which Tim said, “If only they had put them where they are really needed.” Isn’t that the way it always goes?!

One of the new green lanes with the golden Tower Bridge in the distance

One of the new green lanes with the golden Tower Bridge in the distance

We did see people using this lane, however, many people, and most of them were helmet-less, front-basket bike, casually-dressed women and men of all ages, which naturally made me very happy. That’s the sign of a healthy bicycle culture. Midtown Sacramento has definitely become more bike-friendly, as I discovered last year, and I even heard a rumor through a local friend that a bike share system is in the works. When The Mechanic and I were closer to Tower Bridge in Old Sac, all the people on bicycles morphed into Lycra and hi-viz clad bike commuters, clearly headed over the bridge and off onto long treks home into West Sac. There will always be those hearty long-distance commuters – just as long as they aren’t the only ones on bikes.

Trust me, this blurry cyclist is a woman, with a wicker basket on the front of her bike, helmetless

Trust me, this blurry cyclist is a helmet-less woman with a wicker basket on the front of her bike

Bike rack in Old Sac - love the penny farthing!

Bike rack in Old Sac – love the penny farthing!

The Mechanic and I really wanted to buy something from Practical Cycle in support, but the only thing we could easily get home in our suitcases (and afford, and fit into our apartment) was the tee-shirt I bought. The electric bike themed shirt, Tim told me, was designed by a local artist. Sold! Yet another way to support local businesses. However, the store had a great selection of bike baskets, Basil bag panniers, cup holders, fenders, lights, bud vases (sooo tempted), and other really great accessories.

Wearing my Practical Cycle tee shirt in Mendocino

Wearing my Practical Cycle tee shirt in Mendocino

A bike shop that focuses on transportation cycling – what a dream! I would love to see more stores like this. But until I see more, I would like to encourage everyone who can to support Practical Cycle now, to make sure it stays open, and fulfills its mission. Get thee to Practical Cycle, and support transportation cycling!




Whirlwind Tour Through Northern CA

The Mechanic and I just returned from northern California, a whirlwind tour of my favorite childhood places. Ranging from Sacramento, to San Francisco, to Mendocino and Napa Valley, we covered a lot of territory in about ten days.

The first few days I was on my own in Sacramento at the Behavior, Energy and Climate Change conference. The keynote speaker was Dr. George Lakoff, whose book Don’t Think of an Elephant, I finished rereading on the plane. Panels on making behavior stick, social marketing, and even behavioral economics were all very inspiring. I attended last year, so I had a better idea of what to expect, but nevertheless, I came away energized (as it were) – as illustrated by me at the end of a conference workshop. IMG_7488

Before The Mechanic arrived after the conference was over, my mom and aunt and I went wedding dress shopping. Although we joked about having a “Say Yes to the Dress” argument, we had too much fun to even pretend to fight over something, and yes, I ended up getting a dress. But you’ll have to wait with The Mechanic until June 14 to see it!

I think this amazing sunset the day I bought my wedding dress was a mark of approval by the universe. (okay, probably not, but it's nice to think about!)

I think this amazing sunset the day I bought my wedding dress was a mark of approval by the universe. (okay, probably not, but it’s nice to think about!)

I dragged The Mechanic around Old Sacramento, where we had a tasty lunch at Rio City Cafe, toured the California State Railroad Museum, admired the new green lanes, and struck up conversations with the owners of Practical Cycle, a bike shop that specializes in electric bicycles and transportation bicycling. Their mission is “to make cycling more practical for everyday people,” people just like me, and I applaud them. More on them in a later blog post.

Practical Cycle, in Old Sacramento

Practical Cycle, in Old Sacramento

Then we spent Sunday night in San Francisco, where I was able to meet up with some friends, and geek out on the vintage streetcars, which I haven’t seen before. I haven’t spent any time in San Francisco in ages, so I was happily surprised at how bike-friendly the city has become. I’m sure any local will tell me it’s not perfect, but trust me, it’s an improvement!

We didn’t bike in SF but we rode the buses and streetcars everywhere. We were amazed at the fact that we never needed a bus schedule to figure out how long we needed to wait – they seemed to appear within 5-10 minutes! I really loved the streetcars, and the fact that they cost the same $2.00 as the buses did. We made use of our transfers, too. The Mechanic was super excited about the fact the electric buses are amazingly quiet.

After visiting Lombard Street, Fisherman’s Wharf, three friends, Golden Gate Park and the museums (although we didn’t go in any of them), Huckleberry Bikes, and watching the San Francisco Ballet “Nutcracker” projection in the mall dome, we drove up the coast to Mendocino, my most favorite place in the world, where we met up with my parents, aunt and cousin. We had a rental house just outside of Mendocino village for four nights, over Thanksgiving, allowing us time to really enjoy the area.

We vacationed here for a week every summer and the week of Thanksgiving for years, while I was in high school and college, and we used to consider ourselves locals of sorts. Local tourists? It’s been years since I was able to spend more than one night, and the weather gifted us with perfect warm temperatures and clear blue skies. I could go on and on about this area, but there just isn’t enough space! Pictures will have to do.

The Mechanic and my cousin and I drove back to Sacramento through Anderson Valley, where we did a wine tasting (and buying!) at Navarro Winery, plus a beer tasting at Anderson Valley Brewing Company (well, they did), and had a picnic lunch at Sattui Winery, the most crowded I have ever seen that place. Well, it was a perfect day, so who can blame the other tourists?!

My goodness we did a lot! I think the only reason why we weren’t exhausted at the end of this trip was because Mendocino was so relaxing. Wandering the Mendocino Headlands State Park, sitting watching the waves crash on the rocky shoreline, and just soaking up sunshine was almost all we did. It’s hard to relax and experience everything at the same time, but I think we did a pretty good job this trip! CAM00285