Cana Road - Winterlude 2020 - CycleBlaze

November 24, 2020

Cana Road

Campus Bicycles opens at 10.  I give them a half hour and then call up to check the status on my bike.  Cody is already working on it but says he still needs another hour.  For a brake adjustment?  He says if I show up at 11:30 though it should be ready.  Just early enough - if we’re on the road soon after, we’ve got time to fit in today’s planned ride.

At 11:30 I show up.  Cody is just finishing up.  In the meantime I chat with the other two staff in the shop - Ian, who gave up on the bike yesterday, and a woman who’s name I didn’t gather.  They want to know about the tour the bike just returned from, which I’d mentioned when I brought it in two days earlier.  Neither of them could mentally place Croatia, maybe didn’t even know it was a country, and were surprised when I mentioned the islands.  Immediately they’re browsing the computer, bringing up images from that beautiful, diverse country.  Ooh!  Aah!  They flip the screen around so I can see, and I point out places we recognize from our tour.  I tell them they should go.  You should too.

The bike is fine, but wasn’t before.  There actually was a real problem, Cody informs me.  The caliper spring for the brake pads was badly bent.  Unrepairable, so they replaced it and the pads with a set they hurriedly picked up this morning from a different shop in town.    I’m impressed.

Our LBS in Chico. Nice shop!
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We’re on the road right after noon, on a 40 mile out and back to the northwest, to the end of Cana Road - an agricultural lane that ends just shy of the Sacramento River.  There’s nothing special about the destination or the route that I’m aware of.  I picked it just because it’s off in a different direction than we’ve biked so far, and it’s the right distance.  It’s an out and back too, which works well for our time constraints.   We should be back soon after 4, so if we’re running shy on time we can just turn back early.

Except it’s not exactly a pure out and back.  As we pack up to leave I find my rack strap is missing.  After looking around the apartment without success, I call up Campus Bicycles.  Yup, it’s right here, Cody says apologetically.  No problem.  It gives us an opportunity to bike again through Bidwell Park.

Chico sprawls a bit further to the northwest than in other directions, but it’s an easy ride out of town - from the center of town we bike straight north toward the airport for four miles along the Esplanade before coming to the edge of town and intersecting with our planned itinerary. 

Northbound on the Esplanade. Actually, we’re just off it - there’s a side lane just to the right of the trees that parallels it and is virtually empty.
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Turning west from the Esplanade, we’re on the Nord Highway - the road to Nord, the biggest settlement out this way.  Highway is a big name for what’s actually a pretty empty road.  After about a quarter of a mile we leave the last of Chico’s suburbs behind and see a familiar sight ahead - an arrow straight, flat road lined with nut trees north and south.  

This is the same look we’ll enjoy, with minor variations, all the way to the end of the ride.  From the bustling community of Nord we turn north, following the even quieter Hamilton Nord Cana Highway, another big name for an even smaller road; and finally turn west again and follow the Cana Highway to its dead end at the river.

It’s fine but undramatic riding.  It gets prettier and quieter the further we go, and it’s quite beautiful toward the end as the orchards start thinning out and the terrain breaks into open ranch land punctuated by giant valley oaks.

We have the terrain in our favor on the way out, as we descend steadily - dropping a whole 100 feet in 20 miles.  Not much of a grade to be sure, but it helps offset the mild headwind we seem to be riding into.  With few distractions we keep a steady pace, and for a change I don’t fall much behind Rachael on this out and back.  It helps that there aren’t that many reasons to stop with the camera, and that my bike runs the smoothest that it has in a month.

Westbound on the Nord Highway, we see a familiar look - nut groves without end.
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We’ve really come here at a fine time to experience the best the region has to offer. Some orchards are still colorfully foliated, and in others the trees are stripped bare but their leaves still densely blanket the ground.
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Nord, the biggest thing in these parts.
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The view north from Nord.
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North of Nord, we passed a field with a half dozen of these strange devices, looking like something from War of the Worlds. I give up. Explain, please.
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Bill StoneAt one time, the Chico area had a big "steam punk" scene. Maybe it still does. These look like the kind of machines featured at the annual festival/gathering. Check out "Chico Steampunk Society."
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1 month ago
Bruce LellmanOK, now I feel really old or out of it or something. How did I miss an entire subculture like this?
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Bill StoneSteampunk? Really? I’m always the last to know.
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Bruce LellmanPretty peculiar subculture, alright. People are so strange! I think Bill could be right here. Note that the bolt heads are all still shiny on both of these examples. It looks like they’ve assembled old, rusted components into a wierd reconfiguration.
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1 month ago
Jen GrumbyIf one of these could fit in the Jetta will you bring it up for us? I'm sure we could put it to use!
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyOh, foop! You should have spoken up sooner, Jen. Of course we would, but we’re leaving the region early tomorrow AM. Next time, for sure.
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1 month ago
Along Cana Road, a bit of variety from the nut trees. Do you think I could get this colorful pair to have a look in my direction though? Nope.
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Here’s my cue to turn around, when Rachael comes back at me. We’re about a half mile shy of the end of the road, beside Cana Ranch. So if there actually is a Cana at the end of the Cana Highway, I guess we’ve found it.
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The Cana Ranch. As long as we’re stopped anyway, I might as well inch up their driveway for a better look at that old fire truck.
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Engine 18, from the Barker Valley Fire Co. Not the best shot, but the best available. The dog in the background is sounding more agitated, so it’s time to move on.
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Bruce LellmanThe original Steampunk Society made these.
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1 month ago

The ride back is disappointing.  I’d been looking forward to turning back and enjoying a tailwind - this is probably the only ride from Chico where we can hope for a tailwind returning to town.  Not today though.  The wind has shifted, is picking up strength, and we’re facing another 20 mile uphill slog.  Groan.  Pretty riding though in the late-day light, with a half moon rising over the eastern horizon.  We keep a good pace - or at least as good a pace as the wind allows us oldsters - so that we won’t be late getting home.

Eastbound into the wind, Cana Highway.
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We get a better view of Lassen and Brokeoff from this direction. There’s an almost decent view north to Shasta also, although with such flat terrain you can’t see it above the orchards.
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Here’s another of these eerie creatures! It must have something to do with nut cultivation. A drier? A still? You tell me.
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Along the Cana Highway.
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Jen GrumbyLovely composition!
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1 month ago
Victa CalvoEverytime I go back to California, I look for a ploughed field like this one. I walk out into the middle of it and fall face first into the dirt. I spend a couple of minutes trying to absorb it through my skin, hoping that it will last until the next trip.

Great photo!
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Victa CalvoInteresting practice. I’ve been known to execute a face plant or two myself, but not by design.
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1 month ago

Four miles from home, getting a bit weary from fighting the wind, we get an unexpected excuse to stop when biking south on a messy, shoulderless stretch of the Esplanade.  Rachael flattens, instantly and absolutely.  We pull off to the side of the highway, flip the bike upside down, and look for a flattening agent.  It doesn’t take long to spot, for a nice change.  At least I won’t have to spend time studying for something I. The tire that might just flatten the replacement.

It’s getting on the late side, so we rush through the job.  Fortunately we have a spare along.  And really fortunately, Rachael flattens today when I’m with her and can replace it for her, and not on one of the previous two days when she was riding on her own.  

Bike down!
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So disappointing. I thought these Schwalbe Marathons were supposed to be tough.
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Steve Miller/Grampiesat least it was easy to find.
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Steve Miller/GrampiesMy thoughts exactly. Not raining, not dark yet either. No complaints.
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1 month ago

We nail the job - denail it, actually.  Replacing the tube goes as fast as it ever does and we’re on the road about ten minutes later.  It’s getting dusky and chilly as we roll into the neighborhood not long before sundown.  Maximize the day, that’s our motto!

Then, a final challenge for the day.  The apartment has a keypad, but it denies us entry.  We try three or four times, but it’s obvious that something’s wrong.  I have an inspired thought - today is the day we were originally due to depart, and maybe the setting was timed with an expiration date.  Perhaps our host Jerry forgot to reset it when we extended our say.

Chilly and anxious, we give Jerry a call.  Good news - he answers immediately, and when I suggest my theory of the case you can almost hear him slap the side of his head.  Two minutes later we’re inside, Rachael’s warming up in the shower and I’m chilling out with one of Sierra Nevada’s finest.

Back in the neighborhood, arriving under a half moon. Do you know why Rachael keeps on biking right past our place? Neither do I.
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Bruce LellmanBecause she knew it had been only 41 miles. She knew she needed a little more.
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Bruce LellmanThat’s surely the explanation. She looked frustrated when she realized she was just biking into a cul-de-sac.
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1 month ago

Video sound track: So Happy Together, by The Turtles

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Ride stats today: 41 miles, 600’; for the tour: 189 miles, 3,700’

Today's ride: 41 miles (66 km)
Total: 231 miles (372 km)

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