Ord Bend - Winterlude 2020 - CycleBlaze

November 21, 2020

Ord Bend

Enough with the hills, back to the flatlands again.  Today, we’re heading east for a loop to the far side of the Sacramento River.  The Sacramento is a large, wide river; and in this part of the valley there are few bridges across it.  Today we’re taking the only loop starting from a Chico that is reasonable length (for legs and knees of our vintage), crosses the river over one bridge, and returns over another.

After the few miles that it takes us to escape Chico, we take the most direct paved route to our first crossing at Ord Bend, 17 miles away - southwest on Chico River Road, south on River road, east on Ord Ferry Road, to the bridge that put Ord Bend Ferry out of business.  It’s absolutely flat and respectably quiet and traffic free the whole way.  This is also the most direct route to Llano Seco, so I imagine we’ll see this ride again before we leave town.

You won’t be surprised that walnuts are grown here.  Lots of walnuts.

Westbound on Chico River Road. There is no Chico River, so I suppose the name is shorthand for From Chico to the River Road. We’re in Walnutland for nearly the entire way.
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Walnuts, with no end in sight.
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The entryway to M&T Chico Ranch, a vast farm dating back to the 1880’s but now a property of PacTrust. From the website description, it includes 3,000 acres of walnuts, 1,400 acres of almonds, and 500 acres of prunes.
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Here’s a satellite view of the white structure at the end of that long driveway. I’d love to go down that road for a closer look. I’ll have to see if I can get in touch with them and get permission.
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And then there’s this, by the side of the road. A nut storage silo?
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Bruce LellmanIt's probably an upscale squirrel condo.
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Bruce LellmanThat’s nuts!
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1 month ago
Maybe these are some of those 500 acres of prunes? In the distance is Mount Lassen, I assume. Are both peaks part of the mountain?
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Bruce LellmanI don't think Mt. Lassen has two peaks like that. Is this view looking NE or straight east? It could be two other peaks if you are looking straight east.
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1 month ago
Victa CalvoTo Bruce LellmanHello Gentlemen,

From memory, that looks like Lassen on the right and perhaps Brokeoff Mountain (Mt Tehama) on the left. There's only about 1000 ft elevation between Lassen and it's sister peaks and from that distance and angle it is sometimes hard to tell which is which. It's very pretty country up there and well worth a visit some day.

Victa
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Bruce LellmanNNE. I’m sure this must be Lassen. I think Victa has it right, and the other peak on the left is Brokeoff. It’s the second highest peak in the complex, and only about 1,000 feet lower.
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Victa CalvoThanks, Victa. That looks right to me too. I’m not familiar with Lassen at all. In a warmer season I’d like to cycle up that way some year. It’s such a complex collection of peaks, and Brokeoff doesn’t even show up on the map unless you zoom in to the right resolution.
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1 month ago
Bruce LellmanVicta knows. Even though he jumped ship years ago he's still a Californian, he knows his terrain.
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1 month ago
Crossing the Sacramento on the Ord Ferry Bridge.
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An archive photo of the Ord Ferry, obsoleted when the bridge was opened in 1949.
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The view north from the Ord Ferry Bridge, along the curve of what is presumably Ord Bend. The bend is named after nearby Ord Ranch, operated in the 1850’s by Edward O. C. Ord (the army general that Fort Ord is also named after) and two of his brothers.
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A closer look at Ord Bend.
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We break our ride at the Ord Ferry boat landing, lured in by its rest room.  It is open fortunately, but only one half is usable - the men’s stall is disgusting, flooded to overflowing.  Rachael stands sentry while I take my turn in the women’s facility, and shortly after I exit a car drives up and the driver hops out and  almost runs to use it herself.  Good thing I didn’t take longer!   We might have had an embarrassing little drama on our hands.

The ride up the west side of the river is the expected afternoon upwind slog, eight miles to Hamilton City and the return bridge.  The first five miles are on unshouldered but suitably quiet county road 45 - an absolutely straight, flat shot; and generally uninteresting, with few features to distract us from the 20mph unobstructed headwind.

Featureless, that is, until we come to the sandhill cranes - perhaps a thousand or more of them, strung out alongside for about a half mile in a semi flooded rice pasture.

Another new one for the catalog. I’ve never seen a fence constructed from loading pallets before.
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Local agricultural roads branch off from the highway at half-mile intervals - a nice metric for counting off distance on your upwind slog. Here, Rachael stops to bike down road 30 (or maybe it’s 30-1/2 or 31; I’m not sure) to rustle up the starlings for some good video footage.
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The view across a flooded pasture, from road 30 (or 30-1/2, or 31; see above).
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That swarm of starlings was a nice excuse for a break from the winds, but nothing like this. For the next half mile we bike past crane-filled pastures, stopping to admire their slow-motion prancing and gutteral croaks.
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This patient pair was really close to the road - the closest up we’ve ever seen this magnificent bird, I think.
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I could have included a half dozen shots of this handsome couple, but surely at least two are warranted.
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Three though? Perhaps excessive. I’ll stop here.
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Jen GrumbyDefinitely not too many, in my opinion.

I just wish there was a sound file to go with them!
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyYes, I know. The thought crossed my mind to take a video, but just kept going. Next time.
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1 month ago

Five sloggy miles later, tired but elated by the cranes, we pull off from the highway onto a much quieter paved lane that parallels an irrigation canal for the remaining three miles to Hamilton City.  I don’t think we see a single car on this road, which is great; and we’re back in the orchards again which serve as a bit of a windbreak.

From Hamilton City we turn east on Highway 32 - a real highway, with real traffic for a change.  A good shoulder, but not particularly enjoyable after all the quiet riding we’ve seen before.  We cross the river back into Butte County on the functional but architecturally uninteresting Gianella Bridge, and then turn off a mile later onto much quieter roads for the remaining ten miles home.

The Glenn-Colusa Canal, an irrigation waterway to support agricultural needs on the west side of the river.
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Northbound along the canal. Much nicer.
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At the outskirts of Hamilton City, Rachael can’t resist cruising down this palm-lined street for a ways, just because.
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Crossing the Sacramento again, eastbound on the Gianella Bridge.
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A last look for the day at the Sacramento River.
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Video sound track: Part of Me, by Lara Fabian

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Ride stats today: 45 miles, 300’; for the tour: 148 miles, 3,100’

Today's ride: 45 miles (72 km)
Total: 148 miles (238 km)

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