Suppose there is an opportunity to combine public transportation with a reasonably long bike ride. In that case, one has to take it, especially in the United States, which isn’t blessed with good public transportation options. When I came across a local cycling meetup event about a bike ride from Martinez in the East Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area (and about a fifteen-minute drive from where I lived at the time) to the Sacramento, the state capital, and making the return journey on Amtrak, I was eager to join.

Our small group of three (with another rider joining along the way) departed from the Martinez Amtrak station at 8 am on a Saturday in late April. This time of the year was perfect for this ride, given that temperatures further inland can easily top 100F in the summer. We crossed the Carquinez Strait on the Benicia-Martinez Bridge (with a dedicated bike path). We were eager to put most of the climbing on this otherwise reasonably flat route behind us. The climbing was unplanned primarily and necessary because of a closure of Lopes Road, running in parallel to the 680 Freeway, due to a landslide.

Instead of this more direct route, we detoured via the Solano Bikeway. We made our way northeast via Cordelia and Suisun Valley, conjuring up images of Napa Valley and passing various wineries. From Fairfield, we moved north through Pleasants Valley, again dominated by lush green vegetation left and right of the reasonably low-traffic local road. We stopped for lunch in Winters before continuing east to the college town of Davis, where we rode through parts of the University of California, Davis campus. Kent, the ride host, and organizer, encouraged us to take a detour to visit the US Bicycle Hall of Fame; however, their opening hours are vastly limited, and it was unfortunately closed when we got there.

The remaining thirteen miles to Sacramento were dominated by riding next to the 80 Freeway, albeit on a bike path, which was, unfortunately, in parts, covered by road debris or the pavement littered with cracks and holes. Coming in from West Sacramento, we crossed the Tower Bridge before navigating through lively Old Sacramento and finishing at the Sacramento Amtrak Station. While the rest of the group celebrated with a beer at Bike Dog Brewing Company, I opted for a fancy coffee and cake at Temple Coffee Roasters.

Amtrak’s Capitol Corridor route turned out to be quite bike friendly. Each train has two designated bike cars, each providing space for about a dozen bicycles via racks mounted to the car walls. They also provide guidance and instructions on their website on how to board and store your bike on the train safely.

Our train back to Martinez ($19 for a one-way ticket) was scheduled to leave at 4:55 pm. However, shortly after pulling out from the station, the conductor informed us that there was some undefined “bridge problem” that had to be inspected before any train in either direction could proceed. It ended up delaying our departure by 90 minutes, during which we swapped stories and photos and reminisced about what a great way to spend a Saturday this was.