Hello again and welcome to the next installment of Beej's Lincoln Highway Rides.

This weekend was from Berkeley up to Chico to visit with the family. Since earlier I'd already gone up to Cordelia Junction, I quickly buzzed up there on I-80 and picked up where I left off.

This time I crossed the freeway on Suisun Valley Road, and went up to Rockville. There, the road used to easily curve east, but has since been squared off turning right onto Rockville Road.

Rockville Road is quite nice in the morning, with green grass, dew, mist, and the sun poking through the clouds. On the left is Iwama Market, which has been standing there since the 1920s. It has been closed for some time, I believe, but this particular morning, there was a gentleman there in a pickup truck who had store doors open. It looked like he was remodeling...? Perhaps the store will reopen soon.

Continuing on, you'll pass a house on the left with a variety of excellent metal sculpture. Rumor has it that there is a 1928 Lincoln Highway marker somewhere on the premises, but I didn't see one from the road.

Rockville Road soon hits Fairfield, and bends into W Texas Street. (Technically, it continued straight onto what is now Boynton Avenue, and then diagonaled down to W Texas via the Jenny Craig parking lot.) And then on into historic downtown Fairfield.

I've driven through Fairfield a bazillion times through the strip malls off 80, but I've never been to the old downtown—it's completely quaint, for sure. Until you get to the courthouse, anyway, which is notably imposing. But it does have a Lincoln Highway marker out front!

I think the marker has been relocated, since the arrow on the side indicates (incorrectly) that you should turn left when headed westbound. But that's OK. At least it's not buried under fill somewhere.

Parking in the courthouse parking lot, I popped over to take some pictures. There was a cop there that had pulled over a taxi, so I tried not to look too suspicious while photographing a government court building. I'd seen a huge number of cops on the main street, so I think they were circling for blood. But my lime safety vest discourages such predators, so I was able to get a couple crappy shots before sneaking away.

W Texas Street bends north to N Texas Street, and then the Lincoln Highway continues through what is now a bike path along I-80. I jumped on the freeway for this bit, but took the Lagoon Valley Road exit and backtracked on Nelson Road to hit the other side of the bike path.

I figured that since this road went to nowhere (just ends at the bike path), there would be no traffic. And there was no traffic—well, vehicle traffic. There was a 10-K race going on that day, so I had to be a bit of a bastard and weave through some packs of runners (sorry!) but the greater good was served: it was a great road! What a great pass to come through when first arriving in Fairfield in 1927! Very picturesque in a way that is completely lost on I-80 in the pass, below.

I turned around and weaved back through the runners once more, and went north across the freeway to Cherry Glen Road. This is another really nice old-feeling stretch that is super-picturesque. The sun came out again for me, gracing me with its presense. Cherry Glen loops up and back toward 80, but just before it gets there, it makes an abrupt and unexpected 90-degree left. (Going straight puts you on a different road!)

Turns out, the sharp left wasn't so sharp in the past—the old road is still visible through the trees, with grass growing up through cracks in the asphalt.

Going farther east, the road goes over some neat old bridges before dead-ending at a west-bound 80 offramp. The old Lincoln Highway is overlain by 80 for the short pass into Vacaville.

So I got back on 80, and exited at Alamo Drive, went over the freeway, and turned right on Merchant Street, which is again Lincoln Highway (and again signed with “Historic Route 40” markers).

It doesn't take long to get into old downtown Vacaville, which has a great western town feel to it, and a fair amount of history, including the Pony Express. The Lincoln Highway runs over the School Street Bridge (foot traffic only) and down School Street. The area is blessed with two Lincoln Highway markers, one at the west side of the bridge, and another along the creek a stone's throw east of the bridge. Sadly, the latter one has had its medallion pilfered.

Another enthusiast had mentioned that he wanted to make replica casts of the markers, so I took the opportunity to get all the dimensions from one of the 1928 markers. Now I just have to remember how to use POVRay... ;-)

Riding out of town, I passed a new set of apartments at E Monte Vista Avenue and Scoggins Court—The Lincoln Corner Apartments! The signage out front was a tribute to the Highway, and each block of buildings had Lincoln Highway-themed numbers on the side. Sweet of someone to remember!

But I had to get to Chico. I had 90 minutes of riding, and 90 minute to do it in. I checked the map for getting to 505, and it told me I had 135 minutes of riding to go. Erm—you'd think I'd know how long it took to make this trip by now, but apparently I've screwed it up. I texted ahead to tell people, and punched it.

Now, my bike has a carb, which means it doesn't really need a gas gauge. I use the trip odometer to get an idea of how far I have to go. Of course, mileage varies depending on how much city riding you're doing, and so on, but I figured I had about 80 miles left before reserve.

However, while going 70 up I-5, I was promptly shown otherwise. The engine quit. My first though was “I'm out of gas”, but my second thought was “no way”, because that would be a really really crappy 38 mpg. There were semi trailers swarming about, and I decided that instead of fiddling with crap in their midst, I'd just pull over, so I did.

From the set of gas, air, and spark, gas seemed the most likely to be missing. I switched to reserve, and after a couple tries, it fired up. Gassed up two exits later.

Apparently somewhere around 70 MPH is where my gallons-per-mile line rockets into the stratosphere.

About 10 minutes of riding later, I glanced down at my throttle hand, and the bolt into the expansion nut holding my barkbuster to the end of the handlebar was hanging out about 1.5 inches. It must have been a thread from falling away. What the hell... I loctited the crap out of that, I thought!

I reached over with my clutch hand and screwed it back on a bit, and took the next exit. I have a pile of tools on me in case something happens, and this was something. I loctited it up again and screwed it on. Hit the other side with the allen wrench, and it tightened up a bit, too. Ick! Everything on these thumpers just vibrates off.

Rest of the ride went off without a hitch. Visited my brother, sister-in-law, nephews, mom, dad, and Pat and Kat. Mexican food! Yum!

On the way back home from Chico, I rode directly to the end of West Capitol Avenue in Sacramento, which is at the east side of the original Yolo Causeway (now gone, but once ran north of the current 80 causeway). At a “bicycle park” here is a replica of a 1928 marker, placed in 2002. The paint is already peeling, which is a good demonstration of why the colors on the original markers were mixed into the concrete instead of painted on.

I devoured the worst ham sandwich ever (picked up from a miniature mart in Yuba City) and turned into town. The first highlight is crossing the Tower Bridge, erected in 1935 to replace the existing M Street Bridge. Once on the bridge, you get a clear view down the throat of the city to the capitol itself—it's quite a structure! It's truly a mini-national-capitol.

Due to a number of one-way streets, I chose not to follow the original route exactly, but did so, generally. The route runs out of town, then south on Stockton Boulevard.

Now, to be honest, this was a complete drag until I got to Elk Grove and stopped at Elk Grove County Park for a snack, water, and to check out a small historic plaque by the flagpole at the museum there.

South from there, I popped off at Arno Road. There once was a town here, called Arno, but a bypass was constructed in the 1920s to avoid a number of curves in the road. Eventually Arno, and all the structures therein, vanished into obscurity. Several of the old roads exist, but they are all gated to traffic, sadly. I had really really been looking forward to riding out there, too.

Continuing to Galt, I stopped briefly to check out a historic plaque in the SMUD Park that contained an old piece of Lincoln Highway concrete from 1924.

South of Galt, apparently there used to be an iron bridge across the dry creek that was the longest iron bridge in California. It's gone now, but ran west of the current bridge, and the southern end of the highway leading to the old bridge is still visible.

Lower Sacramento Road runs down to Woodbridge, which is just a lovely little set of old buildings on the north end of Lodi. I didn't enter Lodi-proper, though, since Lower Sac skims past it to the west.

Finally, it enters Stockton, turns into Pacific Avenue, then over to Center Street, and along McLeod Lake waterfront. I have to admit, I was hugely impressed by the waterfront. I'd always considered Stockton to be, putting it politely, a shithole. But I'm going to take back some of the things I've said about it, since by driving by on the freeway, I haven't been giving it a fair shake. There by the amphitheater, I felt like I was in any one of a dozen proper coastal port towns.

I ran out of town, skimming along the highway. A quick jog took me out to French Camp, presumably named for the French who camped there at one time, Mr. Watson. The town, established in 1832 for fur trading, is pretty run down, but the grade school is something else—bricks and character.

South again to Mossdale County Park. I'd been wanting to check this out since many photos show what is purported to be old Lincoln Highway concrete, but it doesn't match a 1930s aerial photo of the area. Now, since the highway is from 1913, it could be a previous alignment; who knows. When I got there, however, I found a new cyclone fence up, and I couldn't traipse around where I thought the 30s alignment would be found. Stopped again!

It was getting dark, and I wondered how much of the highway I could still follow. I texted Adam and Py to see if they were up for dinner in Livermore, and hit the road.

I crossed the late 1920s bridge that replaced the previous one at Mossdale, and headed west. I had to hop on the freeway for a bit, here, but then I was going to exit and head into Tracy via Banta. After a while, I realized that wasn't happening; I'd missed a turn. Shouldn't have taken that left at Albuquerque, and now I was passing Tracy to the north.

Oh well—it was virtually dark, so I'd just have to come back another time, probably on some Mother Lode caving trip. I continued down the freeway, getting off at Grant Line and headed out to Mountain House.

In Mountain House, there's a cafe and a few residents, and that's about it; the town is Yet Another Victim of the realignment to 580 in 1947. The road here is sliced in two by the California Aquaduct—it literally dead-ends in the levee on both sides of the channel. A newer bridge on Grant Line Road allows passage over the canal and up Altamont Pass.

Altamont Pass Road was the way through these mountains before 580, and also had a couple rail lines run through (one is now abandoned, with tracks removed). It's a great twisty road which is probably even more fun in the day time. Winding up through the power generation windmills, the bike was taking a real buffeting from the wind.

Some meathead driver passed me in the dark around a blind curve half in my lane on a double yellow. Is it really worth it, buddy?

Finally arrived at the town of Altamont. A garage here, Summit Garage, has been around since the early days of the Lincoln Highway. Not much else, other than a couple residences, remains of the town.

I dropped out of the hill and arrived in Livermore. I used my knees to steer, casually removed a glove, and checked my text messages.

Right. I pulled off to a gas station and checked my text messages. Apparently Py was having ribs and I was welcome to join them. I considered the offer. I didn't have to eat there—I still had Chex Mix in my saddlebag, after all.

I then devoured a pile of unholy-delicious ribs and garlic bread in excellent company. Sorry, General Mills! Yummy!

And from there, I just went straight home. I'd already ridden the stretch from Oakland to Livermore earlier, so no need for a rerun. Especially on the tail end of a long day. It was good to get home!
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Lincoln Highway, Cordelia to Vacaville, Sacramento to Livermore
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