Take A Hike

Bike hikers ride their way to fun and health

By R.E. Graswich

December 2019

Steven Kahn was riding his bike along the American River Parkway when another rider came by and told him about the perfect club for people who ride bikes.

It’s a club that emphasizes fun and safety, where members stop at every stop sign and never blow through red lights, where coffee and lunch breaks are built into events, and where group leaders ride at the tail end, not the front, to make sure nobody gets left behind.

“I thought that sounded interesting,” Kahn says. “Everyone needs exercise, and everyone needs to socialize. Here was a club that lets people do both at the same time.”

The club is called Sacramento Bike Hikers, and it’s the oldest continually active cycling organization in the region, dating to 1968. Kahn, a retired construction manager for Jones Lang LaSalle real estate, is club president. He took the job because everyone else was having fun riding and leading tours, and no one really wanted to be president.

There are about 600 Bike Hikers. They never lack for opportunities to hop aboard their bikes and ride somewhere together, nearby or relatively far away. The club charts easy pedaling on flat valley byways and tougher climbs on twisting roads in the foothills.

“There is something for everyone, no matter what level you ride at,” Kahn says. “We pretty much have at least one ride per day, and some days we have several. We have more than 400 rides per year.”

The Bike Hikers are serious about making room for every rider. Weekday rides tend to be less strenuous. They are popular with older members who are retired and have the flexibility to ride when they please. The weekends tend to give way to longer, more difficult tours where hills are often involved.

But it’s a mistake to categorize the Bike Hikers.

“We have an older woman who’s retired and she really likes to climb,” Kahn says. “She can climb all day, and enjoy every minute of it. We have younger riders who don’t like to climb at all. So you never know.”

Ride leaders map out routes and post information on the Bike Hikers’ website at bikehikers.clubexpress.com. The website is a marvel. It’s clean, simple and easy to navigate—better than many professionally designed sites I’ve seen. Riders can look up rides by date and quickly learn what they are getting into.

The events come with lyrical titles. A November event called “Easy Riders,” which departed from Gold River, told members to expect “20 or so miles at a pace of 12 mph. The idea behind the ride is for newcomers and/or others who wish to go slower and not so far.” Start and estimated finish times are listed, along with the leader’s name and email.

Another November ride was called “Koumis-Maidu to Flower Farm.” The notes warned the route was 39 miles with 1,696 feet of climbs. “The ride will be swept at an intermediate pace and is not suggested for beginning riders,” the notes said.

Either way, whether participants go easy or intermediate, the adventure includes a stop for coffee.

Bike Hikers book several tours each year to places such as Sonoma, Monterey, Death Valley and Las Vegas. Members organize the tours. Each April, there’s a big event—Party Pardee—that covers 62 miles through Amador and Calaveras counties and lakes Pardee and Camanche.

“Pardee is our big fundraiser,” Kahn says. “We open registration on Jan. 1. It’s limited to 1,500 riders and always sells out.”

That means interested riders should move quickly after New Year’s Day. Party Pardee even has its own unique jersey, featuring a splash of multicolored stars and circles and geometric designs and the Bike Hikers’ logo. Nobody wearing one will ever be left behind.

R.E. Graswich can be reached at regraswich@icloud.com. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @insidesacramento.com.

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