I finished. I rode my bike on every street in Stockton. On Saturday, December 27, three months after I started my quest to ride every street in Stockton, and just a few days before my self-imposed deadline, I crossed the ceremonial finish line. In those three months I rode 1,566 miles throughout Stockton, taking 119 hours. That was, by far, the most I had ever spent on my bike in any three month period in my life.
When last we met, I was two months and 1,053 miles into my journey and still had no idea how many miles it would take to complete it.
For the final ride, I was joined by my friends David Ripperda, Daniel Wallmark and Ralph Womack. It was an honor to be joined by these three gentlemen on my final ride.
As I wrote before, there are many lenses from which to view Stockton. News headlines, social media, out-of-towners’ opinions – everyone seems to have one. I chose to actually go see Stockton, all of it.
I was fortunate to get way more than 15 minutes of attention. I am privileged to have been covered by the Record (12/9/14, video, 1/2/15) as well as Good Day Sacramento Weekend and KOVR 13. I was also featured as the cover story on the third edition of Positive Perspective Stockton magazine.
Now that I’m done, let me quickly answer the first couple of questions I am so often asked. No, I am not crazy. And no, I was never robbed, shot or mugged.
What does riding every street mean? Well, for one, it means riding into every court, and there are a lot of courts and cul-de-sacs in Stockton. Also, I skipped the gated communities in town. But I did include those unincorporated areas within the city footprint. But the courts... man, there were a lot of them!
I started this endeavor on Saturday, September 27 - the day of the 2014 San Joaquin Bike Fest. I am a board member of the San Joaquin Bike Coalition and I led a group of riders from University of the Pacific to and around Downtown Stockton. As is usually the case, many of them commented that this was their first time downtown on a bike.
I had this idea of riding on every street for a long time but never actually put any work into trying to determine how long it would take. On the morning of September 27, I finally decided to do it and gave myself until the end of the year (just three months and a few days) to complete it.
I had no idea how many miles it would be or if it was even possible. Although I had spent some time riding my bike through Stockton over the last decade or so, I wasn’t exactly sure that riding on EVERY street in Stockton was even possible.
I love Stockton. I have lived here nearly my entire life. I also love riding my bike throughout Stockton. As an avid cyclist for more than 10 years, I have enjoyed riding my bike all around our city, in and around Lodi and and the little towns around the delta. When I worked in the east bay I used to ride my bike to work a couple of times a year. I now work in Lodi and try to ride to work two or three times each month. I enjoy riding in the foothills, in the hills to the south of us and really love climbing Mount Diablo and Morgan Territory.
But I have always really loved riding throughout Stockton. I enjoy finding new ways around and through town on my bike. I enjoy spending time throughout the city.
Stockton is so many things and so many places to so many people. What does Stockton look like to you? How many of these pictures and videos do YOU recognize as your Stockton? (click each picture for the full image)
I took over 5,000 pictures - but don't worry, I only posted 200 https://www.flickr.com/photos/mattbeckwith/sets/72157649249552346
Stockton has always been special to me, it's where my I've lived for most of my life, and it’s where my wife and I have chosen to raise our family.
For all of my love for Stockton, I am not blind to its problems. This ride wasn't about ignoring our problems. It was simply about seeing the city, actually seeing it. All of it.
My goal was to get out there and see the city, every bit of it, not just the main streets, or Main Street, but every street. I love our city and realized that for everything I knew about Stockton, there was still quite a bit that I had never seen, and a lot of what I did see was through the windshield of a car.
If I had to use one word to sum up everything I learned while trekking through the city on two wheels it would be proximity.
The proximity of well kept neighborhoods to those that some might describe as urban blight is closer than many people think. Throughout Stockton, there are neighborhoods separated by a few blocks but that seem like they are hundreds of miles away. Other side of the tracks? Not in Stockton. So many of our neighborhoods have an "other side of the tracks" close by.
We have poverty. Maybe some people in this city haven't seen it up close. I saw it. There were many parts of town that I had never seen before.
I think most people don't venture much out of their “part” of Stockton. Their part isn't just the north or south or east or west but the places they go.
Many people told me I was crazy for venturing to certain parts of Stockton - usually the south side or east side.
"I can't believe you went down there."
I heard that a lot. A lot.
But what about the people that live there? And work there? I certainly am not the only person that has ever spent time in rough neighborhoods in Stockton. I'm not ignoring the existence of crime in Stockton, but by the way some people talk you would think that crime happens every second of every day in some parts of our city. That's obviously not true. Neighborhoods don’t commit crimes. People commit crimes. And clearly, not all people commit crimes.
I was mostly invisible to people as I rode through town. That's not to say that I didn’t stand out. I stood out for sure in many neighborhoods.
I didn’t stand out because of my skin color, I stood out because I looked like a typical road cyclist, in lycra shorts, jersey and wearing a helmet.
As one online commenter wrote, "He certainly stood out because no one around where I live wears cycling attire when they ride bikes."
Another commenter on the Record’s website doubted I could survive riding throughout Stockton.
Thanks to all my friends and family that encouraged me along the way. And thanks to those that showed up on the final day to be there as I finished. And thanks to Tim Ulmer, the amazing photographer recently named Stocktonian of the Year, for coming out to take photos!
Thanks, especially, to my wife and daughters who encouraged me more than anyone, forgave me for being out of the house so often, and also brought me food and checked in on me on days I spent hours on the bike.
Here are all of the ride details:
9/27/14 27.7 miles http://app.strava.com/activities/200867638
9/28/14 10.3 miles http://app.strava.com/activities/200867632
9/29/14 7.5 miles http://app.strava.com/activities/201290210
9/30/14 12.3 miles http://app.strava.com/activities/201716774
10/4/14 7.2 miles http://app.strava.com/activities/203269077
10/4/14 16.3 miles http://app.strava.com/activities/203269089
10/5/14 28.2 miles http://app.strava.com/activities/203777995
10/5/14 22.1 miles http://app.strava.com/activities/203856736
10/7/14 9.0 miles http://app.strava.com/activities/204414756
10/8/14 52.0 miles http://app.strava.com/activities/204963583
10/9/14 11.7 miles http://app.strava.com/activities/205212971
10/11/14 36.6 miles http://app.strava.com/activities/206240372
10/12/14 72.0 miles http://app.strava.com/activities/206715630
10/18/14 63.3 miles http://app.strava.com/activities/208942202
10/19/14 45.8 miles http://app.strava.com/activities/209407099
10/21/14 13.4 miles http://app.strava.com/activities/210002775
10/21/14 10.3 miles http://app.strava.com/activities/210230522
10/23/14 25.1 miles http://app.strava.com/activities/210812684
10/25/14 15.5 miles http://app.strava.com/activities/211673102
10/26/14 65.1 miles http://app.strava.com/activities/212150785
10/28/14 9.2 miles http://app.strava.com/activities/212707129
10/28/14 19.0 miles http://app.strava.com/activities/212984734
10/29/14 15.6 miles http://app.strava.com/activities/213362551
11/2/14 42.4 miles http://app.strava.com/activities/214902822
11/6/14 16.0 miles http://app.strava.com/activities/216382479
11/8/14 75.1 miles http://app.strava.com/activities/217053853
11/10/14 21.2 miles http://app.strava.com/activities/217972191
11/11/14 15.2 miles http://app.strava.com/activities/218337272
11/15/14 86.3 miles http://app.strava.com/activities/219645701
11/16/14 47.1 miles http://app.strava.com/activities/220074963
11/21/14 39.2 miles http://app.strava.com/activities/221703846
11/22/14 23.4 miles http://app.strava.com/activities/222122575
11/23/14 91.1 miles http://app.strava.com/activities/222589363
11/28/14 53.1 miles http://app.strava.com/activities/224217543
11/29/14 21.8 miles http://app.strava.com/activities/224604641
11/30/14 30.5 miles http://app.strava.com/activities/224918865
12/1/14 16.2 miles http://app.strava.com/activities/225382526
12/2/14 80.4 miles http://app.strava.com/activities/227990360
12/13/14 20.5 miles http://app.strava.com/activities/229057269
12/14/14 54.2 miles http://app.strava.com/activities/229528475
12/20/14 70.1 miles http://app.strava.com/activities/231291395
12/21/14 83.1 miles http://app.strava.com/activities/231711266
12/22/14 66.2 miles http://app.strava.com/activities/234293857
12/27/14 27.3 miles http://app.strava.com/activities/233583760
My journey through Stockton on my bike reinforced my love for my city. It reminded me how beautiful Stockton and its residents can be. Lastly, it was a great reminder to me to get out more, to stray from the beaten path now and then. Stockton is beautiful and it's worth fighting for. There's a lot to see out there. Have fun out there biking, Stockton.
See you out on the road!