Blog-a-thon: Roni Jones: Biking through the Sierra Nevada Foothills

Roni Jones is a liaison for the National Geographic Education Alliance program, and a teaching consultant with nearly 20 years of experience educating students and teachers. In her free time Roni likes to ride her bike, run, snowshoe, hike, and do just about anything outdoors.

RJones_IMG_0498.JPGGeography is a part of my everyday life.  Not only do I work for National Geographic and advocate for geography education, but I am constantly worried about booking travel, scheduling meetings, and participating in phone conferences across many different time zones.  A working knowledge of geography is vital to me in most situations.  However, today was different. Today I was inspired by geography, inspired by how beautiful my local community is!

RJones_IMG_0499.JPGI love to ride my bike and often manipulate my schedule so that I can
pedal at least twice a week.  This time of year can be tricky to get
out in the afternoons because the days are short and the long shadows
come quickly.  But today I was able to time the day perfectly and was
out my front door on my bike just in time to catch the last few hours
of good light.

Since taking up bicycling, I have learned so much about my community.  I have learned that no matter where I travel from my house, I am required to go up or to go down.  I live in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada in Northern California.  Choosing to turn right today, I am traveling west and, this time of year, directly into the slowly sinking sun.  As I glide through the final stoplight at the top at the crest of a hill, I can see the foothills rolling down to the flatland of the Sacramento Valley.  It is so clear, I can see all the way to the coast range.

But, on a bike, down never really means down.  The roads undulate so that, although I am enjoying the freedom and speed a descent offers, it does not last long.  At the bottom of the gully, the road turns up again and I am forced to shift in order to maintain my speed.  The turn uphill isn’t anything I would have even noticed in a car, but on two wheels using my legs to power me, I am very aware of any small changes in gradient.


Today though, all my thoughts about the topography are washed away because the fall colors are at their brightest right now.  I realize that the fall colors of Northern California probably cannot compete against those of Maine or Vermont, but they are striking in their own way.  Not all the trees turn here so I am surprised by splashes of color as I turn a corner.  The colors are heightened at this time of day as the sun shines through the yellow and orange leaves.  After sitting at a computer for most of the day, it is a shock to find such intense colors and I find myself slowing down to take it in.

This ride is one of my favorites and I usually push myself to see how much more quickly I can complete the loop each time.  But today, I linger and take my time.  I keep wishing I could show everyone how beautiful my home is and tell them, “This is why I love living here!” 


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