How does your everyday adventure look?
This is me on a fixed gear bike, 1850 feet above sea level and about 10 miles from home on a fixed gear bicycle. And this is the story of how I got there.
Regular readers know I regularly take the Highway 17 bus “over the hill” to San Jose most mornings. Thursday morning, I had to turn right around and go straight home for personal reasons. As the bus engine strained against the last uphill climb just short of Summit Road on Highway 17, it coughed a sudden metallic *Ka-PING!*, sputtered and died as the bus operator muttered an oath and pulled to the side of the road.
We’re broken down 15 miles away from the Santa Cruz Metro bus barn, so a rescue bus is at least 30 minutes away. I’m only 10 miles from home, though, and it’s mostly downhill. It’s a good thing I have my bicycle with me!
After assuring the bus driver that I won’t get killed by Highway 17 traffic and that I know the back roads to my home, she discretely opens the door so I can abandon ship. I walk up the Summit Road exit and then begin down on Mountain Charlie Road.
Mountain Charlie Road is five miles of potholed, single lane poorly maintained remnant of a wagon trail that was hacked through the Santa Cruz Mountains in 1858. The road bends haphazardly across switchbacks and alongside cliff faces through mixed evergreens, oaks and towering redwood trees. Rivulets from the recent rains channel down and across pitted pavement. This wet and gravely road surface is far from ideal for a twitchy and stiff street bike like the Kona Bandwagon I’m riding.
Fixed gear cycling on a steep, sketchy downhill grade ranging from 5% to 17% is tough, and I don’t have a 15mm wrench on me to flip the wheel around to its freewheel side. Sightlines for hazards are in the tens of feet, so I rode the brakes most of the way down.
Still, all of this is a bit like taking a rocketship to the moon and complaining about the bad food. I’m on the moon! A bad road on a bike is far better than sitting cooped up inside of a non-functional bus. The stunning scenery through the Santa Cruz Mountains still takes my breath away. There’s almost no other traffic on Mountain Charlie Road. The sun shines, birds sing, squirrels play, and for a little while I can pretend all is right with the world.
What’s your everyday adventure like on a bike?