Lane splitting and railroad tracks

Sharing the road with cars, trucks, tour buses, pedestrians, and trains on Beach Street in Santa Cruz, California.

Santa Cruz saw the usual heavy summer traffic as tens of thousands of people visited the wharf, the Boardwalk and the beaches last Saturday. I shot photos of the Wildcat bike race, a beach town version of an alleycat scavenger hunt race done (mostly) with cyclocross bikes and involving a river fording, a rock garden, nudity and ZipLock bags.

Per usual, traffic idled on Beach Street as tourists sought parking near the Boardwalk. There’s a nice segregated sidepath along Beach Street that tour bus operators use as their loading and unloading zones. As I followed the racers down this Beach Street cyclepath, I decided to cut off of the bike path and ride my bike between the stalled traffic lanes on Beach.

I leapt before looking, but I immediately realized my mistake. Can you see the problem in this Google Streetview with riding between the two lanes? Look closely at the dashed lines that mark the lane.

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The Union Pacific railroad tracks run straight down the middle of the street, exactly where I’m riding my bike. The tracks really constrain my maneuvering, so I immediately slowed and angled to make my escape from this mess and back to the cyclepath when *whamo* my wheel dropped into the track and I went down hard on the pavement. Several bystanders gasped as I tumbled headlong and I lost a little skin to Beach Street.

And since somebody’s going to ask: the bike is fine. I’m a little sore today, but otherwise there are no injuries.

The Wildcat race itself encompassed about 35 miles. I rode 32 miles taking photos and bypassing checkpoints, but I only shot about half of the race. A great time was had by all.

To see the Wildcat race photos, click here for the fancy Flash slideshow version or here for the simple HTML click through the thumbnails version, or just watch it below:


  1. Wow. 20 years away from The Cruz and I recognize every little bit of the terrain in those images. My parents used to own the the business right down by the Dream Inn and Positively Front Street which is now (or was?) Las Palmas Taco Bar. It was the 70’s and it was the Burger Shoppe. We used to watch the bike races there. Great pics.

  2. Arg! Train tracks! I crashed last Tuesday and strained my AC ligament. Off the bike for a couple of weeks. I crashed on tracks that angle across the road and at the time were wet. Instead of stopping to help me cars honked! At least no one ran me over.

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