TOY-RUN TRIP-UP: On this chilly November morn, a charitable group of cruiser riders were out collecting toys for the less fortunate. I saw hundreds of them roaring in the opposite direction from me on I-80 east of Sacramento. They looked a bit like lemmings. Normally, I wouldn’t make such a comparison, but between Greenback and Madison, one of them had veered into the concrete barrier of the center divide and I pictured three or four more may have followed. The stout concrete wall that divides east and westbound lanes provided no indication of impact – at least on my side of the freeway. In most any collision, I know, the concrete infrastructure wins.
Emergency crews were just arriving, gently pushing their fire trucks and meat wagons through a clump of fellow riders who were milling about the fast lane, undoubtedly shocked by the unfortunate incident. Further on, I noted a weaving CHP unit calming traffic upstream from the event. Very professional. Very practiced. Very it-happens-all-the-time.
ANTIQUES ROAD SHOW: Soon I found myself west of the Sacramento River. Fifteen or twenty minutes had elapsed and I was still flashing back on the difficulties the charity cruisers had experienced. Just west of Davis, I planned to route myself north on State Route 113 and cut west to Winters where I would pick up State Route 128. Ahead, a small flatbed truck occupied my lane. Ladened with a motley assortment of rusted relics appearing to be from the gold rush – a monitor nozzle, portions of a steam donkey, an ore cart, various rolls of wire – the overloaded vehicle should have been puttering along a lane or two further to his own right. Or, better yet, on the frontage road.
With the split for the 113 less than a mile ahead, I gave some thought to blasting past him on his right, a practice I cuss about when others do this. Instead, I opted for a legal and quick pass to his left knowing that if I timed things with care, I could ease into the exit lanes without cutting the old boy off. While passing, I noted the 80s era Ford, a three-quarter ton chassis with its pickup bed removed, was little more than a jalopy itself. The rusty load seemed loosely secured. The driver’s side window sported a large spider-web crack. The filmy windshield looked as if it hadn’t been seen Windex and a washrag since its last day at the showroom.
Goosing the big Beemer’s throttle, I allowed my fellow traveler adequate space before merging across his lane and onto my exit. A glance in my rearview mirror found a lashing dangling loose on the passenger side of the rig. And at that moment, some rusted component of our glorious gold rush history came crashing onto the freeway, rolling, spraying and skittering across I-80’s two right hand lanes.
I thought about the lemmings from twenty minutes back and realized I’d come within yards, seconds and one bad decision short of becoming one myself. The I realized: Luck of the draw being what it is, the rope on the left side could just as easily given way and, there’d I’d be, on the pavement, tangled up with history, waiting for the very professional, the very practiced, the very it-happens-all-the-time emergency crews to scrape up my sorry…
FINALLY, since loved ones may read this post, I won’t mention the cinder block sized chunk of slate that had broken free of the cut bank on route 128 during the previous night’s storm. It had positioned itself in my lane just beyond what should have been a delightful curve. Due to cold November temperatures and my desire to get to point B rather hurriedly, I eschewed my usual break at Monticello Dam. The sedimentary chunk was less than two miles further on, encircled by smaller bits of debris. Employing the Beemer’s ample antilock brakes, I slowed precipitously missing both the boxcar sized rock and the suicidal deer who happened to choose this moment to dart across the road a few yards beyond.
my first Trail 90
Church of the Open Road Press