This is going to be harder than I thought
March 10, 2010
It rained last night and the temps were uncommonly low for this time of the year. But the morning dawned clear and cold and I thought I would take a ride and visit the last two missions on my list. I was looking forward to an easy 300 mile drive up over the coastal range and down the coast to Santa Cruz and Carmel.
Never wanting to make things too easy, I decided to cross the coastal range at Mt Hamilton. The ride down Corral Hollow Road, Mines Road and then across the top on San Antonio Road is always full of beautiful scenery and winding roads. That is all I need.
It was a balmy 45 degrees when I started but the sky was clear and cloudless. Forty-five degrees may sound a bit cold to be bouncing along at 60 MPH but with the sun out and wearing everything I own, it was not so bad. It was quite comfortable actually.
I was having a good time and actually getting tired of all of the curves, as they were wearing me out. I was looking forward to dropping down into San Jose, picking up some fuel and then riding on relatively straight roads for a while. That is when I came around a corner and saw three trucks strewn haphazardly on the road.
I slowed down to figure out what had happened. Three vehicles does not sound like very many but that has probably the number I had seen in the last forty miles. While I was checking this all out my rear tire started slipping. Then I started going sideways. Then I started slipping towards the edge where there was a steep drop off and no guard rail.
This was all happening at less than 5 miles an hour but the lack of control was pretty incredible.
Black ice! Yikes. There was about a hundred yards of it as a result of the cold temperatures and the previous night’s rain. This one little section was in the shade and it looked like it was going to be that way for a while. Amazingly, the air temperature was 45 degrees. But this stuff was so slick no one could stand on it so pushing these vehicles up this stretch was out of the question. And they could not go back down because they had zero steering control. This was pretty scary stuff.
I could not stay in the travel lane because it was only a matter of time before someone else came barreling into this mess and hit me. I was able to walk my bike back down the 20 yards of ice that I had traveled on by scooting my feet and using the engine compression to slow it down. Even then I skidded off of the road on the uphill side and had to get some help from one of the stranded motorist to get out. Just as I got out of the travel lane another vehicle came driving up and started skidding uncontrollably but managed to get stopped before going over the side or hitting something (me). I have never been on anything this slick short of an ice skating arena. This was like an ice skating rink on a slant.
Once I got back to where the sun was shining I was able to turn around and head back the way I came. Now I had a fuel problem since the nearest gas station was 40 miles away and I had been counting on refueling in San Jose. And the next fork in the road was forty miles away. I did make it to the service station and got some gas but at that point I gave up. I had gone over a 150 miles and I was about 20 miles from where I had started. There will be other days. Except for the ice, it was a great ride.