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Old 08-14-05, 10:22 PM   #1
'nother
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Mountain descent, what would you have done?

Okay, here's the situation. I started a 6 mile, 2,000' descent with no cars behind me. The road has anywhere from 0 to about 8" of shoulder (shoulder = right of white line, if any). I am quite familiar with this road and can easily maintain 30-40 MPH (speed limit is 35), except for a few curves where I generally slow down to 20 or so (as do most non-performance cars). It's a great ride.

Anyway, I get about a mile into the descent, check my mirror, aw crap, there's a car right on my ass, he's on the gas like he wants to pass but there just isn't any opportunity, too many blind curves, he backs off. I pedal through the straights as fast as I can, really pushing my pace on this one to keep ahead of him, just under crash speed A few more glances in the mirror, now there are 3 or 4 cars lined up, oh boy, when are the horns going to start honking?!

When what to my wondering eyes should appear, a "cruiser" motorcycle, going about 30 MPH and showing no signs of speeding up. I am guessing this person was kind of a newbie motorcyclist, they looked like they were really taking it easy. There were a few points where I actually could have passed this person. But anyway, I figure, okay, now I'm no longer the weak link in the chain; if I weren't here, the cars would be slowing for this guy. So I just settle in, about 2 bike lengths behind the motorcycle, matching every acceleration and deceleration. Cars are really piling up now, there's like 6 of 'em.

We get to the bottom and the road flattens out, and the shoulder opens up. I slow down and pull aside, cars start whizzing past. No one actually said anything, but judging from the engine noise, some of these guys were in a real hurry.

It left me wondering, did I do the right thing? Should I have attempted instead to pull over up on the descent and let the cars pass me instead? Or what?
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Old 08-14-05, 10:41 PM   #2
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I woulda' passed the motorcycle!

Not to steal your thread or anything, but if this is the road I'm thinking it is, I was really bummed yesterday when I got passed by two cyclists descending this road. Of course, I had an excuse, I had a busted spoke and had to turn around about 23 miles into my ride and had to use caution on the corners.
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Old 08-14-05, 10:45 PM   #3
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Hey Steve! If your answer was Highway 9 (East), you are TEH WINNAR!!. I was on my way down at around 3 or 4 pm or so. I love flyin' down that thing! But I usually ride it on weekdays in the middle of the day when there's no traffic. But on a weekend evening, there are a lot of folks coming back from the beach or the mountains. It was really tempting to pass the motorcycle, I would have liked a picture of that! But I refrained Sorry to hear about the busted spoke.
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Old 08-14-05, 11:16 PM   #4
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So, what's the prize?

Yep, took the Saturday ride up Hwy 9 and south on Skyline/Break Creek/Summit descending the Old Santa Cruz Hwy, around the reservoir into Los Gatos. I planned a re-group at Castlerock but ended breaking a drive side spoke about a mile or so before I got there and had to turn around and head home. It really sucks to climb 9 miles and then have the descent ruined.

BTW, that was an easy one! Everyone around here knows that it's 6 miles from Pierce Rd. to Saratoga
Gap. (OK, maybe 5.5 miles.). And your description fit the bill perfectly.
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Old 08-15-05, 04:01 AM   #5
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I don't see what the problem was. I get tailgated all the time, I just let them sit. Frankly, it's not my problem.
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Old 08-15-05, 06:22 AM   #6
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Nice of you to not buzz the motorcycle.
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Old 08-15-05, 06:50 AM   #7
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If you are going within 5 MPH of the posted speed limit, you are not legaly impeeding traffic in most states. I would have held my spot in the right tire track in the straits and taken a little more lane in the turns....

And passed the motorcycle...
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Old 08-15-05, 08:19 AM   #8
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I wouldn't have pulled over --- just think of all the times YOU'VE been held up on a descent behind slow motorists. (Although, sometimes motorists will pull over and let the crazy cyclists go by on the mountain roads around here.)
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Old 08-15-05, 08:25 AM   #9
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Breakaway. I would have dropped the motorcycle at the first safe opportunity.
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Old 08-15-05, 08:42 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveE
I wouldn't have pulled over --- just think of all the times YOU'VE been held up on a descent behind slow motorists. (Although, sometimes motorists will pull over and let the crazy cyclists go by on the mountain roads around here.)
Heheh, yeah, this seems to happen to me on 84 a lot. There are more places for them to pull over there. It's fun to pass cars!

Thanks for the replies folks. Next time I'll see about passing that motorcycle
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Old 08-15-05, 09:30 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 'nother
We get to the bottom and the road flattens out, and the shoulder opens up. I slow down and pull aside, cars start whizzing past. No one actually said anything, but judging from the engine noise, some of these guys were in a real hurry.

It left me wondering, did I do the right thing? Should I have attempted instead to pull over up on the descent and let the cars pass me instead? Or what?
Leaglly you are covered. Morally I would say you are ok also, but what about self preservation? You hit a pathc of sand and go down, would the closest car be able to stop in time or are you road kill when otherwise you would walk away with nothing worse than road rash.

If there were a reasonable place I would have let them pass, simply because I do not enjoy cars on my tail.
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Old 08-15-05, 09:32 AM   #12
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I would've passed the MC. Hey was it a little cloudy and damp up there? I ended up riding in the east bay on the GPC ride. Didn't warm up till we got to Lafeyette.
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Old 08-15-05, 09:59 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Keith99
You hit a pathc of sand and go down, would the closest car be able to stop in time or are you road kill when otherwise you would walk away with nothing worse than road rash.
Yeah, actually those kind of thoughts did go through my mind. Hard to answer, though it doesn't take much imagination to conjure up a road kill scenario. It is not a terribly narrow road, but there are a lot of blind curves, and not many places for a car to pass a bike.

I guess that's one of the skills in descending, you have to not only be able to scan for and avoid hazards, but also have enough gumption to keep going


scarry: I was out there at 3-4 pm and it was plenty warm by then It was quite cool in the morning, though.


Here's a link to the route on Google maps if anyone's interested. I suppose you could plug this into Google Earth and get the 3-D if you are really bored.
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Old 08-15-05, 10:05 AM   #14
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What a waste of brakes and rims it would be to stop and pull over when you are descending. Besides, how many times do cars pass on a hill, only to end up slowing YOU down a bit later.
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Old 08-15-05, 10:09 AM   #15
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I think you did the right thing.
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Old 08-15-05, 10:13 AM   #16
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Whenver I'm a motorist in the mountains of Colorado, there are ALWAYS cars on my tail -- doesn't matter if it's clear or icy -- and much of this time, I'm going the speed limit. I think you should focus on your safety and following the traffic laws, both of which it sounds like you were doing. Sounds like a beautiful ride!
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Old 08-15-05, 10:20 AM   #17
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I would have doe what you did, 'nother, without worrying too much about the cars.
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