Fatigue Limit – 6

Cigar-chomping official watches
race finish around 1890.

Gary had sinewy muscles like a cheetah’s, and physical proportions right out of a gym book. Everything about his physique spoke to speed and grace on the bike. And he had yet to start riding. I understood why this twenty-year-old rider was going places.

“Where to fellows?” Gary asked. “I’m up for a good ride. I’ve been doing so much traveling by train this past week that I haven’t practiced much.”

Carl looked at Gary’s bike and pointed to the drivetrain. “You must be left handed.” Everyone laughed, Gary included. Our circle of sycophants followed as Carl rode west, waving his hand like a modern-day wagon master. Our Pied Piper on the bike rode all the trails and logging roads in the Santa Cruz Mountains. We joined him, anxious to stay on his wheel for fear of becoming lost in the hills. His large size made for a good draft. We weren’t proud.

“Not another Koenig Ride!” someone yelled. “If there’s any grizzlies in those hills, we’re sure to find them.” Everyone laughed as the pace picked up to a comfortable level allowing for conversation. We rode west on Menlo Park and Santa Cruz Turnpike [Alpine Road], a well-graded thoroughfare to Portola Valley, passing the occasional horse rider and wagon on the way into the oak-covered hills. Small stands of redwoods made their appearance. These stately trees grew in abundance in the Santa Cruz Mountains, a lure for any logger with a lust for fine lumber.

Some of the wealthiest families in the San Francisco Bay Area lived by the road, including Andrew Hallidie, inventor of San Francisco’s iconic cable cars. The presence of wealthy landowners and their connections with local politicians ensured that the road would be well maintained. Water wagons plied the pastoral boulevard daily.

We passed Chapete’s [Alpine Inn] where cyclists stopped after a ride for a cold brew and to share stories of adventure in the far corners of San Mateo County. Before the cyclists, it was the woodsmen who worked the nearby sawmills telling tall tales. Loggers shared a common bond with Carl’s riders. They liked the outdoors, worked hard, and spent long hours in the woods.

Fatigue Limit home

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