Fatigue Limit – 7

Penny farthing race sprint finish.

Nothing can compare to the camaraderie cultivated between individuals with like intentions beginning a long ride. Turning the pedals works wonders to loosen the tongue and put the rider in a mellow frame of mind. The legs are still supple, the lungs rested. And so it was in this upbeat mood that we began a long climb heading into the hills. We followed Martinez Road [Alpine Road] next to Corte Madera Creek, which had carved out a narrow canyon over millennia. Oaks, madrone, big-leaf maple, redwoods, and laurel hugged the steep slopes, giving us shelter from the sun.

I had been on this road before with Carl. Calling it a road stretched the definition. Carl assured me that San Mateo County would claim the right of way and improve it “one of these days.” He often railed against the county’s capricious treatment of roads as they put off maintenance or abandoned them all together.

Gary stayed in the pack as riders jockeyed for position around him on the rutted trail marked by mud puddles. They waited for the inevitable surge, at which time their good-natured friendliness would evaporate as fast as fog on a hot summer morning. They were like a school of sardines transformed into a pack of hungry sharks.

Gary had plenty of competition from local riders. Tim Mafer had shown promise in recent races at San Jose’s dirt track. He lived on Skyline near Spring Ridge where his father grew hay and cultivated vineyards. Paul Johansen, track racer and frame builder in Menlo Park, followed behind Carl, who stayed near the front.

Even though Carl was twice the age of many riders in our group, he had the strength to keep up. I fell to the back, gasping for air as the pace quickened, but managed to hang on.

Fatigue Limit home

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