I left my homeless encampment with an acute appreciation for the skills that unhoused people have selecting hidden, nice spots. This one had been perfect. It makes sense; they’re professional land surveyors and assessors.
I was going to shoot for a long day and make it to San Francisco, and the morning tailwind only increased my confidence. This stretch of PCH is gorgeous and has very little traffic. The miles ticked by with a few rolling grades followed by singing downhills.
Before long I reached Half Moon Bay. My phone was dead and my stomach was empty, so I pulled over at Cameron’s Restaurant and Pub, the first place I saw. It was gaily decorated and seemed open for business, so I wheeled in.
Cameron’s cheery Scottish wife, Agnes, popped out. “What’ll you have, love? We’re not open til eleven, though.”
“Oh,” I said with a sad, hungry face.
“But you look so positively famished … let me see if Cameron can get the grill going for you.”
It was chilly outside but I had a hot mug of coffee and soon enough was staring at one of Cameron’s “almost famous” half-pound burgers. If this was the almost famous one, I don’t think the world will endure the famous one; it was astonishingly good. I washed it down with a hot fudge brownie sundae.
By the time I was done it was almost noon, and when Agnes went inside to get my phone, I heard a little yelp. She came out apologetically. “I’m so sorry. The socket wasn’t on and your phone isn’t charged. I’m so, so sorry!”
I wasn’t in a hurry and so she took it back inside and plugged it in. By the time the phone charged up, San Francisco wasn’t looking realistic. As I got ready to go, I saw a sign on the door that said “camping.”
“Do you have camp sites?”
“Yes, love, but only for RVs. No tents. We used to have tent sites but it ended up attracting, well, you know, people without permanent residences.”
“Not exactly like you.”
“I’m going to try and find a spot at the state park but they’ve lately been shut down due to the covids coming to town and all.”
“Well, let me know if you can’t find a place. See that grove of trees over there? That’s ours. Pop by and I’ll ask Cameron if you can stay there the night.”
I took the back route to the state park that Agnes had recommended and went through a gorgeous alley of cypresses. It was incredible. But at the state park I was galled to find out that the entire park camping facility was open EXCEPT the bike-hike camp sites. Talk about dumb. The one group of people who actually need the sites? Bikers.
I went back to the pub. Agnes was gone but Cameron was on board. “Just be careful spreading your tent. Folks walk there dogs back there and such. And when you go tomorrow to San Francisco tomorrow, don’t take the tunnel at Moss Landing; take the Devil’s Slide. It’s staggering.”
I set up my tent and had time to spare, so, noticing that my rack was sagging, I whipped over to the local bike shop. It was nearing closing time and the services guys were exhausted. THAT CUSTOMER had just come in with THAT PROBLEM that demanded THAT MECHANIC’S immediate attention. Fortunately, it wasn’t me.
With a sigh the mechanic put THAT CUSTOMER’S bike up. I patiently waited.
Finally an exhausted mechanic named Tony came over. “Whatcha need?”
“I got the sags.”
He looked at the rack. “Yup. And that ain’t all you got.”
He unscrewed the rack and revealed a crack in each of the 100% carbon, full carbon, completely carbonized seat stays where the steel edge of the racks clamp on. “Is she gonna make it, doc?”
“Who put this thing on?”
“My ace mechanic. But when he put it on it was straight and level and worked perfectly.”
“What the hell happened?”
“Some meanies in a peloton in Ventura tried to drop me and so I had to go 35 over some big chug holes and dead bodies and such and it started sagging after that.”
Tony shook his head. “These cracks are gonna work their way through.”
“Have you ever seen a nuclear bomb blast?”
“Only on t.v.”
“It won’t be as bad as that.” He took the rack off, readjusted the rubber protectors, and got it back to Boozy P. standards. “You do this kind of riding often?”
“Yah. Well you might consider getting a bike designed for a rack. This is, you know, a racing bike.”
“What do I owe you?”
And like any good mechanic who has just saved someone’s ass and the save-ee knows it and is grateful, he said, “Nothing.”
“Fuck that,” I said, and have him a $50.
“That’s too much.”
“It’s not for the shop. It’s for the mechanics. Or do you guys not know how to drink beer?”
He laughed and took the money.
“How long do you think I have before the cracks go all the way through and the frame fails?”
“Could be never.” He paused. “Or it could be tomorrow.”
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