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California teacher and freelance writer counts his blessings this new year. This is his fresh account of a ride south of San Francisco Bay Area...
Biking down the coast, I'm cruising with a tailwind, the royal blue Pacific to my right, all good things on my mind--and I pop two flats.
A fellow biker helps me with one; I fix the other. I go 10 more miles and my rear tire's flat, cooked, caput.
It's 5 PM, gorgeous coastal sunset, full moon, and I'm stuck 20 miles from Santa Cruz (my friend's kid is playing in a first night concert-I'm reinforcing a NY's resolution to ride more frequently). The rear tire's shot; no way to find the hole on the already thrice-patched tube. I'm dead meat.
I walk down the Highway 1, thumb out, I'll take either direction. I come to a call box--the cop says hang tight for an hour. No, he says, AAA won't respond to a biker's call even if you have AAA. I continue to thumb in both directions. It's a little after 5 PM, dark, and my friend Mike is waiting for me to go with him to a club called Palookaville to see his kid play in his group, named the Haskells--yup, after Eddie--at 6:45.
I've pulled out my Levi's and street shoes. I hope the cop shows up in an hour and gives me a ride, somewhere, I don't care where.
Ten minutes later, a truck with a camper shell pulls over. I jog down the dark road, bike at my side. Tom from SF is going to Santa Cruz. I cop the ride.
I'm ga-ga. He's maybe 25, but his vibe is the best of the '60s. He turns down the Gregorian chant on his cassette. He's got a display across his dashboard--some green organic stuff. He says he started this drive reflecting on the year, wishing that he'd done more to help people out. Suddenly, I appear on the road side, all the better that I have a bike--he bikes, too. He's off to spend New Year's with friends. They'll reflect on regrets and thankfuls for '98, and what they can accept for '99.
We drive the 25 miles to Santa Cruz. He lets me off a 1/2 block from my friend's house. I arrive in time to bathe, change, and head off to Palookaville just in time.
Of course, here I am stuck an extra day. Santa Cruz, Mountain Bike Capital of California, of course, no bike shops open NY's day. I need a presta valved tube, probably two, and a new tire. I'm stuck here, stuck to hang out with old Peace Corps mate, Mike Munson, and drink in the pleasures of the new year. Bike shops to open tomorrow. I'll get what I need, catch a 20-mile ride by bus up the coast, and pedal the final 30 miles to Half Moon Bay where I parked my car...
This guy, Tom--young, long-haired, spirit-filled, looking at New Year's the way you're supposed to (Janus: Roman god, 2 heads, one forward, one back--looking ahead; looking behind). Me, the impulsive long distance biker, the receiver of this angel's lift.
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