One Good Turn Deserves Another
Feeling anxious with too much energy and no direction to focus it. Just the need to go do...something. Spot the car keys: Perfect!!!!
Key in the ignition, turn it and listen to the symphony of gears and pistons rev to life. We're off.
The first 30 miles are just to warm up the tires and my senses...a few minor corners but nothing marked below a suggested 35mph. With no one in front of me I easily push through them at 60. Out of the lessor highway 129 now and onto 101 North to Gilroy. Boring, but necessary to get to the next leg.
Through Gilroy now and onto highway 152 west where the fun begins. Once I hit the mountains the corners get tighter and tighter. Turn down the radio now so I can hear the tires over the music. Roll the windows down so I can feel the wind and outside temperature....both of those affect how the drive goes. Into the first corner pushing hard, but not overly yet. It's marked at 30 and I push it at 55 listening to the tires squeal just a little...high pitch is good, but when the pitch drops it's time to stop pushing as hard. Further in the corners get tighter, and the best one on this uphill climb is marked for 15mph. I arrive at it and hit the apex at just 30...slow, but then this corner is banked badly for how sharp it is. The rest of the corners uphill are mild, but still entertaining. Then I hit the summit and smile. The next 6 miles are all 25mph switchbacks...predictable and easily maneuvered like a bobsled course. I let my mind drift off to the leg of the road I'm looking forward to driving as I follow the routine for where I'm at: brake into the corner and down shift down to 45 while I turn the wheel hard over and hold it, hit the apex and feather the gas for a second before punching it and exit at almost 60. Only 9 minutes from the summit to the straight away that marks the re-entry to Watsonville.
From there it's back up highway 1 to Soquel and onto Old San Jose Rd. Another mild piece of road much like 129, but it leads to greater things. Old Santa Cruz Rd from there, and it begins to get interesting with lots of 15mph corners peppering the winding trail through the majestic redwoods. Rounding a corner I see ahead of me my first slow car of the day. Silver...a Mercedes maybe? Round the next corner and the distance is halved...No, it's a BMW coupe. Round the next corner and brake to match the bimmer's pace. Predictably the bimmer speeds up trying to out pace what's caught it. I laugh...why is it 9 of 10 bimmers do this? The outcome is almost perfectly predictable. I stay on his bumper as his pace continues to increase. Corner 1...easy peasy: you'll have to do better if you wanna lose me, Mr. Hotshot. Corner 2, slightly faster and I can almost feel his heart begin to race as I stay planted behind him. Corner three and the pace is faster still. Are your hands sweating yet, hotshot? Corner 4...almost the same speed as the last. Here we go...next corner should be it. Sure enough, the pace is increased, but by more than he can handle and I'm still planted behind him as he swerves out of the exit, keeping control loosely. Next straight away he does what they all do: pulls over to let me by while he take a moment to clean out his pants. I chuckle, but each time I pass one that's surrendered I remember the one that didn't. It was an older BMW...early 70's prolly....small and nimble little thing that left me behind in just 1 corner on the next leg of this drive. Massively impressive.
Then comes the part I've been waiting for: Bear Creek Rd. Tight corners, many of them blind, and with narrow lanes. This is the challenge that the last 100 miles have been warming me up for. Enter into the first corner: the warning corner. It turns faster than it looks while swooping down and right. The next one is tighter, but is banked nicely and begins the uphill at it's apex. Then comes the corner that reminds me every time that this road means business. It's marked at 10mph. It pulls a u turn around a razors edge cliff face and has a 15% grade. I love this corner. Never been able to push faster than 25 through it, and rarely try to even match that speed. The next mile is full of corners similar, but easier. Then comes the downhill section. It's another predicable area and runs like a bobsled course, though this one changes up the corners in every turn.
Down to the bottom and it levels out as it enters a residential area. Here I slow to just over the posted limit of 40mph...kids play in the houses near here and I'm not about to risk them.
Into Boulder Creek now and down highway 9 into Santa Cruz and back home from there. Roughly 150 miles total in less than 3 hours.
Back home now and feeling mellow. I love how relaxing that drive is :-)