Aptos Creek Road makes the grade

Aptos Creek Road after grading. Much smoother now.

Aptos Creek Road after grading. Much smoother now.

Today I celebrated a 20-year anniversary of dubious distinction: a head-on collision with a mountain biker bombing down Aptos Creek Fire Road in Forest of Nisene Marks state park.

It’s something I’ve written about, but it bears repeating. Bikes going fast are deadly weapons. We had a walker killed on Page Mill Road by a cyclist earlier this year. It happens.

I was lucky. I got my bell rung for about 10 minutes and rode home some 35 miles. I was even luckier because Jobst Brandt helped fix my tweaked wheel so I could ride. I was not wearing a helmet (wish I was).

The cyclist who hit me was not so lucky. He dislocated his shoulder and needed a ride out. He was wearing a helmet. He waited several hours for a ranger to arrive. The rider was nice enough to pay for my damaged parts. I hope he learned his lesson.

Today I saw one racer barreling downhill. Everyone else rode safely, including about 10 youth doing a commercial bike tour. A few mountain bikers have exceptional riding skills and can manage to avoid accidents, but most riders lack these skills. They’re yahoos and they’re the ones who crash because they ride beyond their abilities.

Here’s the good news: Aptos Creek Road, which connects Buzzard Lagoon Road and Aptos Creek Fire Road (green gate) was graded since I last rode there in May 2013.

It’s a dramatic improvement. I found a photo from 2013 that illustrates the rocky boulder field and one that may be the same location. It’s hard to tell because the grading made the road smooth, as smooth as I remember it from riding here in the early 1980s.

Dirt roads degrade over time, mostly from water erosion, and just a little from bike tires. So we should thank the government agency that went to the trouble to grade the road, whether state or county. It’s greatly appreciated.

Today’s ride was much like the one in 1995: A beautiful day with temperatures in the mid-70s and sunny skies. Only this time I didn’t get a headache.

Aptos Creek Road in May 2013, before grading.

Aptos Creek Road in May 2013, before grading.

3 Responses to “Aptos Creek Road makes the grade”

  1. Sourav Says:

    On Wed, Nov 11, I was knocked unconscious in a head-on collision with another cyclist on the bike path next to 237 between N. First and Lafayette, close to the intersection with the Guadalupe River Trail.

    I don’t remember what happened, but I was not going more than 15 mph. The big dent on the top of my helmet suggests I got thrown off the bike in a high speed collision. My last memory is seeing the road empty ahead of me (it was near the crest of an uphill grade).

    So its not just MTB riders. Paved bike paths are a problem too, and the absence of automobiles encourages cyclists to be even more careless. I’ve heard similar complains from people on the Shoreline bike paths as well.

    The bigger question is how we cyclists behave when we are the Kings of the Road. We like to complain about cars buzzing past us, but we do the same to runners and walkers on the trails.

  2. jay Says:

    Bike paths make me very nervous. I actually prefer to be out on the road with cars.

  3. Brenan Greene Says:

    Wow, I have wanted to hit this trail for quite some time now. We are heading out today for trip to Santa Cruz, then Aptos and then finally Big Sur. Definitely hitting this trail! Thanks for sharing.

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