So, I was on a ride in the Santa Cruz Mountains…

… riding pillion behind a fairly inexperienced driver, who had only recently gotten their license… and a fairly large BMW.

Sorry, don’t know the model — it was over 20 years ago, and all I really remember was that it was white and new, and it was too big for the driver.

Anyway, I was on a ride with a gathering of a bunch of motorcycle clubs who had converged on a camp to hang out, party, dance, and ride. And seeing as I was working the gig with some friends of mine who were providing some of the entertainment, I was invited along for an afternoon of rolling through the Santa Cruz Mountains, and on down to the Santa Cruz boardwalk.

Amazing. What an afternoon. Just riding along, as free as anything… never mind that my driver almost got us hit a couple of times because they weren’t quite as defensive as they might have been. But what the hell. I’m still here.

Anyway, all of a sudden, I smell brakes burning. You know the smell — asbestos brake pads vaporizing under plates… white smoke coming off the back of a bike up ahead… Others smelled it, too, and then it was, Whoah there – let’s pull over.

We did, and we spent the next 20 minutes trying to figure out what was going on. Both the driver and their passenger said the bike felt weird. Not as responsive as they’d like. It was taking longer to slow down and come to a stop. They said it must be the brakes.

“It’s your brakes,” I said. My nose knows.

How-ever, as I’m not a seasoned rider, nobody actually took me seriously, because after all, what does some pedestrian/cager like me know?

In the end, it turned out okay, because the rider offloaded their passenger to another bike, and we all took it slow back to the camp. We arrived safely.

And that’s all that really matters.


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