The “over-the- hill” expression can have so many connotations.
But if you live in the 209 its likely referring to people who commute via the Altamont Pass to higher paying jobs in the Bay Area while enjoying a better cost of living experience in Manteca, Tracy, Lathrop, and Ripon.
The traffic on the connecting freeway can be horrendous unless you are driving against the commute. The Easter Sunday weekend was no exception with many pedals to the metal of the cars and trucks on the road going to grandma’s house. The backup of cars coming into the Northern San Joaquin Valley through Tracy was unbelieveable while those westbound were pretty sparse in comparison.
It was quite an experience for me driving westbound toward our daughter’s home in Morgan Hill when I reached the downside of the Altamont Pass connector. Driving in the number one lane in fairly heavy four lane traffic, the roar of two motorcycles caught my attention. As the first one passed me at an estimated 95 miles an hour, splitting the number one and number two lanes, the motorcyclist clipped my front side panel and bumper area – tearing it apart.
It looked like the rider was going down under my front wheels as he waffled on his bike but he was able to stabilize his Harley and remain upright. There was an immediate relief as it looked like he was going to go under my front wheels. As he cleared the side of my car, the second bike cleared my vehicle and the one next to me in the number two lane without making contact.
Traffic was moving fairly fast at about 75 miles an hour as these two roared away. The first rider stood above his seat as he rode off turning back and looking at me as he waved a middle finger high in the air cutting across the second and third lanes with his pal close behind.
These guys were wearing black leather vests with a picture of a single white head emblazoned on the back. A short time later two more of the group wearing the same colors sped by in the number one lane – riding with some concern for others on the freeway. I guess they had a scheduled gathering somewhere in the Bay Area.
Wished I’d had a video security camera on my windshield to catch the action as it evolved. A photographer friend in a nearby community has installed such a camera and within a short time captured a near miss in front of his vehicle with an SUV spinning out of control and ending up in the center divider of 580.
I’ll never forget driving down Highway 99 at Christmas time a number of years ago when a vehicle that was passing me had its driver hit his brakes and spin around in the number one and number two lanes. He hit no one as he came to a brief stop and gunned it back down the freeway and passing me as though nothing had happened.
When I worked as a general assignment reporter for the San Bernardino Sun-Telegram, I commuted nearly 50 miles from our home in Victorville. An occasional snow storm dusted the freeway and its off ramps with white powder that motorists did not expect. I will never forget getting on an off ramp coming home at 1 a.m. when the car just wanted to slide sideways toward the shoulder with no way to stop it from going into a ditch.
Ah, the joys of driving – never quite know what to expect like those roaring bikers.