Tossing and Tortured 'Till Dawn

I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

The underestimated speed of pedal power

It’s a two-lane, winding road, and I pull to a stop in front of the construction flagger. I’ll admit it; it there were room, I’d simply go around, but there’s no sidewalk or shoulder, and it looks like they’ve got quite a bit of heavy machinery. It’s a gray day, misty but not rainy, and I pull of my lenses to wipe the fog from them.

The flagger, a heavyset guy in his forties with a full, wavy beard, glances at my bicycle. “This might nawt be the best roawd for you at this time o’day,” he explains, “gets pretty busy.”

I smirk slightly. “I’ll be all right.”

“Mmm. Hey, you just come from the top o’that hill?” The flagger asks, pointing to the other side of the canyon.

“Uh, Lakeside Parkway, yeah,”

“Cars go pretty fast down that one.” It’s a steep 1-mile section, about 10% slope, with signs cautioning trucks to use their compression brakes and low gears. Speed limit’s 45 miles an hour.

I laugh, click my speedometer, which records the highest speed I’d hit in a trip. I do frequently surprise motorists who think they’re going to swing around and pass me. “So do I. 54 just now.”

Flagger whistles, chuckles, beneath his beard and hardhad. “Fifty-four mile an hour? You? Man! But how fast you gonna go up this one, five?” He’s still blocking the way to a road called Jovita. It’s only about a four percent slope, but I’m sure he thinks that’s steep, because he adds “Haw, haw,” to the end of it. His radio crackles, a woman’s voice telling him it’s clear.

”Well-ll, I’ll give you a little head start ‘fore I let these cars go. She’s just about quarter mile up the road ‘round the bend,” he tells me.

I smirk again, click into my pedals, and take off probably a little faster than I ordinarily would have own.

Up the mile and a half-long hill, I go more like fifteen miles an hour. Yeah, for a car that’s not so quick. But when people expect you to be going five, it’s flying.


  • At 1:02 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Dude, 54 mph? I can't even make it past 32! Anyway, I like reading your blog, it's good shit. See you on



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