Carmaggeddon Day 13: Street racin’

I had to run some errands. So I got on my bike and bombed down the hill. The cars were fine except for a guy in a Rage Rover who passed a bit too close.

Hawthorne was clotted with cars, but except for a couple of sections the lanes are so narrow that you can easily take the entire right lane and no one cares. There is no “as far to the right as practicable,” i.e. it’s impossible to share the lane with a car. So it’s yours.

Nor did I shoot up the side to the red lights and aggravate people, but rather waited in line like the cars. No one honked. I could have slotted over to Anza where there is a “bike lane,” but having the entire car lane to myself was a far superior bike lane and it is good education for the cagers, too, having them see a bike out on the big, busy street just like them.

At Sepulveda there was a gutter bunny waiting for the light. He was riding a mid-90’s Specialized Stump Jumper. The chain was deep rust red stuck in the big ring and I could tell the derailleur didn’t work. He was wearing big black work boots, a backpack, thick gloves, and a helmet. He glanced at me and didn’t like me, or maybe he thought, “Another one I’m going to have to eat.”

The light turned green and he stomped on it. He didn’t have a ton of acceleration but he wasn’t slow by any means. I wasn’t going to get into a pissing contest so I let him hammer away. He alternated between the gutter and the sidewalk. I caught him at the next light, which he didn’t like much. I didn’t have anything to prove.

He came hot off the line again, this time working it. I saw the sinews in his arms strain as he pulled the bars. He even got out of the saddle. He really didn’t want to be anywhere near me.

I caught him at the next light. Hawthorne rises slightly all the way past Del Amo, after which it goes downhill. He was pissed now. He was obviously accustomed to these accelerations getting rid of the dilettantes but there I was, all #fakehipster, catching him at the lights.

At Torrance I decided to take the bait because cyclist. This time it was me who stomped off the line and I left him. I caught the look on his face out of the corner of my eye and he was surprised but not defeated. Pretty soon I heard his tires whining. He was rolling at the speed of thunder. I pretended not to even be pedaling but had to lean into it as hard as I could to pull away. We caught a couple of greens and I hit the downhill past the little mall past Del Amo and was gone

Until he caught me again at the freeway, a couple of miles later.

We were both sopping wet. He was breathing hard. The cars had kind of been watching because we’d been going only slightly slower than they were.

At the freeway I hit it. I had a ways to go before I got to Rosecrans and I was fried. It was now all mental; I could drop him but I couldn’t put him away.

Up ahead I saw the left hand signal at Rosecrans. It was green. I laid into it. He wasn’t too far behind. Had to make it look like I was casually going 32. Swooped through the light and he went straight. Beat him by about a hundred feet.

Glad I didn’t have anything to prove.

END


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12 thoughts on “Carmaggeddon Day 13: Street racin’”

  1. Tim Joe Comstock

    Anytime two sailboats are in sight of each other it’s on. Cycling seems to be the same. As far as other cyclists go, I usually try to drop /ditch them because I don’t want to get caught up in their granfalloon. Cagers have a hard enough time dealing with one cyclist in their reality. Two of us constitute a peloton pestilence and anything can happen.

    I gotta say I have a hard time believing you couldn’t lose Krusty. Traffic? Benevolence? You, benevolent?

    1. Well, I kinda stopped for a while cuz it was kinda fun to have a battle mate, and Krusty was game …

  2. Cat 6 racin’! A cool 32!

    IN A different universe you just say good morning at the first light. But racin’ cyclists.

  3. Good thing Shirtless Keith doesn’t ride down Hawthorne! Congrats on the V & you are riding your bike like most people drive their cars minus the swearing & yelling. #winning

    1. Hahaha! SK would have put the wood to me, I’m afraid. Can’t yell when you’re panting. At least not audibly.

  4. There is nothing special about Hawthorne having traffic lanes that are too narrow for a cyclist to share with a motorists. That’s the case for almost all traffic lanes anywhere, so that cycling “as far right as practicable” does not apply. See https://cyclingsavvy.org/cvc21202/.

    But I’ve also found that controlling lanes that are obviously too narrow to share, even to otherwise close-passing motorists, is less likely to lead to motorist harassment.

  5. On the Haw descent, even where the lane is wide enough for a cyclist to avoid the traffic lane, the gutter lane is littered with gravel. Yikes.

  6. When I see “cyclist” like the one you describe, I wonder how fast would they be with a lighter, well oiled machine, and some training.

    I had a similar situation, when I spotted a cyclist far into the distance. I thought to myself, I’m going to catch that guy! 15 minutes of hard work, I finally catch him, he appears homeless, on a rusty single speed bicycle, stopping to pick up cans. Very humbling, but if we had a rematch, I would blow him away

  7. As Bugs Bunny would say, “Ehhh… what a maroon!”

    I can quote Bugs with authority, because I probably would have been fake racing that guy, too.

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