Clipping those apexes

I spent almost an entire morning this past week swirling around some of Austin’s ultra-twisty streets, including a 2.2-mile transit of Mount Bonnell Road, the very road that I, thirty-eight years ago, attacked with a bicycle in the dead of night, resulting in a personal speed record for a Schwinn 27-inch (an estimated 65 mph at one point) and the sort of adrenaline rush that would probably damn near kill me today. There’s one curve that’s posted at something like 10 mph, and — this is the scary part — there’s a good reason for it.

Back in the day, this was a lonely country road. Now it’s full of upscale residences and, during the morning anyway, actual traffic. The traffic that day wasn’t moving too fast, especially on the uphill stretches, but caution was the watchword, lest something like this happen:

I very nearly bought the farm this afternoon. Coming home from work. I was driving slowly down Wilson, which is a small twisty residential street with a couple of nearly-blind curves on it. I was going about 5 miles below the posted speed limit because of the nearly-blind curves.

There was a guy coming UP Wilson. Coming at, I would estimate, 45 mph (15 miles over the posted limit). He hit one of the blind curves and kind of “straightened” it — that is, swerved over into the middle of the road — as he came through.

Wilson is not a wide road, and on either side of it there is almost immediate forest.

When I saw the guy I didn’t have time to think — just react — and I am grateful that my reflexes are still as fast as they are. I swerved hard right, there was just enough berm, he swerved a bit when he realized OH &$*% THERE’S ANOTHER CAR THERE. He passed within about 5 inches of my driver’s side. If his mouth had been open I could have counted his teeth.

I think my mouth would have been open, and it would be producing syllables in purest Anglo-Saxon.

I’m reasonably competent in the twisty bits, and Gwendolyn’s recently-freshened suspension follows my directions faithfully; I’d like to think I have enough sense not to take my half of the road out of the middle.


1 comment

  1. McGehee »

    20 June 2008 · 9:43 am

    Mr. Speed Demon better have had a change of underwear in the car with him. Head-ons at a combined 70 mph aren’t much better than at a combined 170 mph.

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