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Routes:
Blasting down 2222?

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Phil Hallmark asks on 6/7/01:

How should I get home from my job at 620 & 2222 to the Far West/Mesa area? The obvious answer is to coast down 2222 at 70mph... I'll get home real quick, or not at all! Another option is to wind back thru Riverplace and end up on City Park Road (new roads connect them). I need advice! Is coasting down 2222 as dangerous as I think it is? When you answer, please let me know your testosterone level. If your goal in life to mimic the "Do The Dew" guys, then I would like to know that before you tell me to go ahead and coast down that baby. I'm a chicken with a wife and kid, and an anemic life insurance policy.


Bob Farr:

Alright Phil, I'm 46 years old and have survived so far. Yes, I've been known to take risks in search of entertainment. I've also done that 2222 downhill and would like to state for the record that it's not a 70mph downhill. I only got up to 65mph and I was in a full aerodynamic tuck. I'm sure if you sat up you'd peak out at 55mph or so.
 
Note that I did this on my carefully prepared skinny-tire fast bike. Doing this route as a commuter, with a back pack and commuting bike that tends to get neglected, it doesn't sound like a great idea. At 45mph+ things like a rock in the road, a flat tire, or a broken spoke can be very serious problems. It also demands all of your concentration. If you think you might not be up to it, then you probably aren't.
 
Then again, this is what brakes are for. There's no rule against preemptive braking to keep your speed under 35mph. What an exhilarating way to finish off a day at the office!
 
I don't know the area well at all but it strikes me as very hostile to bikes. I'd be more concerned about the traffic on the highway (shoulder or no shoulder) than excessive speed. Good luck.

David Prater:

I've taken that hill a few times and don't find it as scary, or fast, as it looks. Seems like there's always a head wind blowing through the road cut, and with sparing use of brakes I can hold about 45 mph. I've hit higher speeds on 360 going north down the hill to the Lake Austin bridge. I'd be more worried about the lack of shoulders and rough texture of the road surface. It's had a oil and gravel top coat, and if you loose it your gonna skin yourself alive. There's little or no loose gravel, however. Even if you coast the entire length without touching the brakes I don't think you'll hit more than 55 mph. My advice is to go ahead and give it a try.

Wayne Simoneau:

The "Tumbleweed Hill", as long time Austinites refer to it, isn't really that dramatic (unless you're climbing it!). I haven't been on it since last year, but the surface was smooth. If they've chip-sealed the damn thing then I'd consider an alternate route. I've managed to get 59 mph on it with great tires and great brakes. You can keep your speed under 30 by braking, but you have to work at it. You have to be smooth & concentrate on your braking, the road surface, & all the other stuff. Take the whole lane on the downhill, the run-out has a good shoulder. I'm a bit of a risk-taker (done stuff like climb Denali), but you can certainly enjoy this ride home just using a little control. You can control some of the variables - wheels, brakes, tires, tubes - make sure they're up to the task (the entire bike, really) . If you did crash, you certainly wouldn't want it to be from going cheap on tires or tubes or maintenance on, say, spoke nipples! When it's smooth, that's a fun hill!

Two years later, once Phil got some experience with biking down the mountain, he wrote back to offer this advice:

, 9-03

I offer this unsolicited advice for those who may on occasion find it useful to go east from the mountaintop (west RM2222 near 620), down  to the "urban cycling zone".
 
There's really no way around the fact that this little commute just sucks. I'm not sure how dangerous it in fact is, but it feels VERY dangerous to me and thus adds to my stress and makes it too easy to find an excuse and just hop in the car in the morning, especially in the winter when it's dark out. There are 2 trouble spots:
 
1) Getting down the mountain (heading east): Wait at the top on the "shoulder" (a wide concrete culvert), looking back until the big lump of traffic passes by. There are traffic lights west that create holes in the eastbound traffic. Once you're calibrated to this, you can pretty easily time it so that you can blast all the way down the hill and get to the wide shoulder before the next lump of traffic overtakes you - you've got the hill to yourself. The first few times, just sit up there and take your time, observing a few traffic cycles. When I first started doing this new commute a couple of years ago I just went down with the traffic and never felt comfortable. I tried it both ways (taking up the entire right lane and pissing them off or staying right against the guardrail and letting the 80mph cars pass). Believe me, neither method rates an "A" on the comfort scale.
 
2) Getting off of 2222 and into the safe haven of surface streets in the North Cat Mountain 'hood (this neighborhood will take you to Far West which will take you to all wonderful urban cycling facilities east): this 'hood is accessed via Lakewood Dr which is just east of 360 on 2222 (right after the Bull Creek bridge on 2222). It's a left turn. Don't even try it. I used to do this but it's not protected and you're just sitting still on 2222 waiting for westbound traffic to clear while the bozos roar up behind you: Will they see me this time??? Who knows!! Just stay to the right and quickly go over the little Bull Creek bridge then turn right into the Fire Station driveway which is at most 0.1 miles further east past the bridge (right before the County Line BBQ). Once there you can just wait til there's a hole and turn back left onto 2222 and then Lakewood is a right turn 0.1 miles away. There's always a hole. Voila! Stressfree trip down the mountain (or at least as stressfree as it's gonna get).
 
Disclaimer 1: getting from N. Cat Mt. up to the top of Far West Blvd is a VERY steep uphill.
Disclaimer 2: this is my evening commute home. Not sure how the traffic dynamics work at other times.
 
 
If any of this is out of whack with known safety practices, or if anyone has a better way, please let me know. As I get older I'm more interested in keeping my noggin' in one piece than I am in militantly expressing my rights on the suburban roadways.
 


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Cheapest Airfare

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Battery Guide

Which battery is best? We cover rechargeable and alkaline batteries to show you what's hot, what's not, and the best way to charge them. (visit now)

Ben Folds Five

The rise and breakup of the world's greatest piano pop band.

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Saving Electricity

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Save Electricity

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