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Posts Tagged ‘pasadena’

I like driving fast. And no urban freeway rewards the skilled, fast driver more than the historic Pasadena freeway, the  section of the 110 north of downtown LA .

In many ways, the Pasadena Freeway is an anomaly. The oldest freeway in the US, it connects the business district of Los Angeles to the city of Pasadena. It is a narrow, winding 8 miles long stretch of concrete road with several features to strike fear into the heart of the novice driver. The lanes are narrower than usual, the curves unrelentingly sharp and the traffic always heavy. The exits have a 5 mile speed limit, the entrances have stop signs and neither have any acceleration or deceleration lanes. The maximum speed limit is 55 miles per hour, yet traffic on the faster lane often goes at 80. Every aspect of the design of this freeway is outdated: the curves are underbanked and designed for traffic no faster than 40, the shoulder nonexistent. And fierce lane changes are the norm.

All of which makes it the most fun urban freeway to drive in probably all of US. Going fast on empty interstates is a joke; you just have to press the accelerator. To drive fast on the 110 safely requires real skill. I need to take the 110 two to three times on most weeks and I know it like the back of my hand. And oh, what a joy it is to pass those fancy convertibles and sports cars everytime: me in my ancient Corolla, veering smoothly from lane to lane, passing all those drivers many of whom are clearly out of their league and just want to get out of there, feeling the g-forces on my body as I conquer those curves at speeds that are about thirty miles faster than the recommended one yet not so fast as to make me lose control in any manner. My driving skills are one of those things I take pride in and the 110 is an arena where it is amply rewarded.

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It’s a brilliant morning. The air is cool and fresh, the sunshine abundant and there’s not a cloud in the sky. I sit on a metal chair outside Corner Bakery sipping my coffee. 

The road is full of colourful kids. It’s the annual parade day. They walk, they smile, some wobble along on their tiny bikes wearing their impossibly cute red helmets. The proud mothers and the enthusiastic drummers follow. I eat my breakfast, watching happiness and listening to the sound of drums and twinkling bells. Occasionally I read the mathematical paper I have brought along. I am struck by a sudden urge to extol, to write about this. But the air is magical, the beauty exquisite and I cannot make myself get up. There is too much love and freshness around. I sit there smiling, musing, dreaming – what?

Oh outdoor cafes, I love you so!

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