That 45 mph speed limit was there like a dare, taunting my union with the machine. It pointed and laughed like the bully in the lunchroom. We accepted the challenge and met it in the lot after school.
The sun rose slowly over the mountains turning the gray mist into a warm orange glow, as it got lighter the fog on the mountain lifted and the fog in my brain dissolved as well. We approached the first miles of the gauntlet with caution and quickly decided to go to war. I was awake in many ways.
We had the BBC Sessions of Led Zeppelin keeping time and singing about magic. Just enough magic and rhythm to stir up my childhood recollections of the ghost stories in these mountains. With the thoughts of sleepless dead in the trees and in the back of my mind I pressed on. I pressed the gas and forced the mass of the car into battle. Brake in, gas out. Hands at ten and two. We can feel the pavement sending signals. We signal back with rubber and velocity.
Sometimes the road wins and other times we are victorious. The mountains do not yield and continue to close out the light of the sun as we descend into the valleys. We press the gas harder and twist the wheel into the turns only to find another turn and steep downward path, one side is a shear cliff the other a very high wall, two highway lanes wide but really just painted lines keeping us in check. Quick taps on the brakes and a subtle press on the gas are all that’s needed to keep momentum. Eyes forward just enough to calculate the next adjustments. Finally at the lowest point we must go up. Hammer of the Gods, indeed.
We are far enough off the grid now to lose FM radio, all we get is the hiss of dead air and the road noise. On one hand it’s zen inducing and fuels my focus, on the other, it is the great mountain telling us we are his and it’s just us now.
The battle between us continued upward. We fight for the light and the steady attack bore fruit, we breached the top and the shadows of the mountains gave way to a more brilliant hue. The skies became visible and on both sides the only way was down. Down again, gravity our engine, rubber our safety. That 45 mph speed limit was broken, we laughed and pointed like bullies in the lunchroom.