The fastest spider in Los Angeles

0 mph - spider at rest
0 mph - spider at rest
When I bike-park near the Glendale power station this morning to do my old-man stretches, this little daddy long-legs is hanging out on the railing that lines the L.A. river.

By the time I finish lengthening my triceps and punishing my hamstrings, the spider has crawled onto my top tube.

When I hop back on to ride home, the spider stays put.

Okay, says I. Let’s go for a ride.

I start heading home slowly to see how long it will deign to hang out on the bike. Despite my rising speed, it doesn’t budget – maybe wind-instinct keeps it clinging to a hard surface until things quiet down.

O-kay, let’s see how you like cruising speed.

I kick the gears up to about 18 mph, and the only change is that the spider hunkers closer to the top tube.

20 mph
20 mph
Adventurer, hunh? Cool. Let’s go.

I push the gears up to the big ring on front and the little sprocket on back. By now I’m pedaling harder, up to 20 or so (it’s a mountain bike, so it’s not built for speed) but not yet at top speed.

I look down and the spider clutches tighter, moving up and down on the tube a bit, trying to find somewhere with less wind-flow and slippery paint.

Maybe it’s wondering if it should have jumped onto this hard blue tree, maybe it’s just thinking, “Gnats. Where the crunchy gnats at?”

Maybe it doesn’t think. It’s just an arachnid.

Okay, that’s it, let’s see what you’re made of.

I stand up on the pegs and hammer.

Pedaling as hard as I can, I get the bike up to probably 30 mph – maybe a wind-whip factor of 40, considering the backwash from semis and SUVs barreling past on the northbound 5 just 10 yards away.
I’m panting hard, and figure by now, it’s bailed to a less-scary perch on the jersey barrier or the vines nearby.


I look down and the spider is hanging tough. I can imagine its tiny mandibles flapping in the slipstream – “PPPBBBLLLEEEASE STBPBPBPOOOPPP!” but no, it’s crouched down on the the downtube behind the water bottle, its legs stretched long and low in the direction of the windblast.

Tough little beast. Click to immensify.
Tough little beast. Click to immensify.
Winded from the sprint, I sit down from the hammering stance, and cruise the rest of the way home.

When I arrive and hang my bike up, the spider’s still there, its legs tucked arrow straight from front to back, the very picture of arachnid aerodynamics.

Millions of years of evolution in Santa Ana conditions have made it the perfect survivor. Only now it’s 5 miles from where it started out, with a whole new garage full of bugs to explore.

Me, I need a shower and my legs hurt.

4 thoughts on “The fastest spider in Los Angeles”

  1. Awesome post Mack!

    I’ve occasionally encountered a strange arachnid phenomenon, usually while biking home at night. At some point I’ll catch a glint of something in front of the headlight beam and find a strand of webbing has been strung between the handlebars like a little tight rope. I’m always pretty sure it wasn’t there when I’d started the ride and I never have actually seen the source of the on-the-fly spinnings, but there they are.

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