San Francisco to Los Angeles Lightning-fast

By Gerald Pease
The Recumbent Cyclist
May/June/July 1991
Vol. 2 No. 6

On April 28, 1991, Pete Penseyres took the Lightning X-2 out for a Sunday spin, shattering the San Francisco-to-Los Angeles HPV record by more than three hours in the process and making a strong opening bid for the $5,000 John Paul Mitchell Systems’ top prize. Pete started his quad-century jaunt at about 3:30 A.M. at San Francisco City Hall and pulled into Los Angeles City Hall at 9:34 P.M., 18 hours and 4 minutes later. The Lightning X-2 was equipped for the run with a powerful Night Sun headlight, and the heavy battery had to light a taillight and turn signals as well. Riding most of the way on Interstate 5, Pete pedalled the overweight bicycle up Pacheco Pass and Tejon Pass to an altitude of 4,144 feet, seemingly effortlessly except for a slightly furrowed brow.

Pete was actually shooting for a 17 hour 45 minute time. He would have easily done this had he not fallen at a stoplight before he could get a foot down to the ground. Occuring early in the ride, the fall damaged the Kevlar fairing’s “landing gear” flaps used to put his feet down. This forced him to ride most of the distance with the doors flapping wide open in a decidedly non-aerodynamic configuration, at least for the one-time 64 m.p.h. X-2. When he fell, Pete was penalized 30 minutes for receiving assistance from a concerned onlooker — rumored to be a certain “T. B.”). The J.P.M.S. rules require total self-sufficiency for the entire 400 mile journey. Following Pete’s inspiring ride, only a first class ultramarathon rider and an extraordinary HPV will even have a shot at the prize. Still, the second fastest self-sufficient rider will take home $3,000 and the third fastest will get a consolation check of $2,000.

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