SSL Slow Loads with ssl_required

This problem has had me stumped for three days now, and I’m really
running short on ideas. Really hope somebody else out there has some
expertise on the mysterious ways of the SSL.

I’m running a Rails 2.0.2 Mongrel cluster behind an Apache proxy, and
sometimes for some reasons that I can not understand, my SSL pages
are getting atrociously slow… like 1-3 minutes to load.

I have verified that it is not any external addresses or pages that I
include in my SSL pages, nor are there any problems with the non-SSL
pages. Also, the DNS lookup for the SSL pages is as zippy as it ought
to be.

I’ve been running my cluster with this configuration for several
months now, and the problem has only started happening in the last
week or so. There is nothing out of the ordinary with our traffic
pattern this week… though I have anecdotally observed that the
problem seems to happen most often during times of high traffic.

If you’d like to see it in action, the site is
and if you click either the “Register” or “Login” link (upper right
corner) during high traffic times, and you’re unlucky, you can see it
in action.

One of the qualities that makes this problem so hard to track down is
that there is nothing out of the ordinary in any log file. Apache
just tells me its handing the request off to Mongrel, nothing in
error.log. Mongrel tells me that it redirects the page in less than a

Your help is greatly appreciated!