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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    San Jose, CA
    Posts
    691

    My first ride up Mt. Hamilton

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    Like most people, I have a list of things that I'm going to do "someday." The problem is that I have a bigger list of excuses of why I'm not going to do those things NOW. The good news is that this year I've been checking off a lot of those "someday" goals. The latest goal that I've achieved is to ride my bike up Mt. Hamilton. Since I live within a mile of Mt. Hamilton Road, there are some of you who are probably saying, "Well it's about time!!"

    At 4360 feet, Mt. Hamilton is the tallest mountain overlooking the Silicon Valley. Back in 1876, construction began on the Lick Observatory, which marks the peak of Mt. Hamilton. In order to get the materials and equipment up the mountain in horse drawn carriages Mt. Hamilton Road was constructed. It's about 20 miles long, and the grade is pretty mellow. In fact, according to my Garmin 305, the grade rarely reached the double digits and pretty much stayed in the 5 - 7% range.



    As you can see, the road isn't that steep, it just keeps going up relentlessly. Also, it doesn't have a lot of shade, so you want to make sure you have plenty of water.

    There's a couple of brief reprieves from climbing -- first around mile 7 by Grant Ranch Park, where you can top off your water bottles or use the facilities.


    Pictured above is my Trek, taking a breather at Grant Ranch Park.

    The second reprieve from climbing is around mile 14. The funny part is that I didn't really think of it as a reprieve from climbing as much as something I'd have to climb on the way down the mountain.

    During the last 5 miles, the road gets narrower and twistier. And finally, when you're wondering why you're going up the never-ending hill in the middle of nowhere, you catch a glimpse of one of the observatory domes!



    Whew, almost there! Well, no. Because the road is a crazy quilt of switchbacks, you keep seeing the observatory domes, but it doesn't feel like you're getting closer to them.

    Nevertheless, if you keep pedaling, eventually you'll get there! Here it is, the Lick Observatory parking lot:


    With an average of over 200 feet elevation gain per mile traveled, this could be the hardest 20 miles I've ever done by bike.

    Fast local cyclists can reach the summit in an hour and a half or so. Let's just say that I'm not a fast cyclist: it took me about 2.5 hours to reach the top.


    Here's my bike taking a well-earned rest at the top of Mt. Hamilton. There's lots to see up at the top. Since it was a reasonably clear day, I could see Moffett Field's Hangar One (no, not the Vodka!), the Shoreline Amphitheater, downtown San Jose, the lower part of the SF Bay. The Observatory itself is amazing. I went in to top off my Camelbak, and wished I had brought a bike lock so I could have looked around inside longer. Next time!


    Looking down, you can see the last part of Mt. Hamilton Road, with its crazy quilt of switchbacks. Definitely something to keep in mind for the journey down the hill -- some of those turns are sharp!! And a lot of those turns have loose gravel on the edges!

    The descent was pretty nice. I took my time, especially since I don't know the road very well. For the most part, the road is in good shape -- they've repaved a huge section of the road, and it's as smooth as silk. Well, except for the gravel on the edges.

    Spotted while on the road: a bobcat (crossed the road in front of me while I was in Grant Ranch Park), a coyote (we interrupted his hunting expedition), some red tail hawks, a vulture, wild turkeys, and, last but not least, a pink bra with giltter and sequins in the middle of the road!
    Last edited by melissam; 07-27-2008 at 06:06 PM.
    I'll get back on the bike soon, I promise!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    San Francisco Bay Area
    Posts
    9,351
    It's about time you did that climb. Good job.

    Now what about Diablo and Tam?

    V.
    Discipline is remembering what you want.


    TandemHearts.com

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Limbo
    Posts
    8,783
    Quote Originally Posted by melissam View Post
    last but not least, a pink bra with giltter and sequins in the middle of the road!
    And you didn't take a photo of that?
    2008 Trek FX 7.2/Terry Cite X
    2009 Jamis Aurora/Brooks B-68
    2010 Trek FX 7.6 WSD/stock bontrager

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    San Jose, CA
    Posts
    691
    Quote Originally Posted by Zen View Post
    And you didn't take a photo of that?
    Zen,

    Believe you me, I WANTED to. Unfortunately, it was in a very bad place for a photo op -- no shoulder, and a blind curve.



    Quote Originally Posted by Veronica View Post
    It's about time you did that climb. Good job.

    Now what about Diablo and Tam?

    V.
    Absolutely! When the weather cools down, maybe we can have a TE climbs Diablo ride? I have to plead total ignorance about Mt. Tam, though.
    I'll get back on the bike soon, I promise!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    San Francisco Bay Area
    Posts
    9,351
    I love the views on Tam. I really should have a beach house.

    V.
    Discipline is remembering what you want.


    TandemHearts.com

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Marin County CA
    Posts
    5,958
    Well done!! Good prep for next year...



    Nice pics, too!

    Quote Originally Posted by melissam View Post
    I have to plead total ignorance about Mt. Tam, though.
    Oh you'll get plenty of Tam, don't worry about that....
    Sarah

    When it's easy, ride hard; when it's hard, ride easy.


    2011 Volagi Liscio
    2010 Pegoretti Love #3 "Manovelo"
    2011 Mercian Vincitore Special
    2003 Eddy Merckx Team SC - stolen
    2001 Colnago Ovalmaster Stars and Stripes

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Perth, Western Australia
    Posts
    5,318

    cool

    Good work MM!

    Nice to see you're joining the cooilo Californiaaaaaayayaya club

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    WA, Australia
    Posts
    3,292
    Well done Melissa!!
    I love the pics.
    The most effective way to do it, is to do it.
    Amelia Earhart

    2005 Trek 5000 road/Avocet 02 40W
    2006 Colnago C50 road/SSM Atola
    2005 SC Juliana SL mtb/WTB Laser V

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Concord, CA USA
    Posts
    1,299
    Well, it's about time! Is the "Trifecta" on your list too? -- Tam, Hamilton and Diablo in one month.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    San Jose, CA
    Posts
    463
    Congratulations! Nice report & pictures.

 

 

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