Henry Coe Kicked My Butt

When you think of all the major climbs in the Bay Area, you immediately think of Mt. Diablo, Mt. Hamilton, Mt. Tam, Old La Honda, King’s Mountain … but I seriously think the climb to Henry Coe should be added to this discussion.  Henry Coe State Park is just outside of Morgan Hill, and it is a long climb (about 10 miles, according to the sign).

On this ride, as with most Wrecking Crew rides, we tweet each other to organize a ride.  Everyone was planning on riding to the start, even though the start of the ride is at least 20 miles away from most people.  As it turned out, only myself and Ben rode to the start.

I was going to ride with Chris (aka fudgy) to the start, but he caught the bug (a cold).  That’s really too bad, because it was his birthday on this day.  Oh by the way, happy birthday Chris … but what a day to spend your birthday, in bed.

Anyhow, I met Ben in Los Gatos, and then we rode off to meet the rest of the gang.  It actually surprised me how close I am to Los Gatos … it only took me about 35 minutes to get there … something to note for future rides.

We got to the start before anyone else did.  But then again, we did make pretty good time … got there about 10 minutes before the actual start time.  Other than Ben, I already had 22 miles in before anyone else got on the road.

It rained pretty steady last night, so the roads were still a little damp.  Despite this, we did pretty well to survive with minimal amount of flats.  Ben got one after we turned off of Uvas Road onto Oak Glen Road.  On a slightly off topic, don’t you think Uvas is a strange name for a street?  Sounds a lot like a body part.  “Hey, wanna see my Uvas?”

We continued on some fairly flat roads (comparatively speaking, of course).  We ended up somewhere between Morgan Hill and Gilroy, and Ben took us through some detour through some short but steep climbs through some mansion type homes.  I think someone mentioned this was a private road.  I guess we were lucky no one told us to get off their private roads.

Like I said, these were steep … stupidly steep roads.  I think we learned our lesson … when Ben says, we are going through a short loop, with some extra climbing, beware …. be prepared to get down into your granny gear, and suffer the pain.  These were 16-18% climbs.  And we still have Henry Coe to climb!  The descent was almost as hairy … steep descents, and sharp turns … that makes for a very interesting downhill … and to keep on your toes.

After a quick stop at Concept Cyclery (a Specialized Concept Store), we head out to climb Henry Coe.  We were all still recovering from previous climbs.  As we entered one of the roads to Henry Coe, it mentions the entrance as being 10 miles.  Oh boy, so I’m up for a 10 mile climb!

Almost immediately, my climbing pace lagged far behind, in comparison to everyone else’s climbing.  But that was expected.  On most sustained climbs, there are steep sections, but there are also some gradual sections.  But on this climb, the gradual section seemed to be ~ 10% grades, so there was not much relief doing the climbs.  It just seemed like it was 10 miles of sustained hard climbing.  And after a while, this started to psychological play in my mind.  There were a few sections on the climb that were in the 18-20% range, and it was for a fairly good stretch.  Some people don’t like to know how long the climb is, but I do.  This way, I could gage how much more climbing I need to do.  I need to know this.  This kind of help my psyche a little bit.  At least I had the knowledge the end is near.

It got to a point where I was not naturally pedaling, but I had to verbally tell myself to turn the damn crank.  I had to concentrate hard on cycling, which may be due in part to fatigue.  I realized this, and I just had to stop, chow down on a banana, and just rest for about a minute or two.

This did help, but I still struggled getting up the hill.  The closer I got to the top, the closer I saw some very threatening skies.  Dark very gray-ish clouds were hovering in the distance.  I was just hoping that it would stay dry.

Near the top, I see Ramon heading down the hill, and then later, I see Donald heading down the hill.  I figure it was getting cold up there, and if they stay too long, they will get too cold.  I’d meet them later after I finish reaching the top.

Got up to the top, and I stayed dry.  Elevation level … 2697 feet.  It’s not as high as Mt. Diablo, but it might be a tougher climb than Mt. Diablo … but that can be open for debate.  I didn’t want to stay up on top too long, in case those dark clouds turned into rain, and second, so that Ramon and Donald wouldn’t be waiting too long at the bottom of the hill.

The return wasn’t all down hill … there were some bumps (e.g. small climbs).  These are similar to Mt. Hamilton, but these bumps were bigger than on Mt. Hamilton, and they were very annoying.  In fact, a few of them were about 16%.

We got back to Concept Cyclery, had lunch at the cafe next door, then returned back via the bike path.  I decided I was not going to ride all the way back, and entertained the idea of taking VTA back home.  Ramon did offer to give me a lift back home … thanks Ramon!  With this, I still got my second century of Janurary in.  I got 100.3 miles, and 6209 feet of climbing.

Here’s to another epic ride in the books … we just don’t know how to do a painless ride.


Pictures at http://spingineer.smugmug.com/Cycling/Henry-Coe-Climb/11097820_Mbosj#777208611_RVYLe

2 thoughts on “Henry Coe Kicked My Butt

  1. Pete

    I’ve done that climb 3 times (Tierra Bella) and that last steep section is a real kick in the ass! It’s nice in the spring when all the wild flowers are blooming.
    Sounds like you’re going to be in pretty good shape to kick off the century season.


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