In honor of all the DMD riders, we decided to ride Sierra Road, which they will all be climbing after already riding 150+ miles. Ooooh boy. Anyhow, it was just Donald and me, and I knew right away that he would be waiting for me at the top. I felt a little guilty about having him wait, but he was perfectly fine … gives him a rest while waiting for my slow butt to make it up the Category 1 hill climb. Funny, I thought it should be more of an HC … but that’s my personal opinion.
As I’m climbing this, I kept thinking of something Donald said … Sierra is just a warm up for Welch Creek. Oh lovely … and here I am struggling up Sierra. As tough as Sierra is, it’s actually pretty enjoyable, just because of the scenic views as you are climbing, overlooking all of San Jose.
Another observation is how few riders I see coming up here. All the locals here, who are into cycling, know about Sierra, and how much of a great climb this is … and yet I hardly ever see a large contingent of cyclists up here. But hey, at least I didn’t get passed by anyone.
Finally got up to the top of Sierra, and who knows how long Donald was waiting. But hey, I made it.
Now for the screaming downhill, then sharp right, and up Calaveras, before doing some rollies before hitting Welch Creek. There were a lot of cyclists out there on Calaveras, but most of them going in the opposite direction from us (we were going northbound, but everyone was going southbound). As far as we can tell, it was probably because of a club ride. Anyhow, I digress. As I mentioned with Sierra, all the locals know about Welch Creek, and eventhough there are a ton of cyclists riding on Calaveras, you can just make a right on Welch Creek, and start this epic climb. Donald and I were the only cyclists making this climb today.
Welch Creek is also pretty scenic, but doesn’t have the views that Sierra Road has. The climbing doesn’t start for about a 1/2 mile, then it starts to kick your butt. Now there are breaks in the climbing, so it is not one continuous climb. However, when the climbing continues, the grades are really tough. There were some stretches where it kicks up to 22%. I kept trying to stay on my bike, but the only way I could do that, without falling over, was to tack the hill. However, some stretches of Welch Creek is pretty narrow, so there is not much room to tack there.
About 3 miles up the climb, I am soooo ready to have the climb be over with. I was going so slow, I was thinking I might fall over … but my speed kept registering 3-4 mph, so that was good. At least I still have the leg strength to still turn the crank. Finally, I see Donald sitting on the hill, but not at the summit. About a 1/4 mile later and I reach the top, where the road dead ends. Kind of anti-climactic, after all the pain and suffrage climbing this friggin hill.
This really took a lot out of me, and hopefully with the long downhill descent, my legs can recover.
We stopped off at a cafe in Sunol for a quick bite to eat. The bearclaw felt good, but it wasn’t really something that was going to wake my senses to another level. The only bad thing is the cafe didn’t have any energy drinks, like Gatorade, or anything like that. We had to resort to coke. That kind of left Donald light headed, and gave me a little woozy tummy. Oh well … that’s the carbonation getting to us. I guess it might have been better just to have coffee.
Next up is head north on Foothill, over to Dublin Canyon, then to Palomares. What sucked here … no pun intended … was the headwind. This easily had me distanced, as Donald was much better at slicing through the headwinds than I am. It seemed like no matter where we went, the headwinds followed us. My legs were already a little lifeless, so adding the headwinds is just more punishment. I guess I’d just have to suffer, and try to survive till we get to Palomares.
The climb on Palomares is really not that bad. I think southbound, is actually a little easier than going northbound. I say this now … one of these days, I’m going to eat those words.
All in all, not a bad ride. At least I finally did Welch Creek. I still think Sierra Road is a little tougher, but I would guess the two of them are very close in difficulty. But then again, you’re talking about a guy who is not a natural hill climber.
Total stats: 76 miles, 6580 feet climbing
For those Strava enthusiasts, I did upload my data to Strava. You can see that at http://www.strava.com/rides/93396