Hamilton Front and Back … or last prep before Camino Real

Rain is coming next week, but in the meantime, the weather is spectacular.  Time to take advantage of this by going for a ride.  We had a number of options … there was the DMD trainer, doing the first 100 miles of the ride, but there was also the option of doing Hamilton, front and back side.  That’s a little more local, so I decided to do that.

I was originally going to ride to the start, but my allergies were really kicking me in the ass.  Allergies also sucked some energy out of me, so I’m going to have to figure something out before my first double of the year, Camino Real, next weekend.

I eventually hooked up with Donald and Marco … although Marco was running late, very late, so Donald and I took off, with Marco meeting us at the summit.

You couldn’t ask for better weather.  I kind of felt guilty for having such great weather, while my friends on the east coast are shoveling snow off of their cars … for a split second at least.  After that, I just enjoyed the great weather.

Bird’s Eye View of San Jose. This is why we’re in California

Since we got a head start on Marco, we went at a leisure pace … well, leisure for Donald at least.  The pace was good, but was really my normal pace.  I later looked at Strava, and this was actually 2.5 minutes off my personal record.  So much for a leisure pace, right?  I wasn’t even trying to put on a good pace … in fact, I remember telling Donald that I don’t expect anything close to a PR (Personal Record).

I was able to hang in with Donald for a good majority of the climb … another indication that he was taking it easy.

Eventually, a little after passing Kinkaid, he started to pull away.  I did see one cyclist coming up behind me, but it was not Marco.  I tried as best as I could not to be overtaken by him, but he was just too strong.  He overtook me just before the 2nd to the last hairpin turn from the top.  Damn.

The one thing I wanted to make sure was I did not get passed by Marco.  He did start 40 minutes later than we did, so if he passed me, either he was in incredibly fit shape, or I was incredibly bad shape.  Luckily, that didn’t happen.

After re-grouping at the observatory (bathroom stop, re-filling water, eating …), we head down the other side of the hill.  Our ultimate destination is a bridge, about a 5-6 mile descent.  That’s 5-6 miles, with a 2,000 foot plunge.

The descent itself was a little dicey in spots.  There are a lot of switchbacks, but since this is winter season, one concern is icey roads, and to combat that, lots of sand and gravel are sprinkled on the road.  This made our descent much slower.  I don’t want a repeat of my Montebello fall, so I took it extremely conservatively, and my descent was pretty slow actually.  I guess it’s better than going down, and not riding at all.

Climbing the backside of Hamilton

We reach the bridge, and now, time for the 5 mile, 2000 foot climb.  Ugh, I’m slow.  Climbing is a very personal journey, and I didn’t mind at all that I’m slow, and I’m climbing on my own.  I actually prefer that, so that I don’t try to climb beyond my physical abilities.

The backside of Hamilton, in my opinion, is tougher than the front side.  The average grade on this side was around 10%.  The last 3 miles, for whatever reason, was especially tough.  However, when I look at the data, it’s not any steeper than the beginning of the backside climb.  Perhaps it’s a mental thing.

They have painted a mile marker on the road, so it will tell you how much further you have to go.  This can be good and bad.  Maybe I don’t want to know how far I have to go … but on the other hand, it is good to know how much further you have to go.

See those observatory domes was a welcome site.  Seeing this, I know I’m just around the corner from a slow descent back to the Mt. Hamilton visitor center.

It’s amazing to think, from these pictures, that it is February.  However, I hear that several rain storms are coming beginning Monday, so we gotta enjoy this great California weather while we still have it.  But I just have this comment … at least I don’t have to be shoveling snow off my car, just so that I can drive it somewhere.  So to all my friends who are re-locating to the east coast … and why are you moving east?  Yes, it’s a little more expensive here, but it is expensive for a reason.

For more pictures from this trip, go to http://spingineer.smugmug.com/Cycling/Hamilton-Front-and-Back/15812462_Uc2qp#1185523081_f9dc7

Totals:  49.8 miles, 7054 feet climbing.

 

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