I’m all excited about riding with my pals in So Cal on Grand Tour. It’ll be Steve’s 100th double century … it’s gonna be a party on wheels! So with one week before the Grand Tour, I need one last epic ride, then a week for recovery. My friend Richard hasn’t done Hamilton, so I invited to do not just once, but twice, doing both sides of it.
Weather was reporting heavy fog along the coast, and Brentley even saw heavy fog in Oakland … but not here. Still, I carried my windbreaker in my pocket, just in case.
I met them up at the school, and I rode over, through beautiful downtown San Jose. It’s not as bad as you think, but it definitely is not pretty. It’s just the most direct route I could find, and most importantly, flat! There were some stiff headwinds over, but once I got to the east side, it wasn’t so bad.
On our climb, Richard darts way up front, and his pace is definitely higher than mine. Brentley and I were at a comparable pace, so we got in a comfortable rhythm. The day was absolutely gorgeous. Blue skies, and not even a hint of fog. It wasn’t too hot, so that made the ride even more pleasant.
Brentley and I stayed together till about 4 miles from the top. I slowly inched away ahead, but as is always the case, my climbing definitely slowed down 2 miles from the top. The climb itself is not bad (average from 5-7% in most spots), but doing this for 19 miles straight, it does take its toll on you. Eventually, Brentley passed me, just before reaching the top. I made it up in 2:10 … not my best, but then again, I wasn’t shooting for any personal records.
Brentley went back down, while Richard and I continued down the backside, down to the creek bridge. We then climbed up, 5.5 miles back up to the top. This is definitely a lot tougher climb (although it is with after 4000 feet of climbing). If having 10-12% climbs for 5.5 miles isn’t bad enough, the sun was shining, and there is absolutely no shade to protect you against. Oh yes, there are plenty of trees, but no shadow to duck under. Not sure what it was about today, but I just could not generate any power, and could not turn the crank. I ended up stopping at least 5 times on the backside climb. The other thing is, I didn’t fill my perpetuem bottle (only filled up my water bottle). I’m not going to make that as an excuse, but it’s just food for thought.
There some cyclists descending the backside (presumably to Livermore or Mines Road), but not too many. I didn’t see anyone pass me. Not only was it a hard climb, it was lonely … no one out there at all, with the exception for a few motorcycles and a few cars.
I finally get back up to the top. I made it in 1:13, with about 10 minutes of rest stop. Even if I didn’t have those rests, it still wouldn’t have been near my PB.
Richard was there waiting, and I just told him to go back down … I went ahead and climbed back up to the visitor’s center, for a much needed coke, and air conditioned room.