My friend Karen was up here visiting her folks, and she heard a lot of good things about the Metcalf climb. I figured I could lead her on this ride, and while we are at it, might as well attack Quimby as well. Karen is a really strong climber, and I figured she’d love climbing both.
The challenge was designing the route. Sure, the route to Metcalf, and over to Quimby was not too bad, but I had the route go from Quimby, down Mt. Hamilton, then over to Alum Rock. Now how will we get from Alum Rock back to the cars? So this was really two different rides … the first was nice scenic, good climbs, the second was flat, urban riding, with tons of car traffic. I’m not looking forward to that part of the ride.
We started from Lake Alamaden Park, which is a couple miles from where Karen stayed. This is so Karen wouldn’t have to worry about driving to unfamiliar territory … she’ll just have to follow me through unfamiliar territory instead. The ride went out on Almaden Expressway, en route through McKean. The traffic is not bad on Almaden, because it has nice wide bike lanes.
McKean is a nice road, which is lightly traveled by cars. It’s like an old country road, and it’s a nice fairly flat road to warm up the legs. We had a nice screaming descent down Bailey, which took us through more country roads, before we hit Metcalf.
Okay, enough teasing, time for some real climbing. There was no doubt about this climb, as when we first approach it, we can see the road go vertical. This is where I told Karen “meet you at the top, by the motocross entrance”. This is where I see her pinkness forge on ahead of me. This is normal, Karen usually drops a lot of guys on climbs like this. Oh, BTW, did I mention she’s a strong climber?
It took a little while to just get into a rhythm, but once there, it wasn’t too bad. Still, Karen was way too far ahead of me to reel her in, so just gotta keep within my pace. I did stop once to take a couple of pics, but otherwise, I kept on going.
There is a motorcycle park at the top, and it’s interesting to see cars towing dirt motorcycles up this hill, just to ride in the park. I kept thinking, why not just ride the motorcycle up the hill, instead of towing it on a car? Maybe it’s just the environmentalist in me. Anyhow, it was nice to hear the sound of motorcycles from the park, because I knew the summit was near.
All smiles at the summit. It turns out I got a PR out of that, by 3 minutes. Wow, funny how you’d get PR’s without even trying, and when you do try, your performance sucks.
Ok, now time for the descent down Metcalf, to San Felipe, and onto Quimby. Actually, the descent was nice, with hardly any car traffic at all. We had a few short bumps along the way, but otherwise, it was downhill, and flat until we made the right turn onto Quimby.
Having already done this last week, I didn’t feel the need to record another video. Once again, Karen charged up ahead of me. It was a little more difficult this time, because I didn’t have a large group of riders to help pace me up, and I had to stop a few times. There were some really tough 20% stretches here. It was just relentlessly tough, especially those two quick switchbacks.
Now that we made it to the summit, there was the issue of getting back to the cars. We could either go straight back down Quimby, or continue down Mt. Hamilton. I figured we would have a tough time traffic wise regardless of which way we go, so we went down Quimby, and took Mt. Hamilton down. Beside, descending Mt. Hamilton is just so much fun.
The way back, we headed down White, and some parts of it were not bike friendly. There was still riding room, but no bike lanes, until we got a little further south. Riding through here reminded me a little like riding through parts of Montebello and East LA. This was not the hard part … the hard part was going through Capitol Expressway. There was one section where they closed off two lanes, and we were able to take up the closed lane, until the part where they were doing the repavement. Then, we got to the 101 overpass, and no room for a bike to cross on. With the heavy traffic, crossing on Capitol was not an option. We had to re-route, going south to hit Yerba Buena, then over. At least this way, we didn’t have cross over 101, but under. We eventually got back onto Capitol.
We went back through Guadalupe Bike Trail, which was nice. Most importantly, we averted the expressways, and we eventually got back to the park via bike trails. This was a nice way back, but hell of a way to get here.
It was a great ride, and with great company. Thanks Karen for the company, and glad you had a great time too. Next time, I’ll have to find a good way to get from Alum Rock to Almaden Lake.
Here’s the strava link: http://app.strava.com/rides/25600409#