Tag Archives: Montebello

This is Why I Am a Morning Person

Recently, I had one of those nights where I woke up in the middle of the night (1 am) and could not go back to sleep. I went to sleep, only to wake up again at 3:30. I did the same thing and woke up again at 4:30. I just couldn’t go back to sleep.

Oh screw it. I have fully charged lights, so I went into my cycling clothes, and went for a ride … at 5:15 am.

One of my favorite night spots is the Mary Ave bridge (although it probably has some more official name to it).  I wanted it to be dark, just so I can take this picture.


Mary Ave. Bridge (at least that’s what it says on Google Maps)

Off I went to climb Montebello Road. It’s so peaceful this time of day, as hardly anyone is out on the road. I was passed by 3 cars, and that was it. There was something about riding on a crisp morning, and I felt like I was climbing it pretty good (even though I didn’t get a PR out of it).

One of the main reasons for me to get out here was to see the views, and they were awesome.  No matter which angle I took, I couldn’t quite capture the beauty, and enormity of being up before sunrise … so peaceful


View from Montebello Road, just passed Montebello School

As I continued climbing, sunrise came, and that just made the climb even better. I was the only one climbing Montebello at this hour. Where’s everyone? What’s the issue … are you sleeping? Oh, wait, I guess you are.


Good morning from the top of Montebello, Vidovich Vineyards

As I descended down the hill, I saw a bunch of riders climbing. I guess I was an hour earlier than everyone wanted to start. Yes, I am a morning person!

Yes, I Still Ride my Triple

You don’t find many LBS carrying triple chainrings, with the thought that a compact double has the gearing enough for any rides. Well, for the Bay Area, that may be fine for fit racers, but for us average weekend riders, who love to climb hills, the triple is a much needed weapon.

Take for example my last ride. Al and I decided to go on this epically hard ride on President’s Day holiday. The highlight of the ride was a ride up Bohlman, Norton, Kittridge, Quickert, then On Orbit. Now this was epic. However, to prepare for these climbs, a little warm up is really needed. So I kicked it off with a little climb up Montebello Road, which in itself, is no slouch either. It’s 5.1 miles, with about 2000 feet of climbing.

It started out frigidly cold, so we started fairly late, 9:30 am … it was still about 45 F at the start. It was windy, cold, and the temperature didn’t really warm up. The sun was out, but don’t let that fool you. We definitely needed to bundle up.

It’s a bad sign when you start the ride, and you ride into a headwind. Usually, the winds around Sunnyvale are fairly calm, but not this day. After doing a few local short hills around Rancho San Antonio Park, the wind calmed down considerably. It also gave us a chance to warm up a little bit. However, the wind and the cold was concerning, and I was even thinking about bailing on some of the climbs, but look at this … blue skies all around. We were thinking if it gets too windy, and too cold, we could shorten the climb to the Montebello school, which is halfway up, but the wind and cold actually calmed down on the mountain. I’ll say that again … it’s windy and cold in the valley, but calm, and a little warmer in the mountains, with higher elevation. That’s backwards!

We got to the top, with no issues. I for one was not pushing too hard on this climb, knowing what we have to come later. I’ve been averaging between 51 to 55 minutes on this climb, and today, we came in at 53 minutes. I guess I’m still in shape. The view was spectacular today, and it was very clear. And there was no wind evident up at the top.

Descending Montebello was cold … frigidly cold. So there were two trains of thought for the descent … get off the mountain as fast as you can, but then the faster you go, the colder you’d get. For me, I decided to go slowly, because once you get into the shady sections of the descent, the temps drop. The low on my Garmin showed 34 F, and I think that was during our descent. We just needed to get to any place where there was sun, so we saw a sunny spot, and just sat there, soaking in the rays, while our body temperature warmed up.

We were originally going to climb up Redwood Gulch, but that would mean we would have to go into Stevens Canyon, and the temperature would drop going there … uh … no! Up Mt. Eden we go, and adding in a few short, steep hills, like Teerlink, Saratoga Summit … nice 16% grades, to warm the body up.

Ok, now for the big climb. I always get a kick out of this climb, as it passes by a cemetery at the base of the climb. Is that a little omen? Well, we’ve done this all before … Norton is fine, Kittridge is tough, but then when we got onto Quickert … oh boy. I think it was sustained 15-18% there (maybe even more in some spots). Al even had thoughts of stopping and walking, but he knew I was behind him. When we finally got to On Orbit, we had to take a breather.

I had to give Al the bad news that what we did, wasn’t even On Orbit, that this left turn we are making is On Orbit, and this is where the real climb starts. WTF ??? Yes, onwards to more 18-25% climbs. Thank god for my granny gear, 30-28 … and using every gear inch of that thing. There is something soothing about you on the climb, with no cars, just hearing your derailleur in the back, climbing to the rhythm of your breathing, and not worrying about what is ahead. I did take a quick peak near the summit, just to know where I am, but I just kept at my same rhythm … it’s kind of a mental, psychological thing.

We made it!!! It’s not the highest peak, but it definitely is one of the toughest. Looking back, we started to wonder if this is the toughest climb in the Bay Area … it definitely is one of the toughest. Another one that comes to mind is Welch Creek, off of Calaveras, east of Fremont. Al thinks On Orbit is tougher, but I think Welch Creek … both of them are hard, but picking which is tougher is a tough call.

Anyhow, this is why I still have a triple chainring. If you are doing something this epic, you need those extra gear inches, especially since we are not getting any younger. I’m definitely tagging this one as a climbfest.


Montebello LKHC 2013 and My CX Excursion Across Montebello Trail


Montebello is the beginning of the LKHC season.  This is a series of hill climbs that begin in October, and goes on for 2 months on successive Saturdays.  It’s a great series, and is completely volunteer driven.  This is the 3rd year in a row doing this, and I just love it.


Got to see my friend Mark, who I haven’t seen in a while.  In fact I think the last time I saw him was on the Hwy 9 LKHC Time Trial.


I also spotted Gregory Smith, who I interact with in G+.  Good to finally meet someone in my social media outlets in person.

Montebello is my local hill, and usually when I climb it, there’s maybe 3 or 4 cyclist I see on the road, so it’s cool to see the road suddenly filled with a line of 70-80 cyclists.  Awesome!!!!

Photo courtesy Gregory Smith

As usual, people are passing me at will, and that’s fine … I’m in it to finish it … and hopefully I won’t be the Lantern Rouge.  Eventually, I found myself in the same level as a group of others, and I used their pace to maintain my pace up the rest of the hill.  One of them is a tandem, and it’s awesome for them to climb this massive hill on a tandem.


Photo courtesy Alexander Komlik


Photo courtesy Garrett Lau

I had no clue where the photographers were on the route, which was probably a good thing … get more candid shots that way. It also have more suffer shots as well.

Got up to the top, and Strava tuned this at 49 minutes, while the LKHC has this at 45 minutes.  Obviously, different start time for that segment.  It’s not my best, but I’m still pretty happy with it, considering last week, I could only muster 55 minutes up this hill.

The paved road ends here, but I decided to continue on the unpaved dirt and sometimes loose gravel section of the Montebello Trail.  Some spots are hard on a road bike, due to traction, it lack of it.  However,  I know others have done it, so let’s give it a try.



The view is spectacular, and since there are no cars, I don’t have to worry about cars.  Most of the bikes I saw on here were in Mountain Bikes.  I wonder how many thought “what’s that idiot going here on a road bike?”


This is a view I wouldn’t have seen in a paved road.  There were a few seconds where I was fishtailing, but I got used to it and was able to recover.

I finally got to the paved section, but by the time I got to Page Mill, I was stuck inside a gate. There was no outlet. Was I riding inside someone’s backyard? Luckily, I could put my bike over the other side of the fence, and crawl though it to get to the other side on Page Mill. Hopefully no one saw me.

On my way back, I’m not sure what it was, but I started sneezing and had a runny nose. This also fatigued me, and I was barely inching my way back home. It’s this an allergy attack, or did my cold re-surface? Luckily I got the LKHC in before this thing hit started. Is this another day I’m stuck indoors while it’s gloriously sunny outside? This just sucks.

Strava stats: 38.5 miles, 3406 feet climbing.  http://www.strava.com/activities/87120338

Sneaked Out a Ride during On Call Weekend


Someone had to work the holiday weekend, so this time it was me.  One benefit about this weekend is that since it’s a pretty big holiday in the U.S., a lot of people are enjoying it, and not too many are working.  So I guess I’m lucky in that respect.  The downside is it was a nice day.  Looked like a great day for a bike ride.

I was able to sneak in a ride up Montebello School, so it wasn’t s total loss.  At least I have Monday off 🙂     Plus, I got in the last , 25 miles in August for me.

Hill Climbing and Fast Rolling Hills Makes for a Tough Weekend

Saturday, I decided to do some hill repeats of Montebello, my local mountainous hill.  It’s a 5.2 mile, 2,000 foot climb.  I did this with the Meetup group, who were training for the Death Ride.  Their goal was to do 5 repeats … that’s a 10,000 foot day.  I wasn’t up for that much, but I did join them for climbs 2 and 3.  It was actually a pretty decent sized turnout.  I think there were about 12 of us when I went on the first climb.

I felt good going out, and I started out on my middle chainring.  However, that soon changed, as the grade pitched up to 15+%, and time to shift into the granny gear.  I could already see the strong riders pull away from me, and I’m not about to go chasing them (as if I could).  As soon as I reached the school, it leveled off a little bit, and was able to go back to my middle chain ring.  From that point on, I kept it there, and just powered it until the last mile of the climb.

I know this climb very well, and with that in mind, I just kept my head focused 10 feet in front of me, not tempting myself to look and see what slope I have ahead of me.  That kind of help me with my pacing and aggressive hill climbing.  As they always say, don’t look up, and just power through it.  I felt pretty good, but only found out afterwards, it was not a PR, but that was okay.  All that mattered was how good it felt.

Munchies await at the bottom of the hill

Down the hill, and to munch on snacks (cookies, nuts, smoked salmon …mmmm).  Kudos to Mark for coming up with this ride, and most importantly, the rewards at the bottom of the hill.  After munching on goodies, it’s back up the hill again.

Second time around, I could definitely feel slowness in my climb, as expected.  Now you would think that doing the same climb over and over again would be a little boring, but for some odd reason, it isn’t monotonous.  It had its own challenges.  Remember how I said I would just keep my head down and not look at what’s up ahead?  Well, I looked up … not sure if that impacted my climb time, but it was a little slower … 5 minutes slower.  Back at the bottom of the hill, munching for more goodies, and I do feel my legs are saying no more, so that’s it for me … only 2.

Sunday, it’s some rolling hills, with about 60 miles and 3000 feet of climbing, so doesn’t look too bad, right?  No long climbs like Montebello … only substantial one is Edgewood, but there are plenty of short bursty, punch in the gut climbs.  This group had some aggressive riders, but I was able to hold my own.  After the major climb of the day, it was mostly flat on the way back.  For some reason, I was struggling to hang in with the group.  I just started to think, is this how it’s like to ride in a multi-day race?  Mountainous terrain one day, aggressive, short, rolling hills the next day … and it had me gasping, reaching to grab onto any wheel in front of me.

Perhaps it’s the aggressive hill climbing in the morning, or maybe it was the intensity and amount of climbing I had the previous day … but I did feel the suffrage.  Good suffer points, I guess.  At least I’m not racing … but then again, anything’s possible.

Last Ride of the Year … Quest to reach 7000

As the year comes to a close, I went and looked at my Strava stats.  I looked at the training page, and it said I had 7 more miles to go for 7000 (6993).  I then looked at my personal profile, and it broke down the mileage for the year, and broke it down to cycling, running, etc.  Ah, running … I had forgotten all about the 10k run I did, and the training runs I did for that.  I logged my running miles on Strava, and instead of needing to 7 miles, I needed to do 38.  And only one day to do it too.

Luckily there was no rain forecast, so this goal is very reachable.  I had done an out and back to Kings Mountain the day before, so I didn’t want to just do a flat ride out to Woodside and back.  Hmm … I was going to do Mt. Eden, then head over to Kennedy and Shannon, and that would have gotten me the extra 38 miles needed.  I headed over to Stevens Canyon, and something in my head said “Montebello”.

I’ve got a few screws loose in my head.  I could have done a fairly flat ride, and here I go climbing a 2500 ft elevation hill climb … and do this on one of the coldest days of the year???  What am I nuts? – Don’t answer that … I already know, I am.

I really took my time on this climb … but hey, I’m not out to set any records, just finish it.  It actually wasn’t too bad up on top.  Although the temps were lower than normal, it wasn’t all the windy, which really helped a lot.

Do they really need that many locks to lock the gate?

I ended up with 7003 miles, 378k feet climbing, and 548 hours, 6 minutes.  That’s a lot of time on the bike, but all good.

Goodbye 2012.  I don’t know what’s up in store for 2013.  I’m gonna do some Randonneur events, and will most likely do 2 or 3 double centuries, but other than that, I think I’ll just enjoy the ride.

Montebello LKHC 2012

It’s October, and that means it’s Low Key Hill Climb season.  The first one of the year, as with every year, is Montebello Road, which is right in my backyard.

I got to the staging area in what I thought was ample time.  What I thought was strange was I couldn’t find the person who was taking check-ins, giving me my number, etc.  After waiting around a while, I got to talking with one rider, and thought it strange … where do we check in.  He then told me it’s 1/2 mile down the road in the parking lot.  Damn, they changed the check-in location.  Gotta high tail it down.  I was one of the last few riders to check in, but at least I got everything all squared away.  Now to sprint back to the staging area (along with some short steep climb to get out of the parking lot).

Photo courtesy Christine Holmes

There was a good number of riders, as usual, for the first LKHC of the year.  It’s an exciting time, where everyone gets together, reminisce about the season, and kind of a reunion of sorts.  This is a mass start, so they wanted the faster riders up front, and slower riders near the back (I ventured towards the back).  It was funny, Dan mentioned if you could do OLH in 16 minutes, then you may want to be near the front … uh yeah, right … I can do that in a car.

It was a mass start, and we had a short 1/4 mile flat stretch before hitting the climb.  Right at the right turn onto Montebello, two riders collided with each other and went down … not even on Montebello yet.  I think it was a matter of the inside rider making a move to the left, or something like that.  Not serious … they just had to untangle each other.  Wow, what a way to start the event.

I took comfort in knowing I wouldn’t be the absolute last in the group, as I was able to pass a few riders.  I did pass one family, where a guy on a tandem, with his daughter as a stoker, who couldn’t even reach the pedal.  They had a contraption on the tandem to allow a kid to pedal along.  He also had his older son, who was probably around 10 or so … it’s great to see a family outing on one of these hill climbs, which are not easy.

There was one guy I was targeting, that as long as I stay close to him, it should give me a pretty good pace.  I wanted to pass him on so many occasions, but just couldn’t.  Finally, at the last steep section, I feel like I have my chance.  I got a burst of energy, knowing that it’s only 200 more feet of climbing.  I was able to wizz past him, and ready to finish the climb strong.  One problem … there was this truck and it slowed down, and he was in my way … Nooooo!!!!!  I lost my momentum there, but it was only about 100 feet more.  Oh well, I think I lost 5-10 seconds from that.

Photo courtesy of Bryn Dole

All in all, it was a great day, despite the mishaps in the beginning and the end.  It did get cold up on top … clouds were hovering, keeping the temps down.  After getting off the mountain, I went to do Mt. Eden, and then Saratoga Summit.  I don’t know what it is, but my legs were thrashed at this point.  All I knew was I wanted to find the quickest way home.  I was going to Los Gatos and do Kennedy/Shannon loop, or maybe even Hicks … but those plans were dashed, seeing how thrashed I was.

I guess I’ll make it a short day, and rest my legs, and watch football like the rest of the arm chair quarterbacks out there.

Low Key Hill Climb Motivates Personal Best Time

This is the third year I’ve done the Low Key Hill Climb series.  First one was the Thanksgiving Day climb up Mt. Hamilton, which was a blast.

From OLH LKHC 2009

Last year I did OLH, and that was exhilarating.  I got my personal best time there, 24:51.  I’ve tried many times to beat that on my own, but could never get anywhere near that.

Then Saturday, there was the Montebello road LKHC.  The best time I had up to this point was 47 minutes, but after I got to the finish, my time was clocked at 44:53, over 2 minutes faster than I had ever gotten.  What is going on here?

Montebello LKHC 2010

I guess part of it is the adrenaline of being timed, but I have another theory … with a mass start, and large masses of riders climbing to the same destination you are, it gives you that extra push, that extra adrenaline that pumps you up.  Now, granted, I was climbing along side a couple of cuties, that may have played a part in it (oh, btw, that cutie beat my time by 1 minute).  It probably got me going at a pace much higher than I normally would.

I think these hill climb series are great.  It gives you that extra adrenaline push.  That’s the only explanation for the increased performance over my normal hill climbing rides.  Anyone have any other theories?

Montebello Road Busier Today Than Usual #30daysofbiking

Couldn’t decide where to ride today, so I decided to do the local hill, Montebello.  Depending on who you talk to, it’s 5.2 miles, and roughly 2000 feet climbing.

It was busy out there today.  Maybe because it was Sunday, but saw plenty of cyclists up and down the hill.  Good thing … but there were also quite a number of cars out there.  If fact, one time, a car was passing me, then there was another car coming down the hill.  The road itself was about 1.5 lanes wide, and I was fearing there would be a head on collision 100 feet in front of me.  Luckily, both sides braked.  Close call … no words exchanged, just a feeling of “whew”.  But that’s what you get when you travel a road up in the boonies.

I was feeling too energetic, so I felt I’ll just go through the motion of the hill climb.  Much to my surprise, I got in a fairly good time (for me at least) … 48:37.  My 3rd best.  I guess it also helped that I had some cyclists ahead of me, and I was using them as targets.  Luckily they were not as fast as me, so that gave me some confidence building.

Great day to do the ride too.  Not too windy, not too cold, and not too hot.  Perfect conditions … yay!

Back in the Saddle Again

Two weeks after the fall, I feel like I’m ready to go riding again.  Left shoulder doesn’t seem to be bothering me too much, and there is absolutely no tenderness or pain on my left hip, so onto the ride.

So for my first ride back, do we ease into it?  What do you think … knowing the Wrecking Crew, it would be an epic one … and it was.  Actually, this was a comeback of sorts for me, and for Chris, who had been battling colds for the past 3 weeks.  And with all the rains we have been having, it has kept most of us off the bike.

So we all decided to do Mt. Hamilton, then Kincaid.  We started out late, mostly due to Michael having a dentist appointment … on a Saturday!  We were supposed to start at 10:30 am, but we didn’t really roll till around 11 am.  Talk about running late!

Donald actually rode from his house over to the start.  He was the only brave soul who dared to ride to the start.  I toyed with that idea, but seeing this is my first real ride back, I figured just doing Hamilton and Kinkaid would be enough miles.

We headed off a little after 11 am, with Ramon and Donald, assuming their normal positions, in the front, tearing up the pace up Alum Rock.

As soon as we turned on Hamilton, I immediately assumed my position … in the back.

The weather was really nice.  The sun was shining just enough to feel some rays.  This will be a welcome change, instead of the washing your bike after you finish your ride routing.

After I got separated at the lower portion of Hamilton.  But then again, as I look down, I am in my big ring.  Oh well, I figure I’d go as long as I could here, then shift to my middle ring.  Anyhow, at this point, I am riding solo, as everyone is way ahead of me … at least until Donald got a flat.

That’s one way to keep the group together.  Luckily, that would be the only flat for the entire ride.  After about 2 more miles of climbing, I was distanced yet again.  At this point, I switch to my granny gear, but I wasn’t getting any closer.  I think my fitness has really affected me, not just over the last couple weeks, but since the beginning of the year.  I think I also gained a few pounds, so I gotta do something … but that’s for another blog.

I kept trying to think in my mind to push a little harder, as my heartrate isn’t really being pushed too much, but then again there is a little issue of power … it just isn’t there.  However, I can say that I am impressed that I have kept up as much as I could.  I think my PB up Hamilton is 2:02, or something like that, and I made it up there at around 2:10.  Not bad, but about 2 miles from the top, I see Donald coming down the mountain.  He had to get back earlier, so he wouldn’t be able to join us on Kinkaid.

Reaching the top, I was just exhausted, tired, wanna sleep.  Parts of my mind were thinking to skip Kinkaid, but I knew I’d be ridiculed and peer pressure is coming into play here.  Since everyone else is doing Kinkaid, I gotta do it.

We descend down, then onto Kinkaid, where we are greeted with an incredibly smooth road … really nice.  Then, we get a few short climbs, descend even more, then pass the bridge, and start the climbs.  It’s really pretty down here, and no one to bother us.  There was not one car, or any other cyclist down here at all.

The climb really beat us all into submission.  The climbs were tough, especially after climbing all the way up to the top of Hamilton.  After the bridge, the climbs start out at about 11, then stay steady at around 5-6%.  Then, it just kicks you in the butt near the end back up to 10-12%.  It’s about 2 miles, and about 900 feet climbing, but after already doing 4500 feet already, it really gets to you.

Now the hard part … going back again.  So this detour is actually adding 1800 feet to our climbing.  The is some way to get back into the groove, eh?  Needless to say, I’m taking a break tomorrow.  Gonna ride my recumbent, giving it to Jack, since I really am not riding it at all.  I might as well let someone else enjoy it.

For more pics, go to http://spingineer.smugmug.com/gallery/11236476_jMDjs/#788048130_EWvL5

Final stats:

Distance: 50.4 mi
Elevation: + 6732 / – 6692 ft
Max Grade:
18.4 %
Duration: 04:54:50
Moving: 04:24:57
Stopped: 00:29:53
Calories: 4323
Avg Watts: 244
Max Speed: 34.7 mph
Avg Speed: 11.4 mph
Max Cad: 166 rpm
Min Cad: 0 rpm
Avg Cad: 41 rpm
Max HR: 176 bpm
Min HR: 104 bpm
Avg HR: 147 bpm
HR Zone 1: 16 min
HR Zone 2: 27 min
HR Zone 3: 1 hour 34 min
HR Zone 4: 1 hour 17 min
HR Zone 5: 1 min