Tag Archives: Mt. Hamilton

So This is What Winter Is Like

We haven’t had a whole lot of rain, and even when we did, it was just wet, and not really too cold. Recently, we had some cold fronts from Alaska, bringing in cold temps. It did rain, and it brought the snow level, to the point where our local mountains had a dusting of snow at the mountain peaks.

The most iconic ones are Mt. Hamilton and Mt. Diablo. Mt. Hamilton is more local to me, and I heard there was a bit of snow in the mountains, so I had to check it out. It also gave me an opportunity to get in a metric century+, and in hopes to get my endurance up.

It was cold by California standards. Near the top, it was 41 F … now that may seem balmy for everyone else, but it’s a winter feel for California (especially if you aren’t living in the Sierras). I remember the jacket I used for DMD kept me pretty comfortable, so I wore that. I had wool socks, but I have no idea why I didn’t even put on my shoe covers. It would have kept my feet nice and toasty, but fortunately, the combination of wool socks, and toe warmers kept me warm enough. I had my skull cap, which I can lower to cover my ears, and I also had a balaclava, to protect my face against the wind. With this said, I was ready to climb the mountain.

I curiously saw a sign (it looked like a permanent sign) that indicated road closed at Grant Park (which is half way up the climb). I ignored that sign, and continued on up, and at Grant Park, I did see a road closed sign .. Damn. However, the CHP there just told me he won’t stop me from going up, but he warned there was reports of ice near the top, and a few people went down. I guess that’s expected, especially if they are ice conditions up there. I’ll keep my speed down (going uphill), and stay upright (keep the rubber side down). However, since they were stopping cars, who were not locals, this meant we have the road all to ourselves (well, with the exception of a few locals, and Caltrans going up and down with the snow plow). It’s like riding Glendora Mountain Road, Bay Area style!

About 3000 foot level, I saw my first evidence of snow on the road. Eventually, I saw it cover both sides of the road, and it was awesome.


It felt like I was inside a refrigerator, but it was cool, not cold. This deserved a stop for some pictures. I was definitely in a winter playground, and it was awesome. It was all natural, not man-made. I just had to take it all in.

The colder weather does have an impact on my climbing. I didn’t have as much energy as I would have, if it was a 70 degree day … my motivation today was just to make it up to the top, no matter how slow, or how much energy I expended doing it. I did see a handful of riders (maybe 5-10) descending the mountain, but I only saw maybe 3 other riders going up. I guess it’s just too cold for the average rider … I’m channeling Rule # 9 … if the weather is inclement, and you are out riding, you are badass! So here I am, badass’ing it up Hamilton.

I finally make it up to the top, and I see more of that white stuff. It is fabulous!


There is one California mistake I made … I took off my gloves, and I put them on the ground … the wet ground. After I picked it up, I realized what I had done … wet gloves, descending down … oooh … that’s going to be a cold descent. I went down slowly, just to keep the speed down, and not suffer frost bite on my fingers. I did stop one time, just to warm myself up. After that, I was fine, but it was a cool descent. Luckily, we did have to small climbs on the way down … it was just enough to warm myself up.

Devil’s Mountain Double was Epic, but DNF’d

I finally got the courage to enter and ride Devil’s Mountain Double, despite the advertised 206 mile, 18,600 feet total elevation.  However, the result was a DNF, but it’s not that I am disappointed at this.  I am pretty happy with my performance.


I got really good news on Thursday, that my co-worker, who lives 12 minutes from the start, was offering to let me stay overnight.  Cool.  I was originally going to drive over at 3:30 am (meaning I’d have to wait up by 2:30 am).  This meant getting at least an hour more sleep, and a much shorter drive, and a civilized start of the day.  This was better than a 5 star hotel.



We rolled out at 4:59 am, and started out with Curtis and Rick.  I made sure I took it easy at the start, as I knew we’d be heading straight up Mt. Diablo first.  I was amazed how many riders had the bad luck of having a mechanical, even before starting the climb.

This year, DMD is not one of the Triple Crown Stage races, and the organizers wanted to stress being able to enjoy the surroundings, and enjoy the scenery.  Ok, I can do that … don’t have to twist my arm.  One thing I’ll have to say … early morning Mt. Diablo climbs are spectacular, and even the best pictures, and best descriptions don’t do it justice.

Curtis and Rick ended up summiting Mt. Diablo before I did.  I was trying to stay within comfortable limits.


When I finally got up to the top, my friend Victor was helping support the ride, and he was taking pictures if everyone summiting Mt. Diablo. Funny, he didn’t realize it was me until I pass by him. Very cool.

OK, down the hill, and here I made up some time because for some reason, I acclimated to the cold better than others, which caused them to be a lot more cautious on the descent, and I eventually caught up with Curtis and Rick.

We continued ride together through Morgan Territory, then over to Livermore, but split up by the time we got to Paterson Pass. This was the defining moment of the ride, as this is what kicked us all in the ass. We had gale force winds, plus the Double digit grades we had to climb. This combination was brutal.

I descended down the other side, and the route merged with the Wente RR.  As they pass me, I get a real cool kudos from the lead pack.  “Is that DMD you’re riding?  Awesome” … that’s pretty cool to get kudos from some hot shot racer.

One thing I have always feared was making the time cut off. We had to get to the Mines Road checkpoint and leave no later than 1:30 pm, then get to lunch at The Junction by 4:30 pm. It was pretty flat getting to Mines Road but I wasn’t sure how well I was doing on time. There were other riders near me, so that made me feel a lot better. We ended up getting there a little past 1 pm, so that’s one hurdle we crossed.

Now it’s onto Mines Rd., which Eye on the Bay called “the road that goes to nowhere”. That is such an appropriate adjective, as it just kept going on forever. I also had Scott in the SAG wagon, checking up on me just to see how well I’m doing. I started thinking if I’m the last rider, and will I make the cutoff for lunch? About 10 miles from lunch, we had a water stop and they confirmed I’m not the last one … It just felt like it, with no one behind me.


Finally, I get to lunch, and there are still people here .. Woohoo. Victor was there to greet me, along with Kermit and a few other Double Century notables. More importantly, they had food here … Mmm chicken sandwich never tasted so good.

Off to climb Mt. Hamilton. I didn’t climb from the Junction to the top of Hamilton in a while … Maybe I should have? I forgot about the double digit grades at mile 10-12. I thought it was all from mile 5 but they still have some kickers before that. At this stage, the climbing was all a matter of survival .. Just turn the crank and keep moving. I had just done this climb a week ago, so at least my body is used to this, except I only had 25 miles in my legs, as opposed to 120 miles. The one saving grace is at least there is still some sunlight left.

I get to the top and only one person passed me. I was a little surprised by that. I thought there were more behind me. There was no rest stop at the top, and I had to go down to Brothers, so time to layer up, and get ready for a cold descent. I had no toe covers so I just gotta suffer through it.

The sunset coming through the clouds was a cool and eerie sight. I was descending this but really enjoying the scenery (I guess you can say I’m taking Scott’s advise, and take in the beauty). I wasn’t cold either, and this was probably my favorite part of the ride, as I’ve never descended Hamilton at this time of the evening.

The rest stop is off of Crothers and in someone’s home. Now that’s the way to have a rest stop. Nice warm soup awaits. I caught up to Curtis here, not knowing he was ready to their in the towel, due to cold, and not being able to keep control. That’s too bad, as I finally was able to ride along with him.

Ok, continuing on, and Sierra Road awaits. Lucky for me it’s dark so I won’t have to see how steep the road is that I have to tackle. As I climb, a group of DMD volunteers were parked in the hill, cheering me on, ringing cowbells … I I’ve that enthusiasm and I really appreciated it. This was just awesome .. Now if only I can finish the climb. Well that’s easier said than done.

I was struggling to find leg strength and it just wasn’t there. I found myself stopping about 5 times. I even walked a few hundred steps, but I had to keep on going. Another push, then I see a car coming down thinking “I wonder if that’s a SAG wagon” … and it was. I officially throw in the towel at this point. Checking my Garmin, I’m at 159 miles and just under 17,000 feet climbing. Wow these stats are out if this world.


So I DNF’d … I still feel great about what I accomplished. Some couldn’t even fathom doing this. I started but I simply did not finish. As my friend Lynn says, consider it as a kick ass training ride.

I got to chat with some of the finishers at the end, and it was refreshing to find out Patterson Pass affected them as much it affected me. This was brutal. It wasn’t raining, it wasn’t hot, but the wind made it so tough. Now that we are off the road, we’re all smiles.


Am I Really Ready For DMD


Well, I’m not sure if I know the answer to that question.  With one week left, any massive epic training ride probably won’t make too much difference, so I probably should just re-acquaint my legs with one of the major climbs, and cutoff points, the backside of Hamilton.

I was originally going to do both sides of Hamilton plus Sierra, but I don’t think that extra suffrage would benefit me … Besides this would already have 7000+ feet climbing already.


I’m not sure we was with me today, but I was hanging in there with Ramon almost to the full climb on the front side of Hamilton.  In fact, I was able to get  PR of 2:05.  My previous best was 2:07.  I wasn’t even trying to get
a good time.  I was trying to get a smooth cadence, a good rhythm with my pedal strokes going up Hamilton.


After a brief stop at the top of the observatory it’s down the hill on the backside to the bridge, then a 5.5 mile grind back up the hill. I forgot to bring my heart rate monitor, so I couldn’t tell hard hard I was working, so I had to rely on rate of climbing, in ft/min climbed. I figured if I maintain between 1000-2000 ft/hr, that would still be a good pace, but it wouldn’t be killing me.


Toughest part is probably between the 3-4 mile marker point. One thing I like about this climb is you see the mile marker clearly marked. You could even see it from a helicopter up above.



With 1 and 2 miles left to go, I figured the hard part was done, but no. It was still up around 9-11% grade. Yeesh, glad I did a final reconnaissance climb here one more time. This was hard.

But getting to the top, we get the reward … Fantastic view

By the time we got up here, we figured we knew Sierra well enough, we didn’t has to do that after this … I mean we already had 7000 feet of climbing in our legs. Recover time. Keep in mind, we still have a little annoying climb on the way back on the descent. Our legs were heavy.

So I guess I’m either ready or I’m not. There’s nothing more I can do at this point. I’ll just have to pace myself and not over extend myself. Just make the checkpoint and then let it all hang out at that point. My goal is just to finish it. And if I don’t make the cut off, it’s not a big deal … Just as long as I enjoy the ride, that’s the important part of it.

Stats for this ride, 50.7 miles, 7355 feet climbing. Now to find a cool down ride.


Only 2 ways in 2 Days, but it’s Still Hamilton and Diablo on Back to Back Days

Lorri Lee Lown has created an annual climb feast event, what she calls 4 ways in 4 days. She opened up her contact book, and invited everyone in her racing and cycling circles. It’s amazing how far her reach is … I was looking at the list of invitees and I knew a lot of them, and thought “how does she know these folk”?

We’ll this turned into 3 days in 3 days instead, because she had a conflict for Sunday … Ok so it’s 3 ways in 3 days.

First day was turkey day, Thanksgiving Day. It’s a tradition every year that cyclists flock to Mt. Hamilton, to work off the stomach, so that they can have enough room for the turkey. LKHC has their ride scheduled at 9:45 am, but we started at 8 am, so that by the time we descend, LKHC climbers are just coming up the hill. Plus, our group is a little smaller, and more manageable.


Lorri couldn’t make it, so Jason Pierce, fixie extraordinaire, let the rides for all 3 days. We were hanging out in front of Starbucks, then all of a sudden, I noticed the group took off up the mountain. Oops.

Caught up with Tiina and Annie from Velogirls, and we proceeded to take a leisure climb up Hamilton. With 3 climbs in 3 days, we weren’t really in the mood to hammer it up. Plus, Tiina needed to do a ride in Zone 1. Hmm, climb Mt. Hamilton in Zone 1? Well, laugh as you must, she actually accomplished that. By the time we reached the top, LKHC was still setting up the finish. Some of the early finishers already headed down the mountain, being on a time crunch. One down, two to go.

For Mt. Diablo, Karen wanted to carpool with me, since she’s not too familiar with the area, so I met her at the Starbucks around my house. We carpooled up, but we weren’t really sure exactly where the start was supposed to be. One posting stated Starbucks, another said Peets … But then, there are two Starbucks in Danville … Ugh. So we showed up with one group at Starbucks, then headed over to Peets. We followed one group, and we took some short cut that bypassed the road to Athena School, which is the route I normally take. We eventually found our way to the main route, and on Mt. Diablo Road. Karen forgot her camera at home, so she relied on me to take pictures.






It was strange, but I caught up with one of the lead groups up the top of Diablo. I basically climbed the wall in a pack. That was strange, and I wasn’t used to that. I ended up boxing out one rider (as I was near the middle, and swerved a little too much to the left). I’m not used to having to climb a hill in a straight line. To whoever I boxed out, I truly apologize.

The third day is Mt. Tam, which starts at Mikes Bikes in Sausalito.  However, I could not work out the logistics of getting there by 9 am, so I had to bail on the 3rd day.  Oh well, 2 out of 3 ain’t bad.

Mt. Hamilton PR Shattered


Saturday, Bronwen led a meetup to go up Mt. Hamilton.  Funny that she thought only 1 or 2 people would show up.  We had about 16-20.  Uh, hello, this is one of the most iconic climbs, and it’s on a Saturday, and the weather is nice.  What were you expecting?

B Group Riders

B Group Riders

With so many riders, we split up the group into A, B, and C groups (A being the fastest).  A group started out first, as they were to do Kincaid option (another hill climb, out and back).  I rode with the B riders (because frankly, I cannot keep up with the A group).  I think the general criteria was completing the climb in 1:45.  I’d be lucky if I can make it in 2:00 (but more on that later).

Bronwen and I have this friendly competitive nature between us.  She was commenting that she was looking at Strava, and comparing her time with others, and noted that my personal best was just a hair above hers … but then again, that time was 2 years ago, and I haven’t come close to beating that yet.  Hmm, omen of things to come?

We kept leap frogging each other, until about 1/3 of the way, she slowed down, to take her jacket off (most likely while still riding/climbing) … in the meantime, I continued climbing at a good 8-9 mph pace.  I got ahead of her, but then I decided to take a quick pit stop a little past halfway, and that’s when she got ahead of me.  Damn … so now it’s catch up.


I didn’t try killing myself to catch up, but at least I had some motivation.  I remember having a chat with my friend Phoebe, who loves posting her suffer videos (known as freighttraininguphill on youtube).  She was saying how slowing her breathing down helped her gain time in hill climbing, so I think subconsciously, I may have been doing the same thing.

About 4 miles from the top, I suddenly see Bronwen, along with another rider, stopped at the side, taking a breather.  Ok, here’s my chance … I just needed to maintain my current pace, and just keep motoring.  The important thing is to not get overtaken and caught.  It’s that fear that kept me going.


Got up to the top, with the A group waiting.  I had no idea what my time was, since I didn’t start the timer at the bottom.  All I knew was it was 12:15 pm when I reached the observatory, but didn’t know what time we started.

Now it’s just a matter of enjoying the view, and recover before heading down the mountain.




After getting home, I found out I got a PR out of that, and by a whopping 4 minutes. Bronwen was saying I PR’d that, but I don’t know. I didn’t feel it at least. According to Strava, the time was 2:02:41. Sweet!

Check out this segment on Strava: http://app.strava.com/segments/340903 — Mt Hamilton – Official (to Gate)

Both Sides of Hamilton and with PRs

Sunday was a Meetup ride up Hamilton, and a small group wanting to do the backside as well.  I was determined to do this, after I failed to complete this when I arranged to get my friend Karen, Dan, and Ramon together for a ride.  From reports, it looked like it was a great ride, and I was sad to have missed it (due to a broken chain).

I was suffering through allergies the day before, so I made sure I took antihistimine, just so I wouldn’t be suffering while on the climb.


We had a great turnout, with ~ 7 of us heading out 5 minutes before everyone else.  I actually wanted to head out earlier, just because I know I’m not going to be one of the faster climbers.

The lead group was going at a pretty brisk pace, but not fast enough where I was not able to hang on to them.  Or could it be that they just wanted to keep the group together?  Well, whatever it was, I was able to climb the first half to Grant Park without feeling too fatigued.  Now, knowing that I’m planning to do both sides of Hamilton, you would think I would conserve my energy, right?  Well, think again.

I proceeded to start plucking away at riders in front of me.  I think I’ve come to the conclusion that climbing mountains, in a big group, gives me that much more adrenaline, and amps up my aggression.  I did notice that I was only in my middle chain ring … hmm, maybe that’s why I was climbing faster than I normally would on Hamilton.  What I didn’t understand was why I wasn’t all tired.  Maybe it’s because of the previous week’s hill climbing I’ve been doing?

I got up to the top, and much to my surprise, I wasn’t the last of the group wanting to do the backside.  I took a quick glance at my Garmin, and it seemed like I could come close to my PR, but since I didn’t look at what time I started, I couldn’t tell.


After chowing down, and getting our sugar high (coke), it’s time to head down the hill, on the other side of Hamilton, and ready for the steep climb back up.  Since I climbed the front side solely on my middle chain ring, I decided to climb the steeper side with my granny gear.


As usual, I found myself near the back of the pack, but I did have company in the back.  They kinda kept me on a good pace, not faultering at a slow pace, and not climbing beyond what my pace can handle.  This time, I didn’t stop for any breaks at all.  I just felt a bit stronger today, and by the time I got back up to the top, I wasn’t as exhausted as I thought I would be.  Yes, this was a lot of climbing, but I felt unusually good about the day.


I met up with everyone back at the observatory, for another refreshing stop, before heading down the hill again.  Now that the hard part is done, we could relax and do some sight seeing.  Yeah, I know, I’ve taken these pictures before … but every time I come up here, the feeling is different and refreshed.


Okay, now I’ve teased you long enough … final results … PR on both front and back sides.  Wow, this doesn’t happen every day.  Front side, 2:07:54, and previous PR was 2:08:04.  On the back side, my PR was 51:28, and previous best was 1:01:43.  Wow, I beat it by 10 minutes?  Wow, I have to admit, this is a good feeling.


Contour Handlebar Mounted Doesn’t Work Well on Chipsealed Roads

I recently did Hamilton this weekend, and was going to video my descent down the backside of Hamilton.  The road is chipsealed, but I thought I’d take video anyways.  The video was so bumpy and so choppy, I’m wondering if this has to do with the mount.  Do any GoPro users experience the same thing?  I probably should have taken the helmet mount instead … oh well

Back into Climbing Shape

I think I’m back, or at least on the road to climbing shape again.  I guess I was trying to regain confidence that I can do those long climbs again.  Last week, I did do Page Mill, but I feared I didn’t quite have the confidence that I can repeat this, like I did on my weekends, where I did consecutive climbing rides on back to back days.

I definitely was going to do Mt. Hamilton on Sunday, so I figured on climbing Hwy 9 to Skyline would be good to do on Saturday.  Actually, my original plan was to go south on Skyline (after climbing Hwy 9), and go out to Gish, then Black, then turn back to Hwy 9 again.  The “back” route does include an extra 1000 feet of rolling hills.

I didn’t want to push it too hard, so it was a grind it out pace.  It wasn’t fast, and I was careful to ease the pace, the moment I found any slight tweak in my back.  By the time I made it up to Skyline, I just decided to just turn back.  I’d still get in just under 40 miles, so that’s a good number to start with.

Sunday, I did the meetup ride, going up Mt. Hamilton.  This is 19 miles straight up, to elevation of 4000 feet.  I was originally going to ride to the start, but when I woke up, I can tell I needed some food, as my head felt pretty light.  Look in the fridge … gah … empty.  Looks like I gotta rely on Starbucks for breakfast.  As I was preparing everything, I quickly found myself running out of time (due to forgetting to bring one thing or another).  This always seems to happen when I drive to the start of a ride.  Maybe that’s why I always prefer to ride to the start.

The meetup ride had a really good turnout.  Since this is a 19 mile climb, I had to make sure I didn’t go too hard in the first 10 miles (very easy to do).   I was content to just let a large number of people pass me by … they all seemed to be stronger and fitter than me anyways.  The key here was to make sure my back didn’t feel any extra strain.  I eventually hooked up with a group of 3 other riders, and we were doing a conversational climbing pace (yes, that is possible).  That kinda helped pace myself, and make sure I didn’t blow myself up.

At around 17 miles up, I started to feel my back flare up a little bit … but then I realized, I was only in my middle chainring … damn, I’ve got another chainring to shift into.  Ah, that felt better.  I knew when I was at the last switchback, and that’s when I started to push deep down.  The good news is my back wasn’t aching, so I just had to concentrate on pushing the pedals, and getting my heartrate up.

I made it to the top in 2:17, about 10 minutes slower than my personal best.  It actually surprised me how well I did … if it weren’t for that potty stop, mid-way on the climb, who knows how close I would have come to my personal best?

At this point, I feel more confidence in my climbing.  I think I’ve built up my core strong enough that I can go more aggressive on climbs.  Now all I have to do is bump up the mileage.  Strange how confidence can really change the way you ride.

Last Prep before Grand Tour – Hamilton Both Sides

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.

Now I am training for Grand Tour, while Richard is training for the Death Ride.  More power to ya buddy.  Brentley also joined us for this fun excursion up the mountain.

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.

My favorite scene when doing the backside is coming up along the big 120-inch telescope.  I never get tired of taking this picture.

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.

One last shot of the valley, and it’s down the hill.  Glorious day for a ride.  Now hopefully this will prepare me for Grand Tour.  Only time will tell.

Hmm … Should I do DMD … NO!

There was another DMD trainer ride, and this would be a good opportunity to get in a good 100+ miler 2 weeks before my Solvang Double.  The route would be in excess of 100 miles, but damn … what a difficult way to get in those 100 miles.

Dan, our fearless leader, showing his stretching prowess

My friend Dan, aka lanceoldstrong, was the mastermind of this route.  He was originally going to do this with his buddy, and it was going to be just a two man ride.  Well, he had to bail, and so the ride plan goes on twitter … well, a two man ride turned into a 9 man ride.  Woohoo … the power of twitter.  Most of the usual suspects showed up .. myself, Bassem, Chris, Marco, Donald, Ben, and a couple new faces I haven’t seen before … Keith and Yu Hua.

We were originally going to start at Mines Rd, to pick up along the DMD route, but a bunch of us derailed that idea.  Longer drive than we wanted to, so we started from Bart in Fremont instead.  This was a nicer option, as it does give us a nice 25 mile warmup before hitting Mines Rd, and second, if we started from Mines Rd, we’d hit climbing immediately.

The pace out of Fremont Bart was brisque.  Of course, anytime you head out on Niles Canyon, and get into a paceline, you can’t help but have a fast pace.  At least this gives our legs a nice warmup.

First flat of the day

After a quick jaunt on I-680, then onto Vallecitos (Hwy 84), we suffered our first flat.  Keith was the unfortunate victim.

We forge on ahead to Livermore

Chris signaled us to move on.  Chris and Ben stuck along side with Keith.  They are guaranteed to catch us (and they eventually did on Mines Road).  So we forged on ahead.  I assumed my normal position .. in the back of the pack.

We made one last pit stop before heading out to Mines Road.  However, Donald got a flat there … two, and counting.  Bassem took some time to take a few pics.  For once, I’m in the picture.  This is a rarity.

Starting the steep climb on Mines Road

Onwards to Mines Road.  A left turn to continue on Mines Road, and suddenly, I lost visible contact with the rest of the group.  Oh well, I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep up with everyone, but this is ridiculous.  Anyhow, time to get into a groove, and just try to limit the pain.  I did eventually catch up with Dan, but only because he was disrobing …. uh, taking off base layer that is.  But a funny thing happened from this … when he redressed himself, one strap from the bib was just hanging out.  I should have taken a pic, but I refrained from that.  Had to give our leader some respect.  :p

Eventually Dan did pass me up, partially because the tourist in me is stopping to take in the views, as well as more pictures.

Re-group due to Marco's flat

I could feel the steep portion was over, as I’m able to pick up some speed and actually descend!  Then, I see a group off to the side … uh oh, not a good sign.  Whaddayaknow … another flat.  Flat #3.  This time, it’s Marco.

Onwards for more rollies, then, Yu Hua gets a flat.  That’s #4.  Everyone was getting a little antsy, so I stuck in with Yu Hua, and decided to meet everyone at The Junction.  We didn’t catch anybody, as we were struggling with the rest of the rollies on Mines Road.  These rollies kept going on and on … I kept looking at the mile markers on the road, and couldn’t remember exactly what mile the Junction was at … it’s mile 19.  The last few climbs before the Junction were kickers, and we just wanted it to end.

Lunch at The Junction

We finally get to the Junction, and Dan had already left at that point.  We did get to chat with a few of the group, but they went on ahead.  Sandwiches at the Junction take a while, and that meant we’ll most likely not see anyone the rest of the day.  I saw Britpower, who was leading the Cinderella training ride today.  No wonder we saw so many riders on Mines Road today.  I wasn’t sure if this was the norm, but it was good to see so many riders out today.

Britpower was waving a number of times at me today, but I was so out of it and tired, I didn’t recognize her, until she came up to me face to face.  Duh.  All I knew was I needed food in my stomach.  I could feel I was hungry about 3 miles before the Junction.

Beginning of the grind on the backside of Hamilton

Finally got our lunch, and we headed out towards Hamilton around 1 pm.  I knew at this point I would not be able to catch up with anyone else.  Yu Hua and I traded leads for the first several miles or so, until Yu Hua’s legs got into gear, and then it was a slow grind up the backside.

All along I knew this was just the beginning.  Yes, I do see the mileage markers on the road, but what I was really looking for was the bridge, because that’s when I know the real climbing starts.  Cross through about 3 or 4 cattle grates, and then finally, the bridge.

12% Climb

From this point on, it’s 12-14% climbs up until about 1.5 miles from the summit.  This is really where you have to dig down deep into the pit of your soul, and muster more energy to just turn the crank.

2 Miles to the Summit. What a welcome sight to see.

And of course, I was so happy to see the 2 mile marking on the road.  Although there is still a bit of climbing left to do, I knew the end was near.

Summit is right around the corner

A little further up the climb, then I see the big 120-inch telescope Observatory … ah the worst is over.

Once at the summit, I get a text message from Ramon.  Chris is not feeling well, and a bunch of folks decide to skip Sierra.  It’s 3:09 pm, and I need to get going if I want to finish the ride in daylight.  So I made the decision to skip Sierra too.  By the time I get to the base of Sierra, it’s already 4:31 pm … uh no, definitely not doing Sierra.  Plus, my legs just don’t have the energy to even make it up the first bump.

I finally made it back to Fremont Bart at 5:54 pm, and without needing lights.  I later saw a tweet from Dan at 6:18 pm, indicating he just finished.  This was one tough ride, and simulated actually doing DMD.  So should I even consider doing DMD?  Well, after this ride experience, I would say an emphatic NO!!!!  I think I’ll just stick to volunteering this ride.  I’m glad I did it, and even more glad that I made it all the way through.  I think this training ride is overkill for preparation for Solvang, but it should all be good.

For more pics, go to https://picasaweb.google.com/ronster/MinesRdHamilton#

Here is the strava stats: