Tag Archives: Mt. Umunhum

Umunhum on My Compact Double

I’ve done Mt. Umunhum a number of times, but it has always been on my triple.  It’s time to try it on my compact double.  I won’t be breaking any records, and just want to finish it.

Unlike before, I did make a number of stops.  I guess I won’t be getting any PRs on the climb.  The last time I attempted this on my Volagi, I didn’t make any stops, but I really paid for it at the end.  I ended up bailing after about 1 miles on Mt. Umunhum Road.

It started out pretty warm .. I started at 9 am, and even then, I was just in shorts and no arm warmers or jacket (although I carried them with me, just in case).  It’s a good thing I did, because as I started climbing towards Umunhum, the fog was shrouding the  mountain.



I later found out there were expected wind gusts, so that’s why the fog was moving around the mountain peaks so much.  However, as far as gusty winds, it really didn’t affect my climbing at all.  The temps were still okay .. however, I did notice my Garmin was at 90 F at the base of Mt. Umunhum Road (although the bike was sitting in the sun), and the closer I got to the top, the temperature dropped into the 60s.

I did get passed by several people while on Umunhum, but I didn’t pass anyone.  This kinda tells you how tough this climb is.

I did get passed by this other woman, who was just behind me.  She passed me almost with ease … but she did give me motivation going up the last part of that ramp!  Thank you!

When I got to the top, it was all foggy, and I thought, “I’m in the clouds”.  Even though it’s foggy up here, it isn’t down in the valley.



Ok, time for the descent.  It’s a bit chilly up here, and it’s a good thing I had arm warmers and a vest.  I think a jacket may have been a bit too much, so this is perfect.  Now for a big drop in descent, from 3300 feet, down to 500 feet.  Unfortunately, this means that there may be some timid cars descending the hill … I guess that’s what good brakes are for.

Remember how I said it was forecast to be windy???  Well, I found out when I got off the mountain.  It was really swirling and windy down below.  You wouldn’t have guessed it if you climbed Umunhum today.


Tearing Myself Inside and Out up Mt. Umunhum to the White Line of Death

Profile for Mt. Umunhum LKHC Week 6, http://lowkeyhillclimbs.com/2014/week6/profile.png

I’ve done Mt. Umunhum many times before, so this LKHC shouldn’t be anything out of the ordinary. When I read the LKHC web site, it was claiming that this is the highest rated climb of any of the LKHC. Now I know it is tough, but I still think it’s doable … so reading that it is the toughest came as a real surprise to me. It is true that in the past, I usually take a rest after taking the right turn onto Mt. Umunhum, and in this ride there was no stopping … but damn!

Courtesy William von Kaenel

There was roughly 128 riders, and taking a look at all the riders, I thought “What have I gotten myself into?” Plus, when I stepped up to register, I saw this really young looking chap in USA jersey … I wasn’t sure if this was something someone had just bought at a bike shop … and then when he announced his name, Adrien … everyone then said “Oh, that Adrien” … for those that don’t know, this is Adrien Costa. Ok, we all know he will be the first one to finish.

Registration was at Venture Christian Church, which was 4 miles from the start of the climb.  The plan was to ride over to the start, and then start the climb.  But I know this road, and the run up to the start is not flat at all … there are rolling hills, and one section that is a bit steep, and it’s not even part of the LKHC.  So Sandra and I decided to just ride up ahead.  Never before did I ride this stretch of Hicks, just for a warm up ride.

When we did start, I made sure I was off the back.  This was a mass start, and eventually, everyone spread out after about 1/4 mile up the climb … and it was a steep climb.  I mean, 20 yards into it, we’re grinding it up a 15% grade.

As long as I had someone in my sights, it still gave me motivation to continue pushing up the hill.  In the 1.2+ mile section of Hicks, I was still in contact with the riders ahead of me.  We make the right turn on Mt. Umunhum, and then it continues on some more.  At this point, I usually stop off at the bathroom, and take a little breather, but not today.  I didn’t feel dead at this point, so I felt confident enough to continue up the hill.

Courtesy Mark King

Photo coutesy Bill Bushnell

Photo coutesy Bill Bushnell

After about a mile of 15%+, this was just the start, and more 15% climbs up ahead.  The fact that we’re able to sustain the steep part of Hicks seems to make the Umunhum part of the climb not so bad.  I figure, if I could make it up Hicks, my body is already used to the pain, so just continue it for another couple more miles! I guess that’s why stating this is the most difficult climb of the LKHC season seemed a little odd. I guess it’s all a matter of perspective.

As soon as I started thinking about how it’s not the most difficult, I sense others starting to pass me. I was thinking I was alone on the climb, and then I hear someone else’s gear grinding … Damn, I’m losing ground, and then I start ending up in the back.

I start seeing fast riders heading down the hill, and normally that would demoralize any rider, but on this ride, it’s expected. I just have to make sure I stay on my side of the road. Passing the gate at Bald Mountain, people are cheering us on, ringing their cowbells, it’s very motivating. I only wish I had a line of people ringing cowbells all the way to the end.

Courtesy Ryan PC Gibson

Courtesy Ryan PC Gibson

White Line of Death Courtesy Rich Hill

I finally made it to the finish, and I was sure I was the last one … But I forgot there was one other behind, who I saw as I descended down the hill. Major kudos to everyone who finished this epic climb. I can only imagine how epic this will be when it’s officially (and legally) opened to the top of the mountain. It will make other mountain challenges pale in comparison.

Here’s a portion of the climb I recorded on my Shimano Sports Camera

No I’m Not Driving at 2 am for 2 Hours then Ride a Double

I signed up for Davis Double, but I didn’t reserve the day off like I normally do.  Things happened all of a sudden, and with my worries with my Debit Card, I didn’t think about taking a PTO day and renting a motel the night before.  So this meant waking up really early Saturday morning, driving at 2 am for 2 hours, checking in, then ride for 14+ hours.  When I finally got everything together, my mind was not on the mood, so I went back to sleep.

It was a shame because a bunch of my friends are riding it, and it would have been cool to ride with them.  After my DNF at DMD, I didn’t do much riding at all.  I had my list DL and debit c to deal with … I was on call, so no riding on the weekend, and I had to waste another Saturday waiting for my replacement card via UPS.  My only real riding was last Sunday, and even on that, I was suffering and a fairly flat 62 miler.  Basically, I lost core fitness, and not really ready for a double.


To make up for it, I decided to do a pretty tough 50 miler up Mt. Umunhum.  At first, I would see how I feel climbing up Kennedy, and if I felt well enough, I’d do Hicks, and then if I’m up for it, Mt. Umunhum.


I surprised myself that I was able to make it to the corner of Hicks and Mt. Umunhum Rd.  Since I’m here, what the heck, let’s continue. 


It always amazes me that I never see any other cyclists up this road.  I know others climb this, but I hardly ever see any others when I do this solo.  Or an I just that insane?  Don’t answer that!


As I get closer, I can see the cube at the top of the mountain.  Currently, it’s off limits, and looking forward to when they open that up to the public.  It would be one hell of a chimbfest though.


I’m kind of lucky that the weather cooperated nicely … Temp was in the high 70s, so heat exhaustion wouldn’t be creeping up on me.  I think that helped me get to the Umunhum gate.


I continued past this gate, and the further I went up the steeper the climb got.  Funny how that works out.  It also slowed me down a lot.  I know I’m pretty close to the no trespass line, and its not much to see there.  I figured I shouldn’t kill myself to get to that spot, so now is as good a time to turn around. 

As I’m on my way back, I do notice my back aching a little bit.  This must mean my core strength has gone south.  My endurance is shot, and this makes me glad I bailed on the Double.  I continued on, and was ok as long as there are not too many hills.  This just means I need to do some abs work, planks, and just keep working on endurance rides.  Daily commute are not helping on endurance. But at least I was able to complete Mt. Umunhum, which is no easy feat.

Stats: 56.5 miles, 4164 feet climbing

Don’t You Dare Turn Back – HTFU

The day started out a little slow.  I felt a little twinge in my back, which was kind of limiting how much power I can output on the bike.  Plus, it was a little overcast, and it felt a little cool.  I was not going very fast.

Ok, first climb of the day is Kennedy, a short 1 mile climb, with about 300 feet climbing.  Not too bad right?  But my thought was just get to the top then see how I feel.

I took a nice break, then down the hill.  I figured I would soft pedal for a little bit.  Well, I figured I have gone this far, just keep the pedals cranking.  The smaller hills somehow helped get myself into the groove, enough to just spin away at high cadence, and make it up Hicks.  If I feel weak, I can just head back down the hill.

I made it to the top of Hicks.  I definitely want breaking ant records today, but it did feel good making it up there.  I guess I channeled my inner Jens today.


I was spinning around the parking lot so I decided to soon a little bit up Umunhum.  Spinning turned into climbing … and yup, you guessed it …. I climbed up Umunhum.  Amazing how the battle off mind over matter goes. I guess my stubbornness and not giving up is a result of this.

I’m glad I did go up … spectacular views up there






Enjoying The New Ride on My Volagi


This was the first weekend I had to give the Volagi a good test, so I decided to ride up Hicks and Mt. Umunhum on Saturday, and OLH and the chipsealed Skyline on Sunday.

I was actually quite worried about Hicks and Mt. Umunhum, because it is really steep (stupid steep) and before, I did this on a triple.  I’m riding a compact double on my Volagi.  On the low end, I’m losing 3 teeth, so it will be harder.

Riding a compact double, I almost had to re-learn how to ride, or how to shift.  I didn’t have the luxury of going into my middle chaining, so I guess it’s either all or nothing.  Getting to the base of the steep climb of Hicks, I was riding incredibly well, and I figured it’s just a matter of time before everyone starts passing me, but that didn’t happen.  I was in my lowest 34-28 gearing, and I seemed to be passing almost everyone in the group.  Wow, am I really that strong, or is the novelty of the new bike giving me extra adrenaline to go up the hill.

We re-grouped at the base of Mt. Umunhum, giving us a little time to catch our breath. That one stretch of Hicks was brutally tough and steep, and although the beginning of Umunhum looked tough, it wasn’t as bad as the tough part of Hicks. After the first few switchbacks, it seemed to either level off, or the legs just got used to the pain and torture.


We all kept going up to the no trespassing sign. I had forgotten how tough the last part after the gate was, and I ended up having to tack it. I still think I would have done the same thing if I had my triple.


Now the true test … the descent … the road is about as chopped up as you can possibly imagine. When we got to the bottom, we were all wincing from the jarring our hands, backs and legs felt. So this is what it’s like to ride cobbles? This Volagi performed well, and I could really appreciate the design after going through this ride. I’ve done this before on my Seven, but I think I felt better after riding this on my Volagi.

The next day, I took a ride up Old La Honda, and was able to put in a decent time, 28 minutes. I was impressed by that, since the last few times on it, I mustered 30 minutes. It still is 4 minutes off my PR, but it’s a time I feel good about. I then took this on Skyline, which has rough chipseal. Again, I didn’t feel as much suffrage on this, so I’ve gotta say kudos to the engineering and design of this bike. I think this will be less fatiguing for me on long rides.

Rain is Gone … time to visit Mt. Umunhum

Rain storm has passed on gone by, so today was just a matter of wet roads as remnants of the storm.  I was originally trying to plan a bikeforums reunion ride for today, but threats of rain prompted me to cancel that ride.  I guess I overreacted … it would have been a good day to do that, but not a whole lot of people were available.

So I thought I’d do Mt. Umunhum.  One day after a rain storm, I figured we’d get some nice views … and it didn’t disappoint.

I did have more pictures that I took with my actual camera, and not my phone.  Bad move … my flash disk on the camera got corrupted, so all the pictures I took are lost.  😦

There is just something about Mt. Umunhum.  Yes, you have to suffer through climbing Hicks, but once you get onto Mt. Umunhum Road, the views are amazing.  Not many climb this, and I can’t figure out why.  It’s a tough climb .. so maybe it scares everyone away?  Maybe I should create an id UmunhumRon …. Probably won’t catch on.


You Mean You Don’t Have Monday 1/3/11 Off???

I was fortunate to get the Monday after New Year’s off.  I guess they figured 2 days to give us an extra day to round out the number of holidays, and I thought everyone had that day off too … well, I was wrong.  My friend Jack thought he had the day off, so I was going to meet him in Palo Alto to do King’s Mountain … but reality sunk him … everyone’s in the office.  Oh well, so I guess I had to go to Plan B …. Mt. Umunhum.

One thing I had to realize … since a lot of other people went back to work today, riding through busier streets are a bit more dangerous.  I realized that really quickly, when a Prius was breathing down my back as I was in the right turn lane.  Jeez!

I was lucky to get at least one day without rains, but it was still a cold adventure out there.  It started out pretty sunny, but as luck would have it, the further I climbed, the cloudier, and colder it got.  The cold really does affect my performance, and I was not really feeling it out there … I was not out to break any speed records, so I saved myself, as the steep part on Hicks really sucks.

Made it this far, might as well head up to Umunhum

Well, I made it this far, and Mt. Umunhum is just ahead … might as well forge ahead and say hello to the white albino.  When you look at the hill from the parking lot, it looks really steep, but when you start going, it’s really not that bad.  Of course, on a sunnier day, the view would be awesome, but beggars can’t be choosers.

The cube, is so close, yet so far away

Of course, with any climb, the more you climb, the steeper it gets.  Why is that?  Anyhow, at least I didn’t have to worry about dehydration too much … sunshine is not an issue here, but I wish it were just a little warmer.  I did see one other cyclist ahead of me … he was definitely not in a hurry … he had mountain biking gearing, with what looked like a 32-34, or something like that.  However, I did seem to be breathing much harder than he was.

Overlooking Silicon Valley from Mt. Umunhum

I get to the gate, and I could go up some more, till I get to the no trespassing banner, but I just wasn’t in the mood today.  I was content with just enjoying what view I have before me.

And now the fun part … or the scary part … descending back down the hill.  The terrain wasn’t as bad as I remember it, but maybe it’s because the last time, I went up a little further, and it had more potholes.  Whatever … all I knew was I was not in a hurry to get down.  Actually, the switchbacks descending Umunhum wasn’t too bad … it’s when you get down on Hicks, on the steep section, what can be a bit hairy.

Coming back, all I knew is I wanted some hot soup.  Just hope I don’t catch a cold from this.

80 Degrees in California … Great Weekend for a Bike Ride


Last time I checked the calendar, it is November … Christmas is one month away … and it was in the mid-70’s, low 80’s.  This is why we live in California … why we pay so much to live here.  This is great!  Couldn’t ask for a more perfect day … the above photo was taken on Saturday.

Believe it or not, it was even better on Sunday.  Knowing the weather would remain great, I decided to finally do the famous Mt. Umunhum.  Want more information on Mt. Umunhum?  Check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Umunhum .

In order to get to Mt. Umunhum, we had to first climb Hicks, which is not small chore either.  I’d really categorize the climb as starting on the steep section of Hicks, then continuing onto Mt. Umunhum.  That’s about 4 miles of 12-18% climb, all the way to the end of the public road on Mt. Umunhum.  This was one real ass wooping climb … one of those where you wish you were at the end, even though you just started the climb.

Had some great views from up top.  I thought it would be windy at the top but it wasn’t too bad.  However, coming down, the winds started really swirling.  I think the winds may just have picked up later in the day, which meant for a pretty hairy descent.  I was riding the brakes, pretty much all the way down from Umunhum … the road was pretty chewed up, but that gave time to reflect on some amazing views from there.

After doing the climbs, coming down from the mountain, you really get a sense of how tough this climb was.  No words can describe it, but all I can remember was myself saying “holy shit, this thing is steep”.  I’m just glad I was able to climb it.  I just knew visibility would be crystal clear, and what better time to climb Mt. Umunhum than today.