A Social Ride up Page Mill

Meetup Group at the start of the ride, before the climb up Page Mill

Is it even possible to have a social ride, climbing up Page Mill Road?  Well, after Sunday, I have to say, yes, it is possible.

It was a pretty good size group, and I think we were all around the same skill level, so that made the ride even more pleasant.

I normally would make my way to Arastradero and Page Mill, or even start from Foothill and Page Mill, but on this ride, we wound our way through residential neighborhoods, and a climb up Taaffe Road … nice alternative to Altimont.  We got onto Page Mill at Altimont, and that’s where the social conversations stopped, and the breathing began.

We did have a short water stop right before the ramp, and last hard climbing on this stretch.  It was surprising to hear a lot of people didn’t even know about this water spiggot.  Personally, I don’t really find it’s critical if all you are doing is just the Page Mill climb … the only climbing left is just the ramp after that, and the rest is fairly flat … but that’s just me.

Water Spiggot on Page Mill

We proceeded to head south on Skyline towards Hwy 9. Now there is chipseal on Skyline, but it is still rideable … a little rough but actually rideable.

I was trying to upload this to Strava, but it had problems.  I had previously, erroneously, exported a video file onto my Garmin … I had the Garmin loaded as an external drive, and I forgot that it filled up the flash drive on my Garmin.  As a result, it could not upload the data, as it could not write.  Oops … Oh well …. it would have been nice to see the data, but shit happens.

Another 30 Days of Biking #30daysofbiking

The third revision of the 30daysofbiking initiated on April 1st.  So am I going to do it … but of course.  Part of this was inspired by podcasts of bicycleradio.  The concept is simple … get on your bike once a day for 30 days, and document it either through blogs, twitter, facebook, or any means, and post it onto 30daysofbiking.com.  It doesn’t matter how long, how far, just as long as it involves you on a bike.  I do it mainly to keep getting into people’s minds that bicycling is a valid means of transportation (even if you do have a car).

Early morning commute on San Tomas Aquino Bike Trail

So what did I do on the first day … well, of course, I rode into work.  It’s still dark at 6 am, so gear up with as many blinkies as possible, get my bright HID on, and ride the trail.

I planned ahead, and stored an extra pair of shoes in the office (so I wouldn’t have to carry them on the commute).  So I only really was carrying my work clothes.  After work, I leave my work clothes at the office (to be picked up later), then ride with just the jersey and shorts I’m wearing, and head off to Page Mill Road.  It was also a great day out, with temps still in the 80’s by the time I got off work.

There were a bunch more people out on the road, and that’s great to see.  In fact, at one intersection, there were 4 bikes waiting for the light.  I should have taken a pic, but they would probably think I’m some sort of wacko.

My destination was station 4 on Page Mill Road.  that is the steepest part of Page Mill, and I figure that should be sufficient (so that I could get back home without needing lights).  I did see quite a few cyclists bombing down the hill.  They looked too old to be Stanford students, but maybe they are grad students.  Anyhow, I waved to them.

There were a few that were still climbing Page Mill.  I didn’t get passed by anyone (surprisingly).  I took a picture of one who was behind me … I think if we started at the same point, we probably would have arrived at the same time, but I think he was going to make it all the way to the top.

It was a nice wrap up to a hectic week.  30 days of biking is in full swing.  One down, 29 to go.

Portola State Park LKHC – Not For the Weak and Timid


Start of LKHC ... Also entrance to the state park


This week’s LKHC was interesting.  It starts out at the entrance to Portola State Park, and it climbs up to West Alpine, and continues there to the summit.  They had us all check in at Montebello Open Space Preserve, just below the summit at Skyline on Page Mill.  Then, we rode down 2000 feet at the entrance of the state park, where we waited, and waited, and waited.

I decided to ride over, via Moody then Page Mill.  Just so that I would still have legs, I took it easy going up, and left really early (around 7:30 am from my house).  It was really foggy, but the sun was starting to come out.


View from Page Mill overlooking Silicon Valley


Once I got to some decent elevation (~ 1800 feet), I climbed above the clouds, and got some spectacular views.  Leaving so early, I could tell I would be a little early to registration, so that did give me some opportunity to take some pictures.

Knowing that everyone would want to hit the bathroom, as soon as I got myself registered, I immediately headed for Russian Ridge, where they have a bathroom.  Ahhh, that felt good.  Went back to meet up with Chris, Donald, Marco, Ruth, just to head back where I was, then head down to the start at the entrance of the park.  This was a long way down, and it takes a little while to get to.  We had pretty good representation of bikeforums on this LKHC.  We had 6 members of our team, pretty good representation.  It remains to be seen how high we place as a team.

They told us it would start around 10:15 am, but by that time, we still could only see a handful of cyclists.  My bet was they were waiting above the start, so they could get some sun (it was a bit cool in the shade where we were).  Some of the cyclists were hovering in front of the state park sign, so some of the cars who wanted to enter the park didn’t know if they were at the right place.  Ooops.


Pack of cyclists arriving at the start of the LKHC


From the start, we immediately have to climb, about a 15% grade.  So already, we have to make sure we are in our granny gear.  That caused a lot of cyclists to not being able to clip in, and not go off to the greatest starts (um, like me).

I was positioned near the front, which was not the best place, since I know people will be passing my left and right, and they were.  I was just fearing I would be DFL (dead fucking last).  But there were a few people I was able to pass, so that helped build my confidence a little bit.  Marco and Ruth were still just ahead of me, and they were in my sights, so that also helped me out a little bit.

Climbing out of the park would have to be the toughest part.  It had 15% stretches then down to 8 then back up to 15%.  But at least I descended this hill first, so I know what to expect and when the climbing gets easier … did I say climbing gets easier???


Climbing out of Portola State Park

Now that we’re out of the park, at least we will be a little warmed up by the sun.  I’m working really hard to close the gap with Marco and Ruth, but they are still at least 1000 yards ahead of me.  I gotta somehow dig down deeper, in the pit of my gut, to get those extra watts of power to get up this hill.  I guess that’s where the face of agony comes in as evidence in the picture below.


Face of Agony

Showing this agony seemed to have helped.  I could see my gap shorting now to Marco and Ruth.  I finally was able to catch them, but I was really dying.  There’s only so much energy a man can muster and only so hard he can be inhaling and exhaling our out of his lungs.

I finally am able to pass them, then eventually I pass another rider.  I’m very close to the finish, as I can see with the “200 paces to go” sign.  I have just enough energy to up shift a couple of gears, and gut it all out.


Approaching the summit/finish


Coming around the corner, one of the riders off to the side was yelling words of encouragement and motivation, and that really did help a lot.  It’s amazing how much support you’ll get from your fellow riders.  Finally, I see the finish, but stupid me … I let up just before the actual line, so I actually coasted the last 100 feet.  Doh!  Well, it probably didn’t lose too much time .. maybe 5 seconds or so.  I wound up in 101st place, with a time of 40:07 (which is still a little longer than what strava is saying … it indicates 39:53).  As a team, bikeforums.net came in 6th place (just 2 points behind Penn Velo … damn, it’s that last 100 feet of coasting that probably did it).

For the whole ride, I ended up with 53.3 miles, 5067 feet climbing.  It was a great day for this ride … not too hot, not cold, and no rain … plus, I got to finish my ride by 1 pm.  Woohoo!!!!

Take Weather Forecasts with a Grain of Salt

If you are a cyclist, like myself, you normally keep an eye on weather forecasts, so you’ll know how to dress, and what to expect on your ride.  This weekend, we were going to have an epic ride in the East Bay which started at 8 am.  However, as I was getting prepared for that ride, I saw that the ground was wet.  As I stepped outside, it was actually raining.  The ground was wet as can be, so after tweeting a few other of my buddies local to me, none of them really wanted to go climbing Sierra on wet roads.  So we decided to wait till later.  I looked at the weather forecasts, and one of them, weatherunderground, was reporting light rain and drizzle … no duh … I could see that!  However, weather.com and accuweather.com, made no mention … no mention at all about rain, or wet roads … not even mentioning drizzle.


Looking at weatherunderground, it mentions it will be clearing by 10 am.  Ok, fine, we’ll start our ride up Page Mill, then down to San Gregorio, then finish coming up Tunitas Creek.  Nice plan, right?  Marco and Ruth would be heading out and meet us somewhere in San Gregorio, so that would be perfect.

We went up Altamont (kinda eerie for me, because that’s the same road where I went down, although it was in the opposite direction).  So far, no issues … pretty dry.  Left turn up Page Mill, and on we go.  About half way up, we could see the fog shrouding the hillside, so one of my fears was how foggy it would get to the top.  So far, temperature-wise, I was okay.  There was a mist around us, and I could tell I’m getting a little damp from the dew of the fog, but I was still fairly warm.

Marco and Ruth called, and they were bailing on the ride.  It was raining too much on their side, so we’ll see how the rest of the ride goes for us.

After we got past gate 4, things started to turn on us.  The fog got heavier and heavier, and glasses really started to fog up, to the point where it was really difficult to see out of them.  I kept mine on, as there was still some parts of my glasses where there was a clear vision.  The fog turned to a heavy mist, which then turned to a constant drizzle.  Near the top, I could definitely tell it was getting colder, but at least we were still climbing.  That would at least keep our body temperature up a little bit.  The drizzle now was actually turning into rain, and we were really wet.  Finally reaching the top, and we could not see a thing.  We saw a few riders coming southbound from Skyline, saying that the visibility was almost nil, that you could hardly see anything.  That was enough for us to not continue on our original plan.


We were originally going to go down to the coast, but with this fog and low visibility, we thought better of it.  First, we had to descend quite a bit, and that’s not good news with low visibility.  Second, we were all getting cold, and cold just does not do well for cycling, especially with a long ride that we had planned.  So the plan was to bail on the original ride, and just head back down.


Going down, I was going to take my time.  I do not want to suffer the same fate from a year ago, where I went down on Altamont on slick roads that were even dryer than this.  Still, even at the slower than normal descending pace, my toes and fingers were getting really cold.  Water was seeping into my shoes, which just exacerbated the situation with my freezing extremities in my toes.  I took it really easy around the switchbacks, with no aggressive turns on the descent.  In fact, I was going so slow that Chris caught up to me, who is generally slower on the descent.  In fact, as he was passing me, he asked if I was okay.  I was thinking “yeah, not sure why you are asking” … Chris then mentions he didn’t think he would pass anyone at all.  I told him I would be going slow!

By the time we got to the lower section of Page Mill, the rain stopped, and there was even some sunshine.  My toes were still freezing, and the sunshine was just not strong enough to thaw out my toes.  Talk about Bay Area micro-climates!

As I looked towards the east, I could clearly see blue skies, and a few clouds, but definite signs that it was probably a bit warmer there.

On the climb up Page Mill, we all pretty much stuck together.  This is strange, as normally I would be caught alone on the climb … could it be I am getting that much better, or that the cold and damp is just sapping everyone to an even keel?  Possibly the latter.

I later found out from Donald that the roads descending Sierra were also wet.  I guess this is just a matter of high altitude and fog conditions … oh well.

Total stats, based on Ascent … 37.2 miles, 3101 feet climbing.  Hey, at least we got 3000+ feet climbing in on this day.  That’s not too shabby.


Trifecta – Page Mill, OLH, and King’s Mountain Road

You would think that a day after climbing Mt. Hamilton, 40 miles, and 5000 feet later, I would do a nice easy recovery ride ???  You gotta remember, who the blogger is … hehehe.

We haven’t had to wrecking crew out for a ride in a while, and although Chris is still in Texas, and Ruth is busy, I figured we can get Michael, Ramon, and Marco out.  Well, almost … Marco was committing, but there’s this thing called sleep that you need when you do a ride … he tweets us at 2:50 am, that he just got home.  I don’t think he’ll be with us.

So we all decided to meet at El Monte and Foothill, so we can do Moody, then Page Mill, OLH, and Kings.  I left around 7:15 am, so I can get my Bagel.  When I left, it was really foggy … I mean really dense fog.


After 20 minutes in this, I was dripping with dew.  Water was literally dripping from my helmet, and hoping the fog will clear up by the time we got to the peninsula … and it did.

Michael was running late, and says he’ll meet us at the top of Page Mill.  Ramon figured since he was running late, he was start out later, but I was already at El Monte, so I just decided to go, and met them at the top of Page Mill.

I wasn’t feeling the effects of Hamilton right away, so as I climbed Moody, I felt good.  Page Mill is never easy, but if you are not in a hurry, it’s not too bad.  Being the first at the top gave me an opportunity to rest while I waiting for the rest of the crew.

The topic of banter for the day was my triple … the fact that I still have one, while everyone else is on a compact double.  Michael and Ramon, keep wanting me to switch out my triple, because it’s extra weight, and that hampers my climbing.  Uh, no!  The main reason why I have the triple is to actually do some climbing.  I’ve been riding a triple ever since I moved up to the Bay Area, which is about 10 years.  One of these days, I’ll probably switch to a compact double, but I’m not ready to yet.  I guess that’s my Fred-ness.

Zipping down Skyline towards Woodside was fun.  Of course, with Ramon leading out, it made it that much more fun, a target that I can shoot for, and possibly draft off of.  A quick top off of water at 35/84, and down the hill we go, with OLH as our next hill climb.

When we got there, there was a big pack of about 20 riders also doing the climb.  We kind of melded in with the group, with Ramon and Michael charging ahead.  I stayed near the back.  I did start out in my big ring (possibly a mistake, after a fair amount of miles and climbing), and that didn’t last long before I shifted into my middle ring.  I definitely was not at the pace I was at LKHC.  I think the successive climbs have caught up to me.  By the time I made it to the top, it was 32 minutes later.  This is my normal time up the hill.

Started to get some straining in my lower back, but it wasn’t too bad, and I didn’t want to halt the ride at that point.  We forged on, with another water stop at Tripp Store.  Kings Mountain is next.

My legs had no life at this point, so Michael and Ramon climbed off in the distance.  I had no inkling to try to catch them, and my speed going up hill was very slow.  All I knew is that we started early, so I have plenty of time to finish the hill.  I needed my granny gear on the climb, from about the point where Huddard Park intersects with King’s Mountain, so I was grinding it out the rest of the way.  I did have some reserve left, near the end, where my speed picked up, and was able to cross Skyline in my middle chain ring … but that took a lot of effort!

So I finally did it … the trifecta, Page Mill, Old La Honda, and King’s Mountain.  I wasn’t breaking any personal records, but at least I made it all the way through.

Ride stats:

67.6 miles, 6270 feet climbing.  http://ridewithgps.com/trips/4948

Page Mill Weekend

For some reason, this was the weekend for Page Mill.  It was really really hot, steamy weekend, with temps in the mid to upper 90’s, and the only group rides were either Mt. Diablo or Mt. Hamilton.  Both of these rides are completely exposed, and just the thought of climbing these with temps in the upper 90’s … well it didn’t really appeal to me.  So, I decided to go local.

Saturday, my original goal was to go out to the coast, to Pescadero, and I figure I’d go out Page Mill.  So I started out going out via Mora, then over to Moody, and then catch Page Mill after the short, but really steep climb up Moody.  The further I got up Page Mill, the hotter it started getting.  There was definitely a section (before Gate 3), where the temp on the hill definitely got hotter.  The combination of the heat and the steep grade between gates 3 and 4 just started draining my energy … ok, it sapped my energy.  At this point, I just want to get done with this friggin hill.

Suddenly, my plans of going down Alpine, then Haskins Hill to Pescadero … was not appealing to me.  I decided to just head north on Skyline, then head home once I got to Woodside.  Surprisingly, Skyline was a lot cooler than I was anticipating.  It felt really good.  What’s also nice is picking up speed … going northbound on Skyline between Page Mill and 84 is really nice.  The reverse direction is definitely tougher, as you’d be climbing exactly the area where we are speeding through to Woodside.

By the time I got down the bottom of 84, I was just sweatin’ bullets.  I had to duck into Roberts, first to cool off, then to down a 16 oz of Gatorade in a matter of minutes.  Ah, that felt good.


Sunday, Jack wants to do Page Mill, so I figured, why not.  So for the second consecutive day, it’s Page Mill to Woodside for me.  Climbing Page Mill with someone definitely makes the climbing go by much faster.  It was a nice climb this time, and really enjoyed the company.  Thanks Jack.

Both days were about 50 miles, and roughly 3500 feet climbing.  One side note … it seems the connect.garmin.com and under-estimating the total climbing, by a large margin.  On Sunday’s ride, connect.garmin.com reported total elevation of 2862 ft, while Ascent, with the same data, reports 3283 ft.