Tag Archives: Quimby

Quimby and Sierra, a Bay Area Climbfest

Karen came up to visit in the Bay Area, so we decided to do Quimby and Sierra.  We did Quimby once before, so she knows how intense that climb is.  This time, we are adding Sierra into the mix.  She’s heard so much about Sierra, so it’s time to acquaint her with Sierra.


I decided to start the ride at the base of Mt. Hamilton, so we can get some warm up climbs in.  We started out looking for a road that climbs up that would take us down to eventually meet up with Quimby, but I got ourselves lost.  In fact, I found ourselves going around in a circle.  So much for using the Garmin for mapping out route. However this did give us a really short, but very steep hill, just to get our legs used to the pain.

Ok, over to Quimby we go. This is the first time doing Quimby on the Volagi, compact double, so I have a little fear that I won’t be able to make it up, since the previous times were with a triple. First time for everything, right?

Karen is a stronger climber than me, so I tried to stay with her on the hill as long as I can. That kinda helped me get a PR on the first third of Quimby segment, but was not able to maintain that for the whole climb.


The upper section was definitely much tougher. I got into my lowest gear possible to try to soon as much as I could up, but sometimes the intensity of the grade makes it difficult to spin. At this point I was wondering whether or not I should have brought the Seven.


Cadence was much slower but was still able to spin the cranks. I get to the last switchback, which is the toughest, and I stand, lean in, tack, do anything to keep moving. No matter what, I did not want to get off the bike. Somehow I made it through, and finally get up to the top, and well deserved rest, waiting for my heartbeats to go down to a respectable level.

We now descend Mt. Hamilton Road. Quimby actually takes us halfway up Hamilton, so after a few rollies, a nice descent back to the start. I had my baselayer on and it was way too warm for that, so I took that off, dumped it in the car.

Off to Sierra we go, following the DMD route markers on the street. I tell Karen to look up at what’s ahead, and OMG was the reaction. Let the suffering begin.


I normally do this climb as the first one of the day, but I already have a lot of climbing done in the legs, so I’m not expecting a great time on this. Karen paces up ahead of me, so it’s just me, the shadows off my wheel that I’m looking at on the ground, the sound of my rotor, and the sound of rubber as in climbing this. There’s nothing else v on my mind at this point, just concentrating on pedaling, and hearing those sounds of solitude.


There are a number of riders on this road (more than on Quimby) and all of them passing me. At least that gave me something else too concentrate on, but I still didn’t want to look up too much. I needed to stay within my own pace. Once again, I had to fight within myself to keep pedaling, and not stop, no matter how much my legs were screaming. I’m just remembering what it has printed on my bike … the will to go. Encouragement from the guys passing me also helps. That’s what I love about cycling and climbing these hills … a deep respect.


One final push … I see a group waiting at the top, and just pedaling with enough force just to keep moving. I’m definitely not making a final sprint up to the summit like I normally do. Success at last.

After a final rest, it’s over the other side and a descent down to go back to the cars. We were originally thinking of extending the ride, but I think our legs were saying enough. Besides, it’s not about the miles today, it’s all about the climbing. Awesome ride. Awesome climbfest!

Here’s the strava link … short but epic http: //app.strava.com/activities/53675317

Metcalf and Quimby – Tough but Short

My friend Karen was up here visiting her folks, and she heard a lot of good things about the Metcalf climb.  I figured I could lead her on this ride, and while we are at it, might as well attack Quimby as well.  Karen is a really strong climber, and I figured she’d love climbing both.

The challenge was designing the route.  Sure, the route to Metcalf, and over to Quimby was not too bad, but I had the route go from Quimby, down Mt. Hamilton, then over to Alum Rock.  Now how will we get from Alum Rock back to the cars?  So this was really two different rides … the first was nice scenic, good climbs, the second was flat, urban riding, with tons of car traffic.  I’m not looking forward to that part of the ride.

We started from Lake Alamaden Park, which is a couple miles from where Karen stayed.  This is so Karen wouldn’t have to worry about driving to unfamiliar territory … she’ll just have to follow me through unfamiliar territory instead.  The ride went out on Almaden Expressway, en route through McKean.  The traffic is not bad on Almaden, because it has nice wide bike lanes.

McKean is a nice road, which is lightly traveled by cars.  It’s like an old country road, and it’s a nice fairly flat road to warm up the legs.  We had a nice screaming descent down Bailey, which took us through more country roads, before we hit Metcalf.

Okay, enough teasing, time for some real climbing.  There was no doubt about this climb, as when we first approach it, we can see the road go vertical.  This is where I told Karen “meet you at the top, by the motocross entrance”.  This is where I see her pinkness forge on ahead of me.  This is normal, Karen usually drops a lot of guys on climbs like this.  Oh, BTW, did I mention she’s a strong climber?

It took a little while to just get into a rhythm, but once there, it wasn’t too bad.  Still, Karen was way too far ahead of me to reel her in, so just gotta keep within my pace.  I did stop once to take a couple of pics, but otherwise, I kept on going.

There is a motorcycle park at the top, and it’s interesting to see cars towing dirt motorcycles up this hill, just to ride in the park.  I kept thinking, why not just ride the motorcycle up the hill, instead of towing it on a car?  Maybe it’s just the environmentalist in me.  Anyhow, it was nice to hear the sound of motorcycles from the park, because I knew the summit was near.

All smiles at the summit.  It turns out I got a PR out of that, by 3 minutes.  Wow, funny how you’d get PR’s without even trying, and when you do try, your performance sucks.

Ok, now time for the descent down Metcalf, to San Felipe, and onto Quimby.  Actually, the descent was nice, with hardly any car traffic at all.  We had a few short bumps along the way, but otherwise, it was downhill, and flat until we made the right turn onto Quimby.

Having already done this last week, I didn’t feel the need to record another video.  Once again, Karen charged up ahead of me.  It was a little more difficult this time, because I didn’t have a large group of riders to help pace me up, and I had to stop a few times.  There were some really tough 20% stretches here.  It was just relentlessly tough, especially those two quick switchbacks.

Now that we made it to the summit, there was the issue of getting back to the cars.  We could either go straight back down Quimby, or continue down Mt. Hamilton.  I figured we would have a tough time traffic wise regardless of which way we go, so we went down Quimby, and took Mt. Hamilton down.  Beside, descending Mt. Hamilton is just so much fun.

The way back, we headed down White, and some parts of it were not bike friendly.  There was still riding room, but no bike lanes, until we got a little further south.  Riding through here reminded me a little like riding through parts of Montebello and East LA.  This was not the hard part … the hard part was going through Capitol Expressway.  There was one section where they closed off two lanes, and we were able to take up the closed lane, until the part where they were doing the repavement.  Then, we got to the 101 overpass, and no room for a bike to cross on.  With the heavy traffic, crossing on Capitol was not an option.  We had to re-route, going south to hit Yerba Buena, then over.  At least this way, we didn’t have cross over 101, but under.  We eventually got back onto Capitol.

We went back through Guadalupe Bike Trail, which was nice.  Most importantly, we averted the expressways, and we eventually got back to the park via bike trails.  This was a nice way back, but hell of a way to get here.

It was a great ride, and with great company.  Thanks Karen for the company, and glad you had a great time too.  Next time, I’ll have to find a good way to get from Alum Rock to Almaden Lake.

Here’s the strava link:  http://app.strava.com/rides/25600409#

Quimby LKHC and the Adventures Getting There

I decided to ride over to the start of the LKHC on Quimby. I decided to use ridewithgps, and plot a route to the start. I then exported it to my Garmin. I figured I would follow the course on my Garmin. Great idea, right? Well, it got me lost. I probably should experiment with this a bit more before trying this the next time.

I finally got my way to Tully, and I hooked up with Ben. Nice way to meet, eh? Well, this stretch of Tully was horrendous. Traffic was awful, even at 9 am on a Saturday morning. But I guess this is normal for Tully.

The start of the LKHC was up the road from the school, where we all checked in. It was about a 8% climb just to the start.

I wasn’t sure how well I would do on this ride. I don’t do this climb very much, plus I’ve been suffering through some pains in the lower back, so I’m trying to not strain it too much … Well, I say that now, but once I got to the climbs, I threw caution to the wind.

It was a mass start, and I started out near the back.  Most of the riders I talked to, who were around me, were of the sentiment of wanting to finish, and not too concerned about placing, or even placing in their own age category.  Since I had done this climb at least once before, I did have confidence that I could complete it … I just wasn’t sure how slow I’d be.

There were two runners on this climb … kinda weird to see two runners in a sea of cyclists going up this epic climb.  In fact, you might be able to see them in the video.

I ended up riding with about 3 other riders who were in my same ability.  We kept trading leads throughout the climb.  There was also a tandem out on this ride, and I used them to help me pace myself up the hill, before I just went ahead of them.

Probably the hardest part was the last two switchbacks, with grades in double digits.  It was just tough, and I could just hear my breathing, which kind of served as a metronome, to pace my way up.  I ended up passing the rest of the riders I was climbing with, and when I saw the big crowd hanging around at the top of the hill, I knew that was the finish … so I shifted up a couple of gears, and turned my body inside and out.

Photo courtesy Josh and Erica Hadley

I later found out I got a personal best out of this, by 4 minutes.  Official time was 35:34.  I’m pretty with this result, even though I was last in my age group (45+).  The important thing is I had fun.

Both Sides of Hamilton

This was an epic ride.  The ride was advertised as a 94 mile ride with 11,400 feet climbing.  Needless to say, this is not for the weak or weary.

There was a good turnout.  Marco, Ruth, Ramon, Michael, tall Chris, Ben, Donald, Matthew and I all came out.

The start of the ride went past Hamilton, and went onto Crothers Rd, for a warmup climb, to prepare us for Quimby.  Heavy rains eroded large portions of the road, which made it impossible to ride through in one section.  This made us have to walk our bike around the obstacle … and just our luck, right in the middle of the climb.

As we started the climb on Quimby, the weather was just perfect for climbing Quimby.  It was overcast, and very slight mist.  Good move to have the start so early, so we wouldn’t be suffering so much on Quimby.  I hung in with Michael and Chris, and we all helped each other complete this climb.  Thanks guys.  Wound up with a time of 35 minutes climbing this.  Just for comparison, when Marco did the LKHC, he did this in 25 minutes.  But hey, I made it without walking!  BTW, first time I climbed Quimby, I had to walk it, which immediately prompted me to swap out a double for a triple.

After a quick water stop, next destination is Kinkaid.  Something got into me, and suddenly I found myself at the front, drafting behind Ramon and Donald.  WTF?  I’m climbing up with the big boys!  What was even funnier was Donald looking back, and suddenly seeing me there.  Hey, what can I say … I was feeling good.  It wasn’t like I was really straining to keep up.  But it would catch up with me … we stopped at one potty stop, and regrouped.  After that, and some descending, I fell back, and when climbs started, I reeled back in my traditional position … in the back.

After regrouping at Kinkaid, it down into the canyon.  No one had ever been down Kinkaid before, so this would be an adventure for all of us.  What you’ll notice immediately is how smooth the road is.  Most of the time, when you go down into a canyon, it rough, cobble-stone like, but not this one.  The road was smooth as silk, and like riding on butter.

Kinkaid is not completely all downhill.  It descends 500 feet at a bridge, and we all thought this was the end … NOT.  We start climbing and climbing … and 500 feet later, we finally reach the end.

Now that we’ve come this far, time to head back, exactly where we came from … which means another down then up.  What I realize here is how close we are to the backroad canyons, ones that you would normally not see while on the climb to Hamilton.

If you look really closely, you’ll see the Mt. Hamilton Observatory in the distance.  That’s our next destination.

After getting back to Hwy 130, it’s onto the observatory.  My pace up the hill is not as vigorous as it was earlier in the ride, so I am stuck in the back again.  I do see Marco and Ruth in my sights, and I reach deep down, and get to within 100 yards, but could not close the gap any further.  Little did I know, they decided to kick it up another gear, and there goes the gap.  At this point, I’m running low on water, and that observatory better come soon.  With about one drink left on my bottle, I finally reach the observatory.  Whew!

Of course, when you’re up here, you gotta take a scenic picture.

I was originally going to just head back to the start, but everyone else was going down the backside (a really long out and back).  But I was not going to be the only one to go back, so I ended up going too.

It’s 17 miles out to “The Junction”, near Del Puerto Rd.  The descent is steep and fast.  But as I said before, where you’ve gone down, you’ve gotta come up.

After about 8-9 miles descending, the terrain goes flatter, and then come the rollies.  It’s still at least another 12 miles, and it just keeps going on and on.  Michael got really fed up with it for a while, and graciously waited for me.  Big big thank you, Michael.  That really made the ride over the last 6 miles a little more saner (even though we were both bitchin’ and moaning about the ride).

We finally got to a junction, but both of us, for the life of us, couldn’t really see where this restaurant is.  Then, suddenly, Donald comes by and rescues us, and leads the way to where everyone is munching on lunch.  It may not be much, but at least it is food.

By the time we finish lunch, and on the way back, it’s around 3pm.  Everyone is eager to get the hell out of here, and everyone tries to get into whatever draft they can.  I was lucky enough to hook up with Michael and Chris.  Chris … thank you for the huge draft.  Of course, the fast boys tucked in with Marco and Ruth, but they were so far ahead of me, I couldn’t tell where they were.  Unfortunately, Matt was one that didn’t take advantage of it.  Sorry Matt … that must have been tough battling the headwinds alone.

The long climb started with about 8 miles to go.  We can see the mile markers painted visibly on the road.  It’s kind of good, but kind of bad to see these.  I think the hardest part of the climb came between 2-3 miles from the top.  After about 10,000 feet of climbing, you start reaching for any type of energy you have in you.

Seeing the 120 inch telescope observatory was such a welcome sight.  This meant I am just minutes away from the top.  The gang were hanging out, and Ramon had bought cokes for everyone, before they closed.  Thanks a bunch Ramon … that really felt good.

Totals … 94.1 miles, with 12,092 feet of climbing.  This was one of the toughest rides I’ve ever done, and definitely the toughest non-organized ride.  It definitely is the most climbing I have done for the entire year in one ride.  This ride was definitely epic!