I surely wouldn't do these rides if not for the need for training for DMD--now 2 weeks away. I had planned to skip the Club ride and solo up the back side (the short and steep side as opposed to the long and gradual front side) of Mt. Hamilton and then return the same way--a hard enough ride in its own right. But luckily Jack and Ward wanted to join me, and Jack wanted to make the ride harder. Instead of speedily returning from the top of Mt. Hamilton, we'd do down the longer front side, which would necessitate climbing Sierra Road for the 3rd time in 2 weeks.
Fell asleep watching a Doors DVD hooked into a new stereo system, so I woke up from the couch when Donna woke up for good to go on the Cinderella, a goofy women's only ride--but hey-discrimination is sometimes OK Great sleeping in a weird position, not knowing where you are, and then going back to get 2 hours of deep sleep. Early morning was sunny and almost windless and surprisingly fn cold. At 9:00 it was a shade less than 50 degrees, which was the HIGH predicted for the top of Mt. Hamilton. Made me rethink not taking knee warmers and glove liners, but didn't want to carry much all day. I took this to an extreme as accidentally left the PBJ sandwich, hammergel, and bag of Heed in the car--I think I paid for this at the end of the ride.
At 9:01 Jack, Ward and I pushed off, spinning just to get loose, when up ahead a few dozen cyclists were merging onto the street we were on. Shit--we were on the Cinderella. One cyclist shot by us. Oh oh-passed by someone on the Cinderella--at least she wasn't wearing a tiera, or with others riding 4 across the road. A block later a large group of women collected on the sidewalk cheering all the riders (including us) on. One more block and the Cinderella went straight and we made the wrong turn--a right turn that would get us onto Mines Road.
Mines Road is 30 miles away with a semi steep section at the beginning, but it is a mostly gradual uphill and the two hours to get there whizzed by as Ward and I bs'd about rock music and Jack (a music atheist) joined in when we'd talk about technology. As we were going uphill we stayed relatively warm. I also was practicing taking photos while riding with a new digital camera--great that it is so small and compact but too small to get a good grip on it and not fumble with the buttons, and keeping it in a case was useless.
The junction was crowded with the usual collection of motorcyclists (luckily not to many had been on the road where they almost lean over onto the cyclists) but was also jammed with folks from the Stockton Bike Club--they had some doubles folks who knew Jack. They were also going up Hammy but we left before them (when the restaurant started the fireplace and smoke covered the picnic area) and never saw them again. Boy--that Lara Bar was almost as good as the peanut butter and pumpkin butter sandwich in my car--right.
The San Antonio Valley, beyond the Junction to Mt. Hammy, is beautiful and desolate. It starts on a slight downhill, turns into short uphill rollers and then suddenly (Ward remembered, I forgot about) about 7 miles from Mt. Hammy it kicks into a serious climb to 6 miles to go. Then a fast downhill to a bridge and then a 5 mile climb up Hammy. As way of comparison Hammy is about as tall as Mt. Diablo, and the road up Diablo is more than twice as long (so is the road on the other side of Hammy) , so kick ass grades will follow. And from this side you can't see the summit until a mile away, so only the huge numbers painted on the road (for helicopter rescue) are your guide as to where you are.
I remember back to DMD 2006 where I flew through the first 120 miles to the Junction. My plan was to hammer to Mt. Hamilton, fly up, and then recover on the long descent. Well, my great plan went out the window as I was dead by the time I reached the Mt. Hamilton BASE, never mind the climb.
The climb was warm, my back stiffened up after a few hard grades, and Ward was hurting, so while Jack scurried up I pulled off to wait for Ward and take some photos. I then fondly remembered other times up this side--back in 2004 when I was trying to become a climber and soloing this with almost no water in the middle of Summer, or a few years later going up with Sacramento Doug on one of the early holiday's and getting caught in a hailstorm. OK--maybe fondly is the wrong word.
It was getting cool at the top (sunny, 47 degrees) but in the enclosed Courtyard it felt great. Luckily the vending machine had some power and breakfast bars.
Funny, it looks warmer than 48 degrees at the top of Hammy--in the background is the San Jose side, the way we are going down--some of thenarrow hairpin road is visable.
When we cycled back out to the front of the observatory, overlooking San Jose, you suddenly felt the chill and it was freezing on the downhill. On this side the "hairpin turn" salesman really had done a good job selling, many hairpins on a narrow road that looks good but has sections of falling rock and also hides the ruts/ holes in the road that isn't in terrible shape but could be improved. Lots of cyclists now coming up the easy side, along with the occasional car on this divided road but in reality is 1 1/2 lanes. My back wasn't loosening up on the downhill as patches of rough road and the cold were wearing me out. I'm hoping for just as sunny, just as windless, but 15 more degrees for the Devil Mountain Double.
Eventually we got to a bridge where the road levels off and then goes into a few serious up hill rollers. Thank god--can now warm up. I got a new lease on life and sped up--far enough away to fumble out the camera, get it into telephoto mode and get a good action shot of Jack and Ward with the observatory in the background.
I claim victory over Ward re our take a photo of Jack contest with this action photo with the Mt. Hamilton observatories in the background.
A few more miles of downhill rollers through the countryside which soon becomes opulent San Jose suburbia and the road suddenly is as smooth as a baby's butt. This section was great as we effortlessly sped trough while enjoying the overlook of San Jose.
We soon descended further and started following DMD course markings through 1950's suburbia. Wisely we stopped at a 7-11 for drink and food-unwisely I only filled up with ice--Gatoraid would have been a wiser choice to make up for the HEED my car was enjoying.
Sierra Road-same lousy results as last week. I don't have the 34t chainring on yet to replace the 36t and had to get off 3x to stretch for one minute each time, and total time up was a pedestrian 44:10. I actually don't HAVE to get off the bike--but my back starts to kill me and stretching alleviates the pain for about a mile-which is a nice tradeoff, as if my back is OK I enjoy the climb.
When feeling good I just put my head down, stood over the bars, and got into a hypnotic rocking rhythm where I'm just looking down past my front wheel. No big deal with motor vehicles--no cross streets on this road--though I did miss the shag mobile, as reported by Jack and Ward. I also missed Ward lying on the road to take my photo from the proper prospective. (L) The beginning of Sierra Road--is it too late to turn around (B) I'm cresting Sierra Road (all photos by me unless I'm in them, then photo by Ward)
Fun on the downhill rollers back which then goes into a very fast downhill to the Calavaras Wall. I enjoyed this as it was warm and I could ride in the drops. I was kinda hungry (not a good sign so opened and stuffed a Lara Bar in my mouth while riding--and then sped over an uphill section so Jack wouldn't pass me on the downhill. It was my last hurrah for the day. Reaching the top of Sierra Road, I look happy, don't I?
Good fast trip down Calavaras and towards Sunol--though last week I felt like I was the strongest and did lots of pulling, now I seemed to have lapses and would be well off the back and would have to scurry to catch back on. The cameras were now away, and Ward and I stopped acting like Jack's delinquent grandchildren, while Grandpa pulled most of the way back to Sunol. Unfortunately we didn't go into Sunol and enjoy the general store porch--we were still 20 miles away form the cars so we stopped at a small corner market. Again, I should have gotten a Gatoraid but thought we were closer and another delicious energy bar would do the trick. Jack was disappointed in the ride--he wanted to go further--if we had started at 8:00 we could have done Palomaras (darn.)
Going into Pleasanton Ward's GPS read a fathom or so under 10,000' feet of climbing and I said we HAD To get it over 10,000', so first Jack took us on the Happy Valley neighborhood loop (Jack and Ward were in Happy Valley, I was in This Sucks Valley), and then we detoured and went over the short but semi steep Bernal climb. Alright--as sign for downtown--but the downtown was Pleasanton and we were parked in Livermore. Another 10 miles into a crosswind which helped me fall off often but I had to hang on as I had no fn idea where we were going. Jack hammered on and Ward would fall off to set a target for me. I really needed a postal situation to revive my spirits but now we were all alone on the road.
I was so out of it at the end of the ride that I didn't even remember my time (Ward-O-Crazy)