Thursday, February 16, 2012

Mount Hamilton via Quimby

Some rides are just snake-bit. I've tried to climb Quimby Road before, the long steep western side, but due to various hardware and software failures, never quite managed it. Saturday was the latest false start. It was raining pretty hard, and it was looking like a long, cold day. When I got a flat just a mile or so from home, then made a mess of myself fixing it, I decided to bag it. But Sunday was dry and clear, so I tried again. Fifth time's a charm.

View Hamilton via Quimby in a larger map

I set off on Sunday a little before 10 AM, and took Blossom Hill toward the eastern hills. After warming up the legs on the surprisingly steep hill at the end of Blossom Hill Road, I arrived at the foot of Quimby in good order.

The Santa Clara Valley, from Quimby Road
Quimby starts off steep, and then gets steeper. The bottom portion has something like a 10% grade. When that eases to merely 6%, you feel like you're on flat ground. But then the last few hundred meters run at something over 12%.

The Stanford cycling page says that Quimby Road is 5.1 miles at 7.7%, for a total of 2100 feet of climbing. I don't know where they start measuring. I started at the intersection of Murillo and Quimby, and recorded 3.2 miles at 10.1%, for a total of 1700 feet.

On Sunday it was nice and cool, but much of the climb (including the entire final portion) is in the sun, and must be murder on hot days.

Not that I'm checking climbs off a list or anything, but climbing up Quimby means that I've tackled all the really intimidating climbs in the eastern hills this winter -- Metcalf, Sierra, and now Quimby. Those are the ones I know about, anyway. I know that's not a big deal for most riders, but I'm pretty happy about it.

Deer and the Lick Observatory
The rest of the ride up Hamilton was uneventful. I felt pretty good the whole way up, possibly just because it wasn't as steep.

When you're climbing Mount Hamilton Road, you're working hard and it's nice and warm. As you get near the top you leave the shelter of the hills, and start feeling the wind. But you're still working hard, so it's fine. Finally, you get to the top, stop riding, and start freezing. It's hard to want to start the long, cold ride down. As you may imagine, I hadn't brought warm enough clothes. Plenty for the climb, not enough for the descent.

Cloud gathering over Lick Observatory
Looking southwest from Mount Hamilton
 After a long cold ride down to Halls Valley, I thought about how to return home. I could take Quimby, but I thought it would be nice to get a little variety, so I stayed on Mount Hamilton Road. That's what I told myself, anyway. The truth was that I was pretty zonked, largely because I was feeling so cold, and couldn't face the steep Quimby climb.

When I got to Alum Rock Road I didn't really have a plan, so I just stayed on the road and pedaled through San Jose, enjoying a little city riding. I zigged around toward Lincoln, which led to the Almaden Expressway and home.

On Monday it rained here in the valley, but snowed on Mount Hamilton. I just missed it. There hasn't been much moisture this year, but maybe I'll get another chance this season to see some snow up there.

In all it was just short of 65 miles, with about 5900 feet of climbing. I'm pretty happy that I broke the curse of Quimby, although I'm not sure I'll rush to climb it again.
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