Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Mount Hamilton

On Sunday I took advantage of the first really warm day of the spring to ride up to the Lick Observatory on Mount Hamilton.

View Mount Hamilton in a larger map

I got started late, partly because I had some work to do in the morning and partly because I wanted to skip the morning chill. When I started at shortly after 10, I left without my jacket for the first time in many months.

Looking over the valley from Quimby
As has been my habit lately, I took Quimby on the way up. On that steep climb I was reminded that my apparently improved form in the past few months has been partly attributable to the weather. I was wiping sweat from my eyes for the first time in a while, and feeling especially drained. Nonetheless, I got to the top and dropped into Halls Valley.

Lick Observatory, from a few
hundred feet below
In the park's parking lot I refilled my water (haven't had to do that lately, either) and ate a sandwich. Then I headed up the much less steep road to the peak.

I hung around the peak for a while. A group of riders preparing to head down pulled out windbreakers, and I regretted my decision to leave the jacket at home. It wasn't cold, but I was sweating, and the wind can be bitter. I loitered in the wind long enough to get dry, which not coincidentally also chilled me to the bone. Nonetheless the trip down wasn't as cold as I had feared.

A little snow remains on Mount Hamilton
For most of the way down I was involved in a traffic jam headed by an especially timid Nissan Versa. The Versa was going much slower than even I (a slow descender) wanted to go, and when the windbreaker crowd and another car joined the train, it was a little much for me. I suppose I could have passed the Versa, but it's dicey and the driver seemed easily spooked. So instead, I stopped for a bit and let them all go. Still, I caught them all, in the same configuration, before we all arrived at Smith Creek.

If I had been feeling stronger I would have taken Quimby back home, but I wasn't quite there. Instead I took the easier but longer route down Mount Hamilton Road, then into San Jose and the Guadalupe River Trail.

Cows in Grant Park
On the streets I had been running over lots of broken glass, and the trail was much worse. I got a flat somewhere near the 280 underpass, and I'm only surprised I didn't have several more along the way.

Elevation profile
This ride was 65 miles, with a little over 6000 feet of climbing. Hmm... is that possible? The Garmin said 6480, and my program that discounts minor climbs is what gave me 6000, but that's a lot of bits and pieces. The most difficult kilometer was, no surpise at all, near the top of Quimby Road. I measured the whole of Quimby Road at 3.14 miles, with an average grade of 10.1%. That most difficult kilometer averaged 13.1%.

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