Monday, February 21, 2011

Grant Park

Mount Hamilton is covered with snow.  I wanted to ride up and see it, but the road is closed.  To be fair, the reason I knew about the snow was because I had heard about the road closure, so it's not like it was a surprise.

Looking south from Mount Hamilton Road
So the plan was to ride up to Hamilton, on the assumption that either bikes were either explicitly or implicitly allowed. It was a beautiful day for a ride. Although I haven't ridden much lately, I felt good going uphill and was keeping a reasonable pace. Or so I thought, anyway -- I was getting pretty regularly passed, which means both that I was going slowly and that there were lots of people taking advantage of the first dry day in a week. A snow plow passed me on the way up.

A first glimpse of Hamilton with snow on top
As you get near the top of the first hill, you can start to see the observatory.  Actually, you can see the observatory from anywhere in the valley, but over the last few days it has been hidden by clouds and fog, so I hadn't seen it since it snowed.  I was expecting a little clinging frost, but obviously it's much more heavily covered than that.  At this point I was pretty excited about getting up there.

At Joseph D. Grant Park
After topping the first hill and riding down into Joseph D. Grant Park, I found the road not only closed but blocked by two actual live humans.  Where are these budget shortfalls I keep hearing about?  In retrospect I suppose I was depending on institutional apathy to allow me to ride on a clearly closed road.  I don't know whether to be disappointed by the fact that they were vigilant.

As close as I got to Mount Hamilton
I took one last picture and dutifully turned around.  On the way back, I decided to head over Quimby rather than back the way I had come.  Quimby had a "closed" sign and an "icy" sign, but I ignored them.  Thus I have bracketed my civil disobedience: I'm apparently willing to disobey signs, but not ignore people.

Silicon Valley, from Quimby Road
Quimby is much steeper than Mount Hamilton Road, and tops out 300 feet higher (about 2200 feet as opposed to 1900 feet for this part of Mount Hamilton Road). I once tried to ride up the other side of Quimby on my road bike, but it was too steep and I turned around.  As it turns out, it's just as steep going down, too.  After many days of rain and damp spots in shadows, I wasn't altogether keen on going fast down this hill, which meant that I rode the brakes horribly.

At the bottom I didn't want to ride through bland suburban roads, so I skirted the hill on Mount Pleasant Road, then worked through some neighborhoods back to my parking spot at the start of Mount Hamilton Road.  I should have had something like 5500 feet of climbing over 40 miles, but ended up with only 2600 feet over 19 miles.  Still, can't complain too much.

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