Friday, June 29, 2012

Hamilton, fully loaded

Two days ago I rode up Mount Hamilton, the hard way.

View Hamilton via Quimby in a larger map

I'm taking a bicycle tour soon, and so lately I've been riding around with a rack on my bike. Most of the time, I also have my bag attached, to help get used to that. But while there has always been stuff in the bag, it has never been fully loaded. Until Wednesday, that is, when I packed everything on my list into the bag and set off.

To get a good feel for how the extra weight will affect me, I decided to ride up Mount Hamilton. And because I was especially worried about steep climbs, I took Quimby to get there.

My bag is very heavy. I guess the heaviest thing I have is a laptop, even though it's a tiny little netbook. But I also have a camera and, apparently, about 20 pounds of other stuff. I'm pretty sure the bag is as heavy as the rest of the bike.

I started feeling the extra weight as soon as I started up Silver Creek Valley Road. When I stood up on that surprisingly steep section of road, the bike was top heavy and clumsy. I'd have to do something about that.

The top section of Quimby Road
Quimby is very steep. From where I started at Murillo Avenue, it climbs 1600 feet in 3.1 miles, with an average grade of 10%. The extra weight didn't help, but I made it to the top alive, so I suppose it wasn't so bad. The most difficult kilometer of the ride was the top of Quimby, which averages 13.6%.

When I got down to Grant Park, I shifted the heaviest stuff from my bag into its built-in panniers, to lower the center of gravity. That, plus a little bit of experience with the heavy bag, made bike much more manageable. When I rode up Mount Hamilton last week, I felt really strong. This time, with the added weight, not so much. But having said that, the extra weight is out of sight and, even when climbing, mostly out of mind.

On the way back I also took Quimby, which is I think the first time I've done that in both directions. So I must not have been totally wiped out.

Elevation profile
This ride was just under 62 miles, with 6500 feet of climbing. It was awfully slow, but workable. That's all I need.

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