Saturday, November 28, 2015


Yesterday I took advantage of the long weekend to sneak out for a non-commute ride up Mount Umunhum.

Normally I try to fit in a long ride on these long weekends, but the day after Thanksgiving I woke up pretty late and was lazy, so I only had a few hours. Meanwhile, there's been a lot of work on the mountain since the last time I saw it, so I wanted to see what was up.

As far as I can tell, the last time I did this ride was April 2014. Since then they've constructed a little parking lot at the gate on Mount Umunhum Road, the highest point cars are currently allowed.

Plenty of parking
Basic facilities
There's a nice little parking lot and bathrooms, but no water that I could see.

No change in the road surface
If I understand it correctly there are plans to re-pave the road when they open access to the top, so it's no surprise that it hasn't been worked on yet. It's not a problem when climbing, but when descending the 10%+ grades it can be tricky.

I'm sure the quality of the road hasn't changed much, but this time I found myself unable to dodge several large potholes. It's nerve racking, but then again a smooth road surface might encourage reckless descending.

Even more emphatic signs
The next change one notices is that MROSD has put up new signage blocking the road that's even larger, 100% redder, and generally more emphatic. Before too long we'll be able to ride (and even drive) to the top; why they still can't allow bike and pedestrian traffic even one foot further than this is a mystery to me.

New facilities at Quicksilver
After a long cold descent I rolled through New Almaden, and saw new construction at the Hacienda entrance of Quicksilver park. There too they've erected a little bathroom and they appear to be in the process of building a bell tower for some reason.

What I learned from this is that, in building a bell tower, one apparently installs the bell before even finishing the exterior. Who knew?

I had a few extra minutes of sunshine and no interest in riding along Almaden Expressway, so I took Harry Road past the entrace to the IBM Almaden facility, where it winds through a hilly little residential area on the way back to Camden.

Elevation Profile
All in all a really enjoyable ride -- perfect weather, I felt good on the steep climbs, and it fit neatly into the afternoon. It was just under 25 miles, with a little over 3000 feet of climbing. The most difficult kilometer was the lower part of the climb up Hicks, which averages well over 14%.

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