...'cause we were definitely the last ones to the bottom!
My brother (new BF member, darpave) and I had talked about doing Mt. Hamilton for several months, but needed to get it done before my family's return to Austin. The target date had been Sunday but after we awoke Saturday morning, we determined that we needed to seize the moment. The weather looked great, we had no other commitments and I knew there was a big BF group heading up and there was a possibility that I'd run into a few of them. We didn't decide to do the ride until 9AM, so I knew we wouldn't make the 10AM PP start but thought that maybe we'd start up around 11 and see a couple folks still lounging at the top (knowing our climbing pace, it was unlikely we'd actually catch riders starting an hour ahead of us!).
We ate a good breakfast, put the bikes on the back of the car and headed for the mountain. We decided to park right at the start of Mt. Hamilton Road, in the dirt lot next to the golf course. As soon as we pulled in, SOMEBODY discovered they had left their shoes in Los Altos! We decided to forge ahead, knowing this might be our last chance, so...after much swearing, we drove back to LA, picked up the shoes, then headed back for Hwy 130.
We began our ride about 1:00 at a pretty leisurly pace, which was pretty much the pace for the rest of the climb to the summit. With 18 unknown miles ahead, we knew that reaching the summit was the goal, not setting any climbing records (which we had no ability to set anyway).
As with any significant ride, whether distance or climbing, I mentally split the ride into segments. For Mt. Hamilton, it's thirds each way. Each of the two descents on the way up represent a third of the climb done. However...just for fun, after 2 miles I turned to my brother and said "We're 1/9th of the way to the top!".
Knowing it was likely that some of the riders coming down were with the 10:00 PP ride, I tried to make mental notes of the riders coming down. Sure enough, after looking at spingineer's ride report, there were a handful of them that I remember and at least one that remembers me, decked out in my BF kit.
A few things stick out in my mind:
- I didn't like the downhills after each long climb section. It felt like I was "giving back" hard earned elevation, although it did make for a nice break for my legs.
- I remember seeing AlainP and his son on their return. I believe they had finished the initial descent from the summit and were climbing the first return climb, coming from the park.
- On the eastern side of the hills it could get downright chilly. The number of micro-climates was amazing!
- I remember the skunk, although didn't get nearly as close as Bikeshearer.
- kb5ql, sitting on the side of the road after his accident. He said he was okay but now we know better. Not sure we could have helped but hope he feels better soon!
- The final 1/3 of the climb going up...that observatory just never seemed to get closer!
We knew when we reached the summit we needed to have a pretty quick turnaround or else we'd lose our light. we put on our extra clothing, snapped a few pictures, refilled our bottles and headed back down. In Austin, a long descent is usually a minute or two...and it's usually fairly straight. Coming down from the summit of Mt. Hamilton was a real treat! My descending has gotten better in the last few months riding here, descending roads like OLH, Page Mill and Kings Mountain, but this was a horse of a different color!
Both my brother and I admitted afterwards that we were both dreading the climbs on the return. It turned out we probably climbed them faster than any climbs on the way up.
The lower we got, the darker and colder it got. By the time we hit the final "smooth" road, all cars had their lights on and we both felt like things were gettin' a little dicey. Then the stop sign loomed ahead and the ride was finished!
A phenomenal day to say the least and we're happy we did it despite our false start. It was nice to at least see some of the BA BFers, even though we didn't get to shake hands and say hello. Waves and head nods will have to do for now.
Early in the climb, a smile still on darpave's face
Still early, still grinnin'
About 2:30...shadows are already pretty long
BFers descending from the 10:00 am ride. I believe that's MarkoPolo in the lead, USPSPro in the rear and ??? in the middle.
Still a long way to go
Final shot of our triumph. The observatory is in the middle...just a long way away