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  1. #1
    Senior Member td.tony's Avatar
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    mt. hammie/the junction/mines road. Have you done it??

    hello everyone, im fairly new to this forum. Just curious how many of you have done this route?? can you guys give some feedback on how the ride went and give any recommendations on what to do or bring on the ride? i just recently picked up biking and the longest i've ridden is only 35 miles, but this past week i've ridden 30 miles everyday and i think in another month or two i might be strong enough to attempt a 100mile ride.
    i just mapped this route on googlemaps, starting from the base of mt. hamilton, ascending to the top, then down the back side, then all the way to the junction, then all the way up north on mines road to livermore. i figure from there i could get picked up or something.
    I drove on the same route when i used to drive my miata a lot, and even driving it was so mentally tiring that i had to take a long break at the junction, then another at the top of mt. hamilton, then another in san jose.... i never even imagined BIKING the same route, but it seems very possible for me in the near future. So tell me everything about the ride so i can be better prepared, guys! haha.
    Also, some details of your first time riding this route would be great.

    EDIT: What is it like going over the cattle guards on a bike????? is it necesary to dismount?, because as i recall there are a few on the downhill section which seems a bit scary to me. i just remember going over cattle guards the first time in my car at +40mph(i had no idea what cattle guards were) and thinking my car was going to fall apart.

    woops. meant to post this in the Nor Cal section..
    Last edited by td.tony; 01-25-09 at 12:04 AM.

  2. #2
    Come on, it'll be fun BenRidin's Avatar
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    W/out knowing your riding fitness level, I'll take a stab.

    The climb up Hamilton from the west isn't that tough. Gentle grade, etc. Doing a search on this board will give you a lot of ride reports.

    From the summit, to the junction, is an easy ride. It's mostly downhill, yet there are several inclines. Nothing too hard.

    Yes, there are some cattle guards. Just ride in a straight line over them. I know some riders that "bunny hop" them. I just ride over them myself. If you're uncomfortable riding over them at a high rate of speed, then slow down a bit.

    Refill your bottle (and tummy) at the Junction Cafe. As you know, since you've done this drive in your Miata, there are a few hills coming up. Again, nothing too tough to handle. The rest of the ride is downhill.

    Depending on the time of year or even the time of day, you may experience and westerly wind blowing into the canyon. This may impede your downhill speed, making you work a bit more.

    It's a good ride. Have fun,

    BR
    Looking for a chateau. Twenty-one rooms but one will do. I don't want to buy it. I just want to rent it for an hour or two.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Dchiefransom's Avatar
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    You might want to try a more flat century before you get stuck out in the middle of nowhere bonked. You'll need at least two water bottles. Refill at the observatory. Refill at The Junction(buy something or tip them). Carry at least one spare tube and a patch kit. You'll need a pump, one guy on that ride had 7 flats. There's no cell phone reception for some of the area on the back side. I don't know where we lost it coming down the back side, but we didn't get it back until we got to where Mines Rd meets the road to Lake Del Valle.
    Silver Eagle Pilot

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    That is the Mt Hamilton Road race. See profile

    http://www.teamsanjose.org/memorialwknd/2008/mtham/

    This year run on May 24.

  5. #5
    Team Embolism maillotpois's Avatar
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    I wouldn't do this as my first self-supported century for sure. In fact, I wouldn't do this alone, period. (That may be a woman thing, but honestly, I wouldn't recommend anyone, male or female, do the ride alone.)

    It is a great ride, and I have done it from both directions several times, but it is VERY remote. There is no water between the summit and the Junction. Not as much of an issue when the weather is cool, but still.

    It is a beautiful ride. Best time of year is April/May when the wildflowers are in bloom. Check out the Mt Hamilton Challenge for a moderately supported way to do the ride: http://www.hillsidegraphics.com/hamilton-challenge/

    And do NOT walk across cattle guards - that's asking for trouble. Like BenRiding said, just go straight over them. Lift your butt off the seat a little.

  6. #6
    Senior Member ericm979's Avatar
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    There's one tricky cattle guard on the backside of Mt Hamilton. As long as you go straight over them they are ok, but this one is around a turn just after the steepest part of the descent so it is easy to come up to it carrying to much speed to straighten up. The descent itself is not for the inexperienced. Every year in the road race there are a number of crashes on it.

    I suggest that you work up to a flat century before you try the Mt Hamilton to Livermore ride. It's a hard ride.

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    I did the Mines Rd - Hamilton summit route from Pleasanton and back today. Here's an Edge 305 ride profile that will give you an idea of the climbs/decent on the "back" side. Beware of the weather. Today there was freezing fog a the top. When the wind blew (and it was blowing) ice would blow off the trees and onto the road and us. And cattle guards... go fast ;-)

    Last edited by gw_12; 01-25-09 at 09:50 PM.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Dchiefransom's Avatar
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    If you're seriously wanting to try a 100 miler, try Bike Around The Buttes. Supported ride and no climbing.
    Silver Eagle Pilot

  9. #9
    Senior Member td.tony's Avatar
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    thanks for all the info. after some more thought i dont really think i'll be ready for this route for a long time. Not only the physical challenge, but the technical challenge of the downhill, i get pretty scared on steep descents. i havent done any steep climbing at all, i just ride calaveras road every week and im used to the slight descent on it. Im hoping to try redwood road and pinehurst this week and doing that every week until i get used to the descent.

  10. #10
    moth -----> flame Beaker's Avatar
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    Don't be too hard on yourself - it sounds like you were proposing several new challenges all rolled into one - longest distance, some serious elevation and also putting yourself out in the middle of nowhere. Just get yourself used to doing distance, and getting some longer climbs in and you'll be more than ready.

    BTW Pinehurst/Redwood is a gorgeous ride, heading out on one of the Norcal group rides would probably also be great training - there are lots of 50-60mile options almost every week.

  11. #11
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    I did this from Livermore - Mt. Hamilton - Sierra Rd - Calaveras - back to Livermore (about 110 miles) a few times, only once the way you're talking about. While it's not an easy ride, I did it the first time after I'd only picked up cycling 4 months before (after a 10+ year layoff). I was training with TnT for the Death Ride (I don't do anything the easy way), so I did have a structured training program I was following, which helped enormously.

    As plenty of folks on this board will tell you, I'm not the fastest climber around! As long as you keep riding and challenging yourself, this will be within reach sooner than you might think. Definitely do some other rides in more populated areas - I'd think about climbing Mt. Hamilton on it's own first, maybe Mt. Diablo or Mt. Tam too. Lots of great routes in the East Bay and on the peninsula with tough climbs too.

    There are some logistical things to keep in mind on the route you proposed. In addition to the lack of population/rest stops issue, you have to worry about just a sheer lack of cell phone coverage on San Antonio Valley/Mines Road. There is some, but there are also long stretches with no coverage at all. If you have a physical or mechanical problem out there, you are on your own! If you get to the junction cafe and it's closed, there's a firehouse close by. The firefighters have been very friendly to me, and have let me refill my water bottles there.

    keep riding, and you'll be able to do this ride sooner than you might think!

    JB
    Last edited by jonathanb715; 01-26-09 at 06:59 PM.
    "Poor Reverend Hamilton! He worked so hard, got a mountain named after him and now all anyone wants to do is complain about his backside!" Overheard while climbing Mt. Hamilton

    Check out my cycling blog.

  12. #12
    Crawlin' up, flyin' down bikingshearer's Avatar
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    A translation from a mere mortal, meaning someopne who is nowhere near as fit or well-trained as BenRidin.

    Quote Originally Posted by BenRidin View Post
    W/out knowing your riding fitness level, I'll take a stab.

    The climb up Hamilton from the west isn't that tough. Gentle grade, etc. Doing a search on this board will give you a lot of ride reports.

    From the summit, to the junction, is an easy ride. It's mostly downhill, yet there are several inclines. Nothing too hard.
    Mount Hamilton is a major climb. Yeah, there are plenty of steeper grades, but Ham is 20 miles long, and 20 miles of 6-8% grade is wearing.

    As for summit to junction, yeah, it's a net elevation decrease, and the descent from Ham is long and fast. but once you're done with it, you have several ups and downs to do. Take a look at a map. Note that when the road is going east, the streams are all going more or less north. Each stream you cross is its own separate little valley, whioch means that every stream translates into a ridge to climb up and over.

    Quote Originally Posted by BenRidin View Post
    Yes, there are some cattle guards. Just ride in a straight line over them. I know some riders that "bunny hop" them. I just ride over them myself. If you're uncomfortable riding over them at a high rate of speed, then slow down a bit.
    The secret to getting over cattle guards is the same as the trick to getting over railroad tracks: make everything as close to 90 degrees as possible. You want you bike and body to be as perpindicular to the ground as possible and yor bike as perpindicular to the cattle guard as possible.

    Whoever said not to walk over cattleguards is absolutely correct. You are much better off riding over them.

    Quote Originally Posted by BenRidin View Post
    Refill your bottle (and tummy) at the Junction Cafe. As you know, since you've done this drive in your Miata, there are a few hills coming up. Again, nothing too tough to handle. The rest of the ride is downhill.
    Definitely chow down at the Junction. Following the Junction will be two hills. They would be no big deal if they came at the beginning of the ride, or if they were they only climbing you had to do. But coming as they do after Ham and the up-and-down between Ham and the Junction, they are harder than they look on a profile.

    Quote Originally Posted by BenRidin View Post
    Depending on the time of year or even the time of day, you may experience and westerly wind blowing into the canyon. This may impede your downhill speed, making you work a bit more.
    All true, although you will be heading downhill - gently or fairly significantly - by the time wind becomes an issue. Even on the flat part of Mines Road (meaning the last four mile or so) you are going gently downhill, so don't despair.

    Quote Originally Posted by BenRidin View Post
    It's a good ride. Have fun,

    The first time you do it, it will be an epic ride. If you are prepared, it will rank as one of the greatest rides you do. If you aren't prepared, it will suck sweaty donkey balls. Twice.

    BR
    "I'm in shape -- round is a shape." Andy Rooney

  13. #13
    Senior Member silentben's Avatar
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    I've had this ride floating around in the back of my head for a long time now so it's good to see people's input. I would probably do a full loop of it. Any thoughts on a good starting/stopping point and whether to go clockwise vs. CCW? Is climbing the back side of Hamilton pretty brutal? Would it be ludicrous to do that near the end of the ride? Keep in mind I did the Tour of the Unknown Coast last year which has 3000 feet of climbing in the last 20 miles and I actually liked that

    I would definitely be interested in doing something like the Hamilton Challenge but it looks like they haven't announced any info on it for 2009. If that doesn't work out then this also might be a good route for a BF unsupported century.

  14. #14
    Carbon compliance tester
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    I don't remember even giving a second thought to the cattle guards on the way down. On the way up I'm careful since i'm going realllllly slow

  15. #15
    Senior Member ericm979's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by silentben View Post
    I've had this ride floating around in the back of my head for a long time now so it's good to see people's input. I would probably do a full loop of it. Any thoughts on a good starting/stopping point and whether to go clockwise vs. CCW? Is climbing the back side of Hamilton pretty brutal? Would it be ludicrous to do that near the end of the ride? Keep in mind I did the Tour of the Unknown Coast last year which has 3000 feet of climbing in the last 20 miles and I actually liked that

    CCW is the easier direction. The back side of Mt Hamilton is tough, and if it's warm out it'll be hot there. I have measured temps as high as 107 there (when it was only 94 at the top).

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by silentben View Post
    I've had this ride floating around in the back of my head for a long time now so it's good to see people's input. I would probably do a full loop of it. Any thoughts on a good starting/stopping point and whether to go clockwise vs. CCW? Is climbing the back side of Hamilton pretty brutal? Would it be ludicrous to do that near the end of the ride? Keep in mind I did the Tour of the Unknown Coast last year which has 3000 feet of climbing in the last 20 miles and I actually liked that

    I would definitely be interested in doing something like the Hamilton Challenge but it looks like they haven't announced any info on it for 2009. If that doesn't work out then this also might be a good route for a BF unsupported century.
    If you are going clockwise, how hard it is depends somewhat on how you get from San Jose to Sunol - you can thow in a major climb there (Sierra Road or Calaveras), or you can work your way up to Niles Canyon, which is much easier. The backside of Hamilton is tough - 5.5 miles at around an 8% average grade, with quite a bit that is steeper. It's kind of like taking the endless climb from the TUC, but making it all as steep as that initial mile and a half. Personally, I wouldn't want to face that at the end of a long ride.

    When we did it, we mostly followed the 2nd half of the Devil Mountain Double route, starting in Livermore near where Mines Road starts. We didn't diverge from the DMD route until we got to Sunol - instead of heading down Niles Canyon to Palomares at that point, we went up Foothill, then cut across Pleasanton to get back to our starting point. Not much climbing after Calaveras when you go that way, but you still have 30 miles or so to go if you started in Livermore. We ended up with a 110 mile ride and around 11,000 feet of climbing. I'd put it in the same ballpark as the Tour of the Unknown Coast for difficulty - if you could handle that without too much trouble, you can do this.

    JB

    edit - the ideal starting point depends on how warm the day is. We had hot days, so wanted to get up Mt. Hamilton by noon. This dictates starting as close to Mines Road as possible (it's about 45 miles from the head of Mines Rd to the summit of Mt. Hamilton, with lots of rolling and a couple of longer climbs on the way). I've seen cars with bike racks parked off the shoulder shortly after Mines Road diverges from Del Valle Road - theres a very wide place there where it's easy to get your car competely off the road. Another good place might be that tandem shop in Pleasanton where BBM started one of our Livermore rides. Lots of parking in that strip mall, rest rooms in the bike shop and the supermarket, and the folks running the shop seemed very friendly.
    Last edited by jonathanb715; 01-26-09 at 07:21 PM.
    "Poor Reverend Hamilton! He worked so hard, got a mountain named after him and now all anyone wants to do is complain about his backside!" Overheard while climbing Mt. Hamilton

    Check out my cycling blog.

  17. #17
    Team Embolism maillotpois's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jonathanb715 View Post
    When we did it, we mostly followed the 2nd half of the Devil Mountain Double route, starting in Livermore near where Mines Road starts. We didn't diverge from the DMD route until we got to Sunol - instead of heading down Niles Canyon to Palomares at that point, we went up Foothill, then cut across Pleasanton to get back to our starting point.

    And that's pretty much what we'll be doing again this year....

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