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Old 11-23-13, 09:07 PM   #1
rdtompki
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Ranking of the three mid/north bay area mountain climbs?

Now that I'm retired I'd like to be able to cross Mt. Diablo, Mt. Tam and Mt. Hamilton off my bucket list. Since I'm just increasing mileage and climbing I'd like to contemplate them in order of difficulty recognizing the subjectivity involved. I've done three of the longer climbs further south: Fremont Peak (tandem only), Lone Tree and Henry Coe. I suspect all of these are a notch below the three official mountains, but they are not easy. I've run up both Mt. Hamilton and Mt Umunhum decades ago. I suspect Umunhum from Hicks wouldn't be considered much of a climb on a bicycle: less than 5 miles and a steady grade.
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Old 11-23-13, 10:22 PM   #2
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I haven't done Mt. Tam, so I can only give you my opinion of Diablo vs Hamilton (from SJ).

I find Diablo much easier than Hamilton. Diablo has a few sections that are steeper, but its a much shorter ride, 22 mi round-trip from Athenian School.
Mt. Hamilton I found was LONG slog. There's a significant descent part way into the ride, so you actually do about an extra 1000 ft of climbing, and its like 45 mi round trip from SJ.

The initial start up Diablo is steep, as in the section just past Oak Knoll, and the final head-wall is an exercise in pure survival. Mt. Hamilton doesn't have anything as steep, but its a much longer ride.
Round-trip up Diablo for me is ~2 hrs (1:35 to summit, yes, I'm slow), Hamilton round-trip was ~4 hrs, so its a lot of time in the saddle.
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Old 11-24-13, 12:06 AM   #3
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I have climbed each of these when I visited the States last September. They are all different, so would depend on your personal strengths and weaknesses as to the order of difficulty...

Mt Diablo via North Gate suited me most as it was very similar in length and gradient to the climb I did repeats on in preparation for my trip. Just make sure you save something for the last short stretch to the summit.

Mt Tam has a few ways to the summit. I rode it from Fairfax via Alpine Dam and found this one harder to hold constant tempo than the others due to the fact it dipped and rose with some steeper pinches thrown into the mix. But I'd ridden Mt Diablo via North Gate that morning possibly making it feel harder than it was.

http://climbinglama.blogspot.com.au/...iablo-and.html

Mt Hamilton is longer than the others. With the two short descents it does break up the ascent giving some respite. Really enjoyable climb with no steep sections.

http://climbinglama.blogspot.com.au/...ad-and-mt.html
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Old 11-24-13, 10:12 AM   #4
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I've ridden each of these a few times. Hamilton from the Livermore/Antelope Valley side is the hardest. Diablo from the south side is the easiest. The others (Tamalpais from Fairfax-Bolinas Rd, Diablo from Northgate, Tamalpais from Mill Valley, Hamilton from San Jose) are pretty close, with maybe possibly Tamalpais from Fairfax just a tad harder.

Every one of these rides from each direction is worth it, and none of them is truly difficult.
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Old 11-24-13, 10:24 AM   #5
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For the best riding experience, I suggest skipping Ham and Tam and doing Diablo three times.
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Old 11-24-13, 10:48 AM   #6
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For the best riding experience, I suggest skipping Ham and Tam and doing Diablo three times.
As one who hasn't ridden Tam or Hamilton, but rides up the north and south sides of Diablo very regularly, I agree
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Old 11-24-13, 03:21 PM   #7
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You have all these amazing climbs around SF and only ride Diablo? Could understand for training sticking to the most convenient climb, but when you live in a city surrounded my amazing climbs I am surprised you haven't gone exploring...
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Old 11-24-13, 04:15 PM   #8
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You have all these amazing climbs around SF and only ride Diablo? Could understand for training sticking to the most convenient climb, but when you live in a city surrounded my amazing climbs I am surprised you haven't gone exploring...
I have explored. Diablo is like Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne combined. Hamilton and Tamalpais together don't add up to Perth. Pick your destination. (Sorry if you're from WA... really sorry)
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Old 11-24-13, 04:42 PM   #9
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I guess I don't need to wonder about where DiabloScott's heart will be buried or ashes spread someday in the distant future...
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Old 11-24-13, 05:17 PM   #10
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You have all these amazing climbs around SF and only ride Diablo? Could understand for training sticking to the most convenient climb, but when you live in a city surrounded my amazing climbs I am surprised you haven't gone exploring...
Because I like riding from my front door rather than driving. If I have to drive it defeats a bit of the purpose for me. Its 8 miles to the northgate of Diablo...
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Old 11-24-13, 10:09 PM   #11
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Fair enough Garciawork. I have my regular climbs too, but as you might tell via my blog - I love riding new climbs too. You live in a city blessed with an abundance on great climbs so surprised so many haven't gone further afield at least once.

DiabloScott - it's okay, I'm in Melbourne...
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Old 11-24-13, 10:24 PM   #12
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My subjecive list in order:

Diablo from Northgate
Diablo from Southgate
Hamilton from the back side
Mt. Tam via Alpine Dam
Hamilton from San Jose. (just long and bores me. 22 miles of unrelenting 6% is dull to me)
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Old 11-24-13, 11:03 PM   #13
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My subjecive list in order:

Diablo from Northgate
Diablo from Southgate
Hamilton from the back side
Mt. Tam via Alpine Dam
Hamilton from San Jose. (just long and bores me. 22 miles of unrelenting 6% is dull to me)
A bit more on topic, so I'll reply to this one.


In terms of difficulty I'd go:

1)Hamilton backside (steep!)
2)Diablo NG (steepish sections, pretty long)
3)Hamilton from SJ (VERY long)
4)Diablo SG (NG's little brother)
5)Mt. Tam from Stinson (steep sections, bad road sections)
6)Mt. Tam from Mill Valley (cars!)

In order of enjoyment, I'd go:

1)Diablo NG (It's Diablo!)
2)Diablo SG (see above)
3)Hamilton from SJ (guess I like steady and boring )
4)Tam from Mill Valley (cars!!)
5)Tam from Stinson (cars)
6)Hamilton backside (it's just brutally steep, just want it to be over!)

And if we are all taking liberties here, I'd probably put Tunitas Creek (which is about a 2,000', 9 mile climb) above all of these in terms of enjoyment. Nary a car to be seen and the whole ride in giant redwood forest. Plus the Bike Hut at the bottom!

Last edited by cthenn; 11-24-13 at 11:09 PM.
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Old 11-24-13, 11:57 PM   #14
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I guess I don't need to wonder about where DiabloScott's heart will be buried or ashes spread someday in the distant future...
Don't forget the memorial picnic bench like this one...



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Old 11-25-13, 10:58 AM   #15
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guys, thanks very much. I'll add additional detail to my bucket list based on this thread. I can ride any day of the week management permitting. I suspect Tam and Diablo are best done during the week.
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Old 11-25-13, 11:35 AM   #16
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Might I suggest another route option for climbing Tamalpais?

Start in Stinson Beach. Ride north on Highway 1 along the Bolinas Lagoon for about 5 flat miles.
Turn right on Fairfax Bolinas Road and begin climbing from the grasslands up into the Redwoods on a narrow winding road with little traffic and some excellent views. The steepest sections are in the firs two miles.
After about 5 miles turn right on Ridgecrest Blvd. for 7 more miles of climbing to the top with some short descents thrown in for good measure. The views of the Pacific Ocean and the coastline below you are stunning. You've probably seen Ridgecrest Blvd. before in a car commercial.
You can then descend back to Stinson via the shorter Pan Toll Road and Panoramic Highway.

Yes, week days are best, but as long as you get an early start (before 9AM) on the Highway 1 portion the weekend traffic isn't bad on this route.

Have fun!
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Old 11-25-13, 02:26 PM   #17
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I suspect Tam and Diablo are best done during the week.
One of the fun things about riding Diablo on a Saturday morning is all the other cyclists you'll see. Racers, recumbents, tandems, (recumbent tandems!), kiddie trailers, wool jersey types, middle-aged desk jockeys, and really fit women in tight shorts .



So yeah, there'll be more cars on the weekend than some Tuesday afternoon, but the bikes will outnumber them and the drivers mostly aren't in a hurry.
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Old 11-29-13, 05:18 PM   #18
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Thanks for the info. My wife and I will be in Concord for a couple of days between Christmas & New Years, and Mt. Diablo is on the list. I didn't realize there were two routes up, and that SG was a bit easier, good to know as I will be doing the climb on my fixie (the same bike I used for PBP 2011, LEL 2013, and the Cali Triple Crown in 2012).

I did Mt. Tam & Mt. Ham back in 2010 (yeah, on the fixie). I wanted to ride the legendary Fairfax-Bolinas Rd,, and I took the opportunity to take Ridgecrest (I got a nice pic of the winding section!) to Pan Toll up to Mt. Tam. I also rode up the SJ side of Mt. Hamilton with a local club, and then went on my own down the east side. I was going to return back up the same way, but I figured it would be too difficult to do on a fixie, so I continued on to Livermore, then back to SJ by way of Calaveras Rd (in the dark, but I had a light). Took all day, but I figured it was easier than going back up the east side of Mt. Ham! I used to live in Oakland up till about 1972, and Mt. Ham was my first century, so it brought back some good memories. (Yes, I did a lot of riding in the East Bay with the Berkeley Wheelmen in the early 70's, but I don't know why I never went up Mt. Diablo.)

Mt. Diablo will complete my Bay Area triple, unless there are some more mountains I HAVE to ride up. I am anticipating having to walk up the wall at the end of Mt. Diablo, but otherwise, it sounds like it should be a not-too-difficult and quite enjoyable climb.

Thanks!

Luis
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Old 11-30-13, 10:54 AM   #19
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That is great that you will get a chance to climb Diablo Scott's mountain.
If you want some Bike Forums company on this ride, I volunteer to organize something.
I sent you a PM with my contact info.

Last edited by Lanceoldstrong; 11-30-13 at 10:59 AM.
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Old 11-30-13, 01:59 PM   #20
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That is great that you will get a chance to climb Diablo Scott's mountain.
If you want some Bike Forums company on this ride, I volunteer to organize something.
I sent you a PM with my contact info.
Maybe I can make it over there for that too.
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Old 12-01-13, 08:12 PM   #21
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I think Mt. Hamilton from the west as the easiest. I've done Diablo many times from the north or south several times and, although they are the steepest, I found Mt. Tam from Fairfax the hardest. I think that it's because it's the longest and the total ascent is the greatest. There's like 1200 feet of descent on the way up to the top, which of course turns into ascending on the way back. I also think it's prettier than Diablo.
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Old 12-03-13, 01:32 PM   #22
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That is great that you will get a chance to climb Diablo Scott's mountain. If you want some Bike Forums company on this ride, I volunteer to organize something.
lhbernhardt and I have been in contact about, he and his wife, coming to Concord and wanting to ride Mt Diablo.

Save this Date and Time: Sunday 12/29 at 9AM

I will post details in a ride thread tonight.

Let's get the band back together for a Bike Forums Ride!
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Old 12-03-13, 02:04 PM   #23
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I didn't realize there were two routes up, and that SG was a bit easier, good to know as I will be doing the climb on my fixie (the same bike I used for PBP 2011, LEL 2013, and the Cali Triple Crown in 2012).

Luis

South Gate is definitely easier than North Gate, but Summit Road is a little harder than either one. And anyone who can do the Triple Crown on a FG (holy cow!) won't have any problem.
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Old 12-21-13, 07:49 PM   #24
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And if we are all taking liberties here, I'd probably put Tunitas Creek (which is about a 2,000', 9 mile climb) above all of these in terms of enjoyment. Nary a car to be seen and the whole ride in giant redwood forest. Plus the Bike Hut at the bottom!
Amen!
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Old 12-22-13, 03:31 PM   #25
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For most riders in decent shape and with enough gears, most gradients < 8-9% do not seem 'hard' unless you really push yourself, whether it's shifting back into a bigger gear, targeting a higher heart rate/power, etc.

Mt. Tam, Hamilton, and Diablo are all not that steep compared to some of the other climbs around. Personally for me, difficult climbs are the twisty steep stuff - Jamison Creek, Welch Creek, Bohlman-On Orbit, China Grade, Mix Canyon, among others. If you have to stay seated because you lose traction when standing up, and you wish you had a lower gear, that makes a climb difficult imo.

Unless you're really training to get stronger/faster, I'd just shift into the low gear and enjoy the views on the way up and down.
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