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Awesome San Jose / Hamilton experience

Old 10-22-13, 10:06 AM
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MattG42C
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Awesome San Jose / Hamilton experience

I feel compelled to post about the great riding experience I had a couple weekends ago while staying with my wife in San Jose.

I rented a Scott Foil w/ Ultegra from Undiscovered Country Tours at a very reasonable price with the goal of doing Mount Hamilton on Saturday, and some bonus riding on Sunday based on how the legs felt. They setup the bike exactly to my specs and delivered it to our hotel for a small extra fee.

Coming from Minnesota where the longest climbs around are generally less than 1.5 miles, Mount Hamilton was a great challenge. The last 4 miles were particularly tough, just slightly steeper than the preceding miles, and the observatory looms there, never seeming any closer until you finally make the last corner. Cars were few and courteous when passing and I had several great conversations with people at the top. The descent was a blast, and in hindsight I probably could have been more aggressive, but again, no descents in my area that go on for miles and miles; certainly none where any big misstep would result in a very long fall.

Sunday the legs felt cooked, so I decided to ride the Guadalupe River Trail from the hotel. Pleasant ride, vaguely reminiscent of the Midtown Greenway in Minneapolis, in that it passes most crossings below grade. The Google Bicycling Map had indicated a bike trail that went further around the bay starting in Old Alviso (sp?), but apparently that was a pea-gravel trail or something not passable by a road bike.

I'm planning a return trip, probably next fall, and want to do Hamilton again and hopefully a loop with Old El Honda & Tunitas Creek. The hard part is figuring out the right training at home to prepare.

TL;DR - thanks from a flatlander to NoCal for an awesome experience!
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Old 10-22-13, 06:47 PM
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Very nicely done Matt. I am sure it was quite an experience for you. Here are a couple of options for rides the next time you come out our way. Mt. Hamilton and Mr. Diablo are the two main climbs in the Devil Mountain Double Century. There are links to recon rides around 100 miles each, and some shorter ones that get more specific to each mountain.
http://ridewithgps.com/trips/32087
http://ridewithgps.com/routes/242552
http://ridewithgps.com/routes/869353
http://ridewithgps.com/routes/2796957
Hope one or more of these helps you.
If you need maps and ideas, just go to Ride with GPS. Plug in the city/town you want to start from and find rides. I use Ride with GPS all the time to look for routes on our travels. It is a great source of information
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Old 10-22-13, 07:17 PM
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Lanceoldstrong
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Great ride and great report. I have great respect for your guts to tackle this with nothing but Minnesota base miles.
My wife is from there and I was just getting the cycling bug in 2006 when we visited. I rented a Fuji mountain bike in Crosby and rode my first ever 30 miler from Aitkin to to Crosby and back. I crossed the Mississippi twice by bike, on the way out of Aitkin and on the way back. Except for some rollers here and there by the river, flat____________________________, like that.

Now I am cuckoo for for hill climbs and have done the Devil Mountain Double Century twice. I was more sore after that first 30 miles in Minnesota though. That 30 miles made me feel like I was on top of the world, flat world or not.
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Old 10-22-13, 07:21 PM
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Where do people normally park if they want to climb Mt. Hamilton?

I don't mind starting somewhere flatter so that I can warm up before hitting the climbs.
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Old 10-22-13, 08:41 PM
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Thanks for the kudos folks.
@Tycho Brahe, I started from my hotel downtown, but it looks like a lot of people also on the mountain started from a dirt parking lot right near the start of Mt Hamilton Road. Other threads referenced a nearby elementary school (presumably best on the weekend?).
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Old 10-22-13, 08:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Lanceoldstrong View Post
Great ride and great report. I have great respect for your guts to tackle this with nothing but Minnesota base miles.
My wife is from there and I was just getting the cycling bug in 2006 when we visited. I rented a Fuji mountain bike in Crosby and rode my first ever 30 miler from Aitkin to to Crosby and back. I crossed the Mississippi twice by bike, on the way out of Aitkin and on the way back. Except for some rollers here and there by the river, flat____________________________, like that.
If you're familiar with the 'coulee' near Afton (east of the MSP metro,) I did repeats of that many, many times in preparation. Here is the Strava segment: http://www.strava.com/segments/643658

My aunt & uncle have a cabin near Aitkin and I did a metric there a few years back. Very flat, but also very few cars. The new MTB trail near Crosby gets high marks I hear.
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Old 10-23-13, 06:00 AM
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Nice work MattG42C. Not sure if I'd want to be too aggressive on the descent due to the amount of loose gravel I found on many corners... If fact it was where I came closest on a head on last August after being forced to abort a corner due to coming in too hot and gravel on the apex and head straight on!

Originally Posted by Tycho Brahe View Post
Where do people normally park if they want to climb Mt. Hamilton?

I don't mind starting somewhere flatter so that I can warm up before hitting the climbs.
Standard car parking appears to be at the junction of Alum Rock Ave and Mt Hamilton rd. If you want a warm up, it is easy to traverse across to Piedmont rd which traverses the hills above San Jose. If you want a real warm up, you can do like I did and also include the loop over Sierra rd first.

Day two from my recent three week USA riding holiday - http://climbinglama.blogspot.com.au/...ad-and-mt.html
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Old 10-23-13, 07:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Dalai View Post
Nice work MattG42C. Not sure if I'd want to be too aggressive on the descent due to the amount of loose gravel I found on many corners... If fact it was where I came closest on a head on last August after being forced to abort a corner due to coming in too hot and gravel on the apex and head straight on!
The loose gravel I saw climbing were definitely part of my reasoning as well. I wouldn't have taken the blind corners any quicker, but there were other times where I could've laid off the brakes a bit more.

-Matt.

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Old 10-25-13, 12:19 PM
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I was undecided between riding Mt Hamilton or the Old El Honda & Tunitas Creek loop this Sunday (never done either), but your positive post inspired me to do Mt Hamiton.

Post again before riding next fall and maybe I'll join you.
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Old 10-25-13, 04:24 PM
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I used to live in Berkeley and Oakland (I now live in Vancouver, Canada), and one of my first century rides back in 1972 was the Mt. Hamilton Century. A beautiful ride, especially along the backside towards Livermore.

Starting from San Jose, you did the "easy side." I was in the East Bay around Christmas of 2011, doing some recce for my 2012 California Triple Crown on fixed gear. The climb up Mt. Hamilton is long but not steep, easy to do on fixed. What would be difficult would be going up the backside, which looks like what happens on the Devil Mtn Double. I parked my car in the informal lot at Alum Rock and Mt. Hamilton Rd and rode with a club to the observatory, then continued down the other side. I thought of turning back, but seeing how steep the road was, I decided it would be easier to continue on to Livermore and complete the loop via Calaveras Rd. back to the start (making it a century!).

Good thing I had lights on the bike. I returned in the dark, but it was a great ride, and the car was just fine after being parked there all day.

Luis
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Old 10-25-13, 08:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Tycho Brahe View Post
Where do people normally park if they want to climb Mt. Hamilton?

I don't mind starting somewhere flatter so that I can warm up before hitting the climbs.
I prefer to park a short distance away, just to get a little bit of a warm up. It's not much, but it's pretty easy access, and the roads leading to the start of the climb are pretty safe. I don't know how to attach a kmz file, but the parking lot is the first driveway north of the Post Office on Piedmont Rd at Sierra Rd. Just look it up in Google Maps, what I like about it is on the weekend, it's usually empty, there are large trees to give you car shade all day, and it's close enough to the road to be safe from possible thieves. Gives you a couple miles of warm up too.
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Old 10-28-13, 08:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Tycho Brahe View Post
I was undecided between riding Mt Hamilton or the Old El Honda & Tunitas Creek loop this Sunday (never done either), but your positive post inspired me to do Mt Hamiton.

Post again before riding next fall and maybe I'll join you.
Hope it went well!

Sounds good, I'd put the odds at ~50-50 next year, but for sure sometime in the next two years. My wife's event in San Jose is an annual occurrence.
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