This was the 6th trip to Bay Area for my Ritchey Breakaway (and 15th trip overall). My Ritchey visited San Francisco area twice in 2011, went on three trips in 2012 and now another trip, first of hopefully several for 2013.
On Day 1 I met with my friend Keith who now lives in Bay Area, for a ride that included Morgan Territory and Mount Diablo - similar to queen’s stage of this year’s Tour of California. Only 65 miles and 6,700 ft of climbing but felt longer and tougher than it sounds:
For day 3 I did an epic “greatest Hits of Marin County and SF” (again) 74 miles and 8,100 ft of climbing - included Mill Valley, Mt. Tam, Stinson Beach, Muir Beach, Muir Woods, Sausalito, Headlands, Golden Gate Bridge, Golden Gate Park and Twin Peaks.
Today I rode up Mt. Hamilton - the West side of Mt. Hamilton is an 18 mile climb (from East Foothills) with a few short descents thrown in the middle - so even though Mt. Hamilton sits at 4,200ft elevation, the 18-mile west side climbs a bit more, 400 ft or so, than if descents weren’t there. And of course on the way back the descents become short but annoying climbs that interrupt the rhythm of a good descent. The final section of ascent is about 6.5 miles long and is very steady at 6%. Nothing too steep.
East side of Mt. Hamilton is steeper and shorter - it drops 2,000 ft in 4.5 miles, for an average of about 8%. A lot of very sharp switchbacks.
After the first 3 miles of climbing (almost a 1,000 ft) I had a flat - I changed it but decided to go back to the car to get another spare tube. By the time I started climbing again it was 10AM - and the temperatures were forecasted to be in the 90ies in Livermore and even warmer inland.
About half way I had my first encounter with a mountain lion. I have lived in California for 5 years now and has never seen one in the wild. It looked like a large cat and was standing by the side of the road staring at me. It must have decided that I am no threat because it then proceeded to slowly cross the road right in front of me. I was too slow to reach for my camera, by the time I got it out the mountain lion was gone in the bushes.
The scenery was absolutely amazing, see the photos below. By the time I got to the final 6.5 mile section of west side, leading to Observatory, it was hot - it went from 64F at the start to 90F in the final section of the climb to the top! I ran out of water, but I knew there was water at the top.
It took me 2 hours to go 18 miles! I decided to venture onto the backside, descending 5 miles on the east side of Hamilton and then riding up again, for an extra 2,000 ft. The descent on the east side was fast with a lot of tight corners and reduced radius turns - no cars whatsoever. I think I only saw one car going up.
Now the temperature was 98-99 with sun on my back, completely exposed to the sun with almost no shade and very little breeze. It was hot!
I suffered through the climb up to the top at pedestrian speed of 6mph or so, refilled my water bottles (I drank two bottles on my 45-minute climb of east side) and descended down to East Foothills. The temperature was still 95F at the finish. The two short climbs on the way back were annoying, as I had no energy left. But descending west side was a lot of fun, with good road surface (for the most part - they were doing some resurfacing today) and nothing too technical or dangerous. No sight of mountain lion on the way back (I had my camera ready but no luck). A fun day in the sun, even though a bit on the hot side for me.
57 miles with 7,700 ft of climbing. Strava suffer score of 272 - felt a lot worse than that though. After so many tough rides in the past 5 days I am really tired. Was barely moving today but glad to finish the ride as intended, plus extra mileage due to the flat.
Since I was visiting Berkeley I wanted to get in a Descenders ride with recent NorCal transplants - Keith and Dave Voris. We met at Castro Valley and soon were climbing up Redwood Road, which offers some of the most beautiful views.
The descend down Pinehurst was superfast and superfun! It moved into shaded redwood area.
Climb up Pinehurst was pretty hard - with Keith pushing the pace at the front. We stayed together but Keith easily pulled away towards the end to take the bragging rights.
We turned on Skyline and descended towards Redwoods from where we retraced our tracks back. There were some more fast descending and of course more climbing and then some more descending, with some roller sections in-between. Almost zero flat miles! Not much traffic and very few stop signs.
Our cooldown was done on a road very appropriately named “Seven Hills Rd.” It was like riding on a rollercoaster. We extended the cooldown by doing an extra loop, and then went to a nearby Chipotle for a few burritos and some catching up.
A fantastic ride with some great Bay Area Descenders! 36 miles and 3,300 ft climbed (Voris got 500ft more than me, it must be adjusted for height or size).
Strava suffer score was 143 for me - which is high, for a two hour “friendly” and “easy” Tuesday evening 35mi ride.