Trains & bikes, no planes, no automobiles as we took on Mount Hamilton

The last mile up Mount Hamilton, with an over-the-top soundtrack.

It’s Sunday, you need to get in something tough, and it’s tough to get in something tough without heading out to the coast. But how many variants of a ride to the coast can you do before it starts getting a bit repetitive? This coming from the guy who’s done the same loop every single Tuesday & Thursday morning for the past 30+ years, by the way. Kevin likes variety, while I like consistency and dedication. But looking out the window this morning and seeing the heavy marine layer still hugging the coastal hills, I was thinking maybe it’s time to head east, away from the clouds. Trouble is, it’s not so easy to head east on a bike; you’ve got the bay in the way, or a really long boring ride around it if you want to get anywhere decent. Or you drive, but I’ve really been trying to avoid that car thing lately. What to do.

Simple. Ride to the train station, take CalTrain to San Jose, ride up Mount Hamilton & return. Not much different from last Wednesday’s run up Sierra Road to see the Tour of California come through. So that’s what Kevin and I did, leaving the house at 10:50 to catch the 11:07 train (which ran 20 minutes late due to track work), got off in San Jose, hit every single red light you could possibly hit and had a very nice ride up Mount Hamilton. Nothing super fast; just under two hours, but Kevin’s not yet up to speed, and this was a very good opportunity for him to see where he was with the France trip coming up in less than two months.

I took a lot of video on the way up; still working out the kinks on that, figuring out how things work, how to get the least camera jitter, but what I really need to work on is the post-ride editing. Adding music is key to an interesting video, and clearly what I need to do is lay down the music track and then edit the video around it. Or I could ride with music playing and try to set the tempo accordingly, but that’s probably not so practical.

Eventually I’d like to set up a bunch of rides that can be easily accessed via public transportation (trains), so you can leave your car at home. Key to that will be identifying train stations that are close to places we like to ride, and hours that particular train system allows bikes. CalTrain allows bike on all trains, but BART is much more restrictive, keeping you off them during commute hours. That still leaves weekends! Using a combination of CalTrain, BART and the Capitol Corridor lines, we’ve probably got access to a pretty wide area.

5 thoughts on “Trains & bikes, no planes, no automobiles as we took on Mount Hamilton

  1. You made the right call. I climbed Kings at about 9:30 and it was miserable on top: 45°, windy, thick fog blowing through the trees causing “rain”, etc. I rode north to 92 and the crosswinds were hell, making for an unpleasant descent on Skyline. The tailwind on Canada was pretty nice, though!

  2. Now we’re talking!

    Two weeks ago the Google riders got up at O’dark thirty and took BART to Dublin before those nasty commute restrictions (OK, we got on a 5 AM train) and rode to Livermore and then over the backside of Hamilton and arrived at work promptly at … 2 PM or something like that, then the non-googlers took Caltrain home. Frequently we take a less epic route and get off in West Dublin around 7 AM and commute via Calaveras. “Commute”. Using BART and Caltrain you can knit together some good point to point rides.

    The Capitol Corridor you can take to Suisun/Fairfield and access some really excellent riding in the Wooden Valley, Berryessa, Ink Grade.

    Don’t forget the ferries! Caltrain to SF, then Ferry to Larkspur to get you to some of the better riding in Marin without having to deal with Sausalito, especially now with the tunnel from Larkspur into San Rafael now open.

    And Caltrain has a set of weekend bullet trains running now – so you can ride “Enilyks” (Skyline backwards) to San Francisco, around the horn to Caltrain and if you time it right, get back to Redwood City in under 30 minutes.

    If you’re willing to risk some capacity issues, and your bike being on the front of a bus, there are other options too, I’ve taken an express bus before work from San Mateo to Half Moon Bay then ridden back over Tunitas.

    1. John: You won’t see me getting on a train at 5am! Glad there are “morning” people in the world, to balance guys like me. But I do see the appeal in riding over Mount Hamilton from the backside and making it to work by 2pm.

      I mention to the guys on the ride this morning that they might be able to take the train to the Mount Hamilton bike race and use the ride from the station to the start as their warm-up. Of course, it becomes a pretty gnarly ride if you do the race from San Jose to Livermore, and then have to ride back to San Jose to catch the train! Guess you could take BART to SF and then Caltrain from there, but that’s a bit convoluted, even for me (and I’m a train fan). –Mike–

        1. Not a bad idea, although how much do you really shorten the ride doing that? Looks like about 15 miles, probably not worth the hassle. Now if we could ever get a rail line across the Dumbarton Bridge again… or if the ACE commuter line ran weekends…

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