Monthly Archives: December 2013

New Years Day Mt Hamilton ride details (check road conditions before heading out, due to fire)

Late-breaking news- due to a large grass fire near Grant Ranch, the road up Mt Hamilton might be closed. You may be able to get up-to-date info here; if there’s a yellow triangle on the map, click on it for any reference to road issues. You should also check the Caltrans site here. If both make no reference to road closures, we should be ok. –Mike–

We’re doing the annual New Years Day Mt Hamilton ride a bit differently this year, getting off to a much later-than-normal start because we’re taking the train! Anyone interested in joining us, we’ll be on the #422 CalTrain (the earliest southbound train on the holiday schedule) which leaves Redwood City at 9:07 and arrives in San Jose at 9:51am. From there plan on a 40 minute ride to the base of Mt Hamilton, so 10:30 should see us ready to go.

CalTrain #422 stops EVERYWHERE so you can join us anyplace along the way. If you haven’t taken a bike on CalTrain before, you’ll be placing it on a rack that stacks up to three other bikes next to it. I doubt the train will have that many bikes, but if it does, the potential for getting a scratch of two does exist. Also, good idea to write your final destination on a piece of masking tape and attach it to the top tube. For me, that would mean writing “REDWOOD CITY <======> SAN JOSE”. That way, on the way back in particular, people know not to stack a bike in front of yours if you’re getting off first.

Tickets for CalTrain have to be purchased BEFORE boarding, so allow a few minutes before arriving at the train station. Machines do take credit cards, even for small amounts.

If we start up the hill at 10:30, faster riders will be at the top by 12, slower riders 12:45 or so. Plan on spending 30 minutes at the top if it’s a beautiful day (which it should be!) and bring a camera! Also, bring crisp dollar bills for the coke machine. It will not accept soggy bills, so put them into a baggie and seal it. The descent is very long and not as fast as you’d think, so plan on an hour and a half ride back to the station, maybe even a bit longer. Returning trains leave from San Jose Caltrain every hour, on the hour, except for an extra train tossed in at 5:35pm. If you leave the top at 1pm, you should be able to make the 3pm return train.

If interested, send an email to so I have some idea if anyone’s coming. Not that it matters if it’s just two of us or 10… this ride goes on, no matter what.

The weather is expected to be in the upper 60s in San Jose but we could see as low as mid-40s on the climb and descent, so I’d recommend leg warmers, a light base layer, regular gloves and another pair of full-fingered, and a lightweight jacket. Hopefully you won’t need the extra clothing, but if you do, you’ll be really glad you brought it.

One last thing. Bring whatever you need to eat because, aside from cokes, you’ll be nowhere near a place you can buy food for four hours! Don’t risk bonking. It’s a long climb and you’re going to burn up a lot of calories.


Another end-of-year “Mileage Run”- 112 mile Santa Cruz loop

Remember the Spaceport in the first "new" Star Trek movie? That's it, just to the right of Kevin. Who knew it was just north of Davenport on Highway 1.

Remember the Spaceport in the first “new” Star Trek movie? That’s it, just to the right of Kevin. Who knew it was just north of Davenport on Highway 1.

I’m not happy with my cycling mileage this year; I was shooting for 7200 and ended up quite a bit short of that. As of yesterday, over 600 miles short. 7200 is simply out of the question this year, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t go down in flames getting a bit closer! Best way to do that? The usual. The BIG loop. Redwood City/Woodside/LaHonda/Pescadero/Santa Cruz/Highway 9/Skyline North/84 into Woodside and home. 112 miles which, at “only” 9000ft of climbing, doesn’t quite qualify as a mountainous ride, but it makes up in quantity for what it lacks in quality.

This would be a “racing the sun” ride too, given its length, our leisurely starting time (8:30am) and it being not to far from the shortest day of the year. As such we were fully equipped with lights and backup lights. We hoped to make it back just before dark, but not an issue if we couldn’t. My primary concern was how Kevin would hold out, since he’s missed quite a bit of riding lately. Turned out to be only a minor issue.

The weather, for winter, couldn’t be much nicer. A bit cool at the start (low 40s through some parts of Woodside, upper 30s in the chill box just outside of Pescadero) but warmed up nicely on the coast (mid-60s) before cooling off just a bit (mid-50s) for most of the ride back home. No wind to speak of, which was a bit disappointing because it’s a lot of fun when you’re pushed down the coast!

Our new favorite place to eat in Davenport

Our new favorite place to eat in Davenport

Our new favorite stop for lunch is the Davenport Café, just across the street from the Whaler Café which used to be our refueling stop. Nothing wrong with the Whaler Café, but the Davenport Café has some great food offerings (the burritos today were perfect), much faster service and a lot less crowded. Funny thing about eating on a ride though. A full burrito, especially one the size they serve at the Davenport Café, is probably too much. We would have been better off ordering just one and splitting it. But here’s the odd thing about that. If you weren’t riding, you’d quite possibly be eating more.

By far the least-enjoyable part of this ride is the Santa Cruz to Boulder Creek section. Narrow, crowded and often drivers who don’t think cyclists belong on the road. Today we had a woman yelling out of her car, driving the opposite direction, that we should be riding at the side of the road.

So many type of Mtn Dew, which to choose?

So many type of Mtn Dew, which to choose?

Um, ok, we were riding maybe half a foot from the edge; beyond that was a railing and beyond that a pretty good drop-off to the creek below. She really didn’t have any idea where we were on the road; she just wanted to harass cyclists. I told Kevin she should be more appreciative that by cycling instead of driving, we were doing our part to reduce the demand, and thus cost, of gasoline for her car.

But Boulder Creek is where it all gets better because the traffic thins out, because just a couple more miles and you start up a real climb (about time!), and most of all, because the gas station/minimart has more varieties of Mtn Dew than I knew existed. 16 ounces of caffeinated sugar water later (plus enough bottled water to make two more bottles of Skratch energy drink) we were off on the final stretch home. Still on the “wrong” side of the hill, but somehow you feel that last 37 miles or so is easy.

This stopped me in my tracks. Caught it in the corner of my eye heading north on Skyline, circled back to get a photo.

This stopped me in my tracks. Caught it in the corner of my eye heading north on Skyline, circled back to get a photo.

Well, not really that easy today, not for Kevin. His recent lack of miles was slowing him down a bit until about two miles from Skyline, when the energy damping field reversed and he found the strength to ride strongly the rest of the way home. Spirited enough that he tried to steal the Skyline Palo Alto City Limit sprint (nothing doing!) and thought he could pull off the Albion sprint as we approached the end of the ride. Got to tell you, it wasn’t easy to hold him off, but I did, and I’m going to work at continuing to do that in the future.