Am I ready for Mt. Hamilton?

The last Tuesday-Thursday morning ride of the year, following JR, Kevin and Marcus up Kings Mtn. Would it be so bad, for the new year, to have a wish for “selective” global warming? Make it just a little bit nicer riding through Woodside by borrowing some heat from a place that has too much?
The past year hasn’t bene too kind to my cycling abilities, but everything starts anew this Sunday right? And it starts out with a bang, as Kevin and I do our annual Mt. Hamilton gig. If things go according to plan, we’ll be taking the #422 Caltrain, which arrives in San Jose at 9:53am. It’s not quite the last stop; 7 minutes later it heads just a bit further south to the Tamien station, so if you’re planning to ride up the hill as well, don’t fall asleep!

It takes about 35 minutes from the train station to the base of the climb, so figure we’ll start riding up at about 10:40 or so. We’ll be at the top a bit after 12:30.

It takes almost exactly an hour to descend Mt. Hamilton to the base (Alum Rock), and another half hour to get back to the train station. Trains leave every hour, on the hour, so if we leave by 12:50 we can make it to the 2pm train for our return. This plan is highly susceptible to change based on my speed up the hill! If today’s ride is any indication, it’s not likely to be as fast as previous climbs up the hill.

Anyway, below is the Strava info from last years’ ride, if you want to get an idea of pacing. Temps are forecast as basically cold, so bring extra layers to put on for the cold trip back down the mountain!

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28 degrees… again? April can’t come soon enough!

Yet another sub-30-degree Tuesday/Thursday-morning ride. Used to be that I looked forward to rides cold enough that you got “credit” for being out there. But I think we’ve gone into “extra credit” territory lately!
It’s funny how much different 33 feels from 28. You’d think either would qualify as “too cold” without much distinction. You’d think wrong. Ironically, when you’re out there and you’ve got your Garmin computer configured to show temp, you’re kinda rooting for it to go as low as possible. The thing is, sure, that’s fine for a short, maybe a very short period of time. But you’d like it to warm up later in the ride right? But lately the sun seems to have gone for one of those work slowdown that workers do when it’s illegal to strike. The sun shows up, you can see it, but you can’t feel it actually doing anything.

It’s not that hard to dress properly for this type of weather; heavy-duty winter gloves will keep your hands functional (a bit of a stretch to say warm, but not too bad). Booties (shoe covers) keep your feet from getting frostbite. Winter tights for the legs, base layer, long-sleeved jersey and a sort of jersey-jacket over that. There you go; you can handle whatever the bay area can dish out in terms of “record cold” temps. Since getting treatment for my Raynauds (a condition that shuts off blood to your fingers and hands as temps drop), I don’t even get that nasty post-ride shower feeling where your fingers and toes are half-itching/half-painful as they’re thawing out. Used to hate that!

So yes, I can be relatively comfortable, but there’s no question that I’m also slow as a slug when it’s colder. There just seems nothing much I can do about that. I eat too much because my body wants to think it’s attached to a “normal” brain and is supposed to be hibernating, not climbing mountains on a bike, during the winter. And that slows me down because I’m carrying more up the hill, plus the cold & dry air is exactly the opposite of what works well for someone with asthmatic lungs like mine.

OK, the ride. Just three of us this morning. Kevin, Kevin, and me. We did see others out there on our return, including JR & Scotty… probably thinking they’re smarter than us because they waited until it got a bit warmer. Yeah, maybe, but there’s something to be said for sticking to the schedule and taking charge, rather than letting external forces take charge of you. As the Borg Queen would say, “Brave words, I’ve heard them before.” Well, I’ve got 3 or 4 more months of “brave” to go before I can ride when the “normal” people do. On nice days when the sun works and the pavement’s dry.

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