Tag Archives: new years day

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,┬ásend an email to MikeJ@ChainReaction.com 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.


Mt Hamilton was popular today!

Quiet when we arrived, crowded when we left! We were quite surprised by the arrival of a large number of sports cars, filling the parking lot, and then some.
Quiet when we arrived, crowded when we left! We were quite surprised by the arrival of a large number of sports cars, filling the parking lot, and then some.

Yet another great day to be out on a bike! Instead of the usual Tuesday/Thursday-morning ride, it was time for the annual cruise up Mt. Hamilton, the Bay Area’s tallest mountain. I’d been looking forward to a more “casual” ride up the hill this time but that didn’t work out when Burt, my designated casual rider partner, let me know he was going up an hour earlier than our 9am starting time. Dang.

Eric leading Kevin through a hairpin.
Eric leading Kevin through a hairpin.
Closer look. Didn't realize Eric was so tall!
Closer look. Didn’t realize Eric was so tall!

Lots of people riding up the hill today, including Burt (former CR alumni), Steve L & Milo (former Tuesday/Thursday-morning riders), Eric (regular Tuesday/Thursday-morning rider) and Kelsey (if I’m getting his name right), one of our customers. Steve & Milo left just as we drove up, getting maybe a 10 minute lead on us, which Kevin (my son) decided to eradicate sooner than later. First he dropped Kelsey, then Eric drifted off the back a bit, then Eric caught back on and it was my turn off the back… which remained the case up the final climb to the top.

Milo riding strong!
Milo riding strong!

At one point I’m looking at my heart rate, 163, and thinking it’s going to be tough maintaining this for another 45 minutes or so. I’m hoping that maybe Kevin is close to redline so all I have to do is wait until he blows, so I ask him about his heart rate. Now keep in mind that, at almost 57, my max heart rate, absolute max before she blows, is going to be right around 170. Kevin, who’s just turned 20, has a max of around 200, so I’m expecting him to tell me he’s running at 180 or so. Uh… no. 167. I’m am so about to die and he’s just idling!!!

Very few cars on the way up, and not too many bicycles. Yet. That changed very quickly at the top, when we were joined by a sports car rally of some sort, descending, er, rather, ascending on the parking lot at the top en masse. Apparently, the no-entry sign that cyclists ignored was similarly-ignored by 4-wheeled motorized beasts as well.

We “cooled off” for a bit at the top, literally, as it was 34 degrees (according to a display in the observatory). They didn’t even have the observatory open at first, but when they did, it was questionable whether the surging mass heading for it was because people really had to go, or because they knew it was warm inside. Me? Both were good reasons to pay a visit! Even had a mild altercation with a local inside; there was a bin with a ton of newspapers in it, and I figured SCORE! Something to put in-between my base layer and jersey, to keep me a bit warmer on the way back down. Uh, no. Turns out they were the property of some generic old crotchety guy cleaning out his mailbox, and he wanted them, outdated Christmas ads & all. Pretty funny, actually.

On the way back down we started out together, but when we caught up with Burt at Grants Ranch, I dropped off to ride back the rest of the way with him. I wanted to do at lest part of this ride at a civilized pace! We were back at the start by 12:30, making it a 3.5 hour round trip. Not bad, and would have even had a sorta respectable time on the way up if not for a flat tire on the second climb.