Mt. Hamilton in the Fall – Sat 11/5

Sharon’s annual ride was almost cancelled on Thursday night due to a family emergency, but since I had been looking forward to it and the weather reports were favorable, I quickly agreed to lead it in her absence.

I found out later on that that some Spokers had silently breathed a sigh of relief when the ride was canceled, followed by an “oh, crap” when I un-canceled it Friday morning. Despite that sentiment, we had a great turn out on one of several fabulous fall ride days; Chris L. and Anne Z., Kim W. and Cheryl S., Tony M. and Roger H. on the tandem, Don D., Jerome T. and I tackled the 4000 foot climb.

There was an informal rest stop at Joseph D. Grant County Park, before the real climbing began. Getting there took just over an hour to complete the first 12 miles. The next 12 miles to the top takes an hour and a half (of actual ride time that is,) just so you have some perspective.

I was wearing my BikeJournal.com jersey that day, and as I passed another cyclist (very slowly, mind you, this is up a mountain after all) she asked my screen name. I didn’t quite hear her at first and after we talked (between breaths) it turned out she (and most her group, ahead of her) are also fellow “Ride, Log, Repeat” members. If you haven’t checked out this site yet, you should. Different Spokes San Francisco is set-up as a club now, in fact!

A couple miles from the top, my legs started feeling tight, so I pulled over to stop and stretch for a few minutes. Well it wasn’t stretching I needed, as I lifted my leg over the saddle, my thighs started to cramp. In 3 years of cycling, three times I’ve experienced leg cramps, twice was while doing Mt. Hamilton, and both this year, not pleasant.

I finished off the bottle of Gatorade/Accelerade mix, had a snack bar, and did some light stretching, while I contemplated the situation. Luckily, they passed relatively quickly and I (much slower this time) continued on the last few miles to the top. And thanks, Anne and Cheryl, for the tips on preventing future leg cramps!

At the top, there is no doubt, you are treated to a spectacular view in all directions, east towards Livermore/Patterson and the remote San Antonio and Arroyo Mocho Valleys, west to the entire Bay Area, the climb is well worth it.

After lunch, we began the descent, those comfortable in a speedy descent with hairpin turns and such left the cautions few at the rear. All arrived safely at the bottom, and we headed off in search of (what else?) coffee!

Looking forward to Sharon leading the ride next year!

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