The moon was in the Seventh House and Jupiter aligned with Mars, peace guided the planets, and a record 33 riders turned out for the annual Mt. Hamilton ascent last Sunday. Yes, the above picture is no PhotoShop creation; it’s 31 of the 33 lucky people (David Gaus is taking the picture and Rana is still readying her bike) who got to climb up to the Lick Observatory at the top of Mt. Hamilton on a beautiful sunny and warm—by autumn standards—day. Twenty of the 33 were not (yet) Different Spokes members, so special kudos to David Gaus, the ride host, for his tremendous outreach effort! There have been a couple of Lake Tahoe Weekend Spectaculars that may have been this crowded but it’s likely this ride will take the record at least for the modern era. I asked David what he had done to beat the bushes to get such a robust turnout. Besides posting it on the Different Spokes Facebook page, he also invited those who had participated in his and Bob McDiarmid’s ALC Sunnyvale training group as well as Team New Bear Republic. The rest were friends of all of the above. It goes to show that a little PR and outreach never hurt!
Speaking of records, six women rode—more women on the Different Spokes ride than I’ve seen since the days when Sharon Lum was leading Cinderella training rides and Chris LaRussell was President. Other notable Spokers in attendance were Brian Leath (Apparel Coordinator), Roger Sayre (Secretary), Ron Hirsch (Membership Chair), and William Bir (former Event Coordinator). Jaime Guerrero graced us with his presence as did Adrienne Ratner, who finally seems to have conquered a terrible chronic knee injury brought on by an accident on ALC some years ago, and Joseph Dintino and Lamberto Domingo, our two newest ride leaders.
Previous Mt. Hamilton rides, which are almost always in the fall, have seen frigid temperatures that have made us wishing for more layers on the descent. This year the weather was graceful with 60s all the way to the top making it “not too hot, not too cold.” Many who started with windbreakers, leg and arm warmers were shedding them during the ascent. Sharon Lum’s route wisely starts at the Berryessa Community Center rather than at the base of the climb. This gives you several miles of flat and gentle uphill to warm up for the climb proper. Then it’s 18 miles upwards with just two short descents in the middle to break up the monotony.
On climbs this long and with a group so large it’s near impossible to stay together—everyone rode at a pace that would get them to the top. Only Rana didn’t make to the top, her effort being derailed by a wrong turn (Roger and I have done that as well in the past. You only make the error once!) and running out of water. Despite the continuous and prolonged effort needed to get to the top, everyone seemed to be in high spirits; we certainly saw lots of smiles as we climbed.
At the top the view of the South Bay was spectacular—clear for miles—and cyclists and motorbikers alike were enjoying the scenery. Often you don’t want to linger at the top at this time of year because the wind is howling and the prospect of a chilling descent urges you to leave immediately. In the past I’ve lamented the lack of a coffee stand at the top—it would be the perfect way to cap off the climb (well, that and a chili dog with fries). So this year I took a thermos of coffee for Roger and me only to find out that they’re now serving hot coffee in the observatory gift shop—that’s definitely an improvement!