Ride Recap: Mt. Hamilton in the Fall


Ed. Below is the report of the club’s annual Mt. Hamilton in the Fall ride courtesy of co-leader David Gaus.

My first Mt. Hamilton in the Fall was in 2004. I was nervous: 4,000 feet of climbing over 22 miles was significantly more than in my very first century, the Marin, which I had completed just that summer. But it turned out to be a lovely day and probably on the warm side for late October except a couple of miles from the top I experienced leg cramps for the first time. Fortunately I had stopped to stretch just before the cramp hit. I was able to get to the top, got lots of advice on why I was cramping—not enough to eat, low sodium, dehydrated, probably all three—and then got to enjoy the (mostly) 18-mile descent. I’m not sure what year was the first time I led the ride when Sharon could not, maybe 2007. [Ed. Actually it was 2005.]

The last year I completed the entire route was 2016. In 2014 I led Ron H on a three-mile detour adventure—don’t ask me why I turned onto Clayton or why I didn’t realize my mistake sooner! By the time we got back up Hwy 130 we were so far behind everyone that when we came upon the riders coming back down, we turned around also. In 2017 I was running out of steam about three miles from the top and a friend and I both turned around. 

With almost two years of very little cycling compared to a normal year and four months of PT for hip pain, I could only offer to drive SAG for the ride. Thankfully Roger S offered to lead the ride with my SAG support offer.

Fuel (but unleaded!)

So early Sunday I was off to Vegan Donut Cafe to get donuts for the riders. My friend David P, who also was not up to attempting the ride—next year, though!—offered to co-pilot and pick up a Peets coffee traveler for the riders also.  The folks at Peets thought he wanted to order the $115 five-gallon “traveler”, and as he said “it would have been enough coffee for me for a month”.

MINI convention

Five riders—Will B, Alan L and his friend Jon, Mark C and Roger—headed out for the long climb to Lick Observatory. It was a gorgeous fall day, in the mid-fifties at the start and very pleasant in the sun. David and I leapfrogged the riders to the top, getting lots of photos along the way. There was a gaggle of MINI Coopers at the Grant Park regroup, having passed us on the way up. The entire Highway 130 seems to have been repaved making for excellent road quality. With the repaving the road was also restriped with a double yellow line making the lanes seem very small from the car. The SCU Lightning Complex fire burned so close to the observatories it must have been terrifying. All the fire hydrants are painted a bright red now. I’m so glad that they were able to stop it when and where they did!

Almost torched!

At the top everyone had a bit of lunch, between the last of the donuts or food or bars they sent up with us in the car, and then layered up for the descent. Will borrowed my sweatshirt for a bit of extra warmth for the first half to Grant Park, as he had only a pair of arm warmers with him. Alan was the first to arrive at the end of Highway 130; his smile after the longest descent he had ever done said it all! Somewhere between Grant Park and the end of Hwy 130, we lost Will. So David and I backtracked to where he had returned the sweatshirt. No sign of him and I kept thinking he must have turned off on Miguelita, the only alternate route that made sense. [Ed. Miguelita cuts off Highway 130 and more directly goes to Alum Rock Park.] Sure enough we got a text from Roger that Will made it back to the start. It was a nice day and hopefully next year I’ll be back for more but on two wheels.