Sunday, April 13, 2014

Ride report: Dunbarton Hamilton 200

As folks on Strava know, we've been keeping up the long distances rides over the last couple months and working on getting a bit faster moving speeds. We're signed up for the full San Francisco Randonneur (SFR) brevet series this year. The 200k, 300k and 400k were successfully completed, the latter just 2 weeks ago in some very wet conditions.
We now have a lull as the 600k is not until 10th May, so for our April brevet we had to invent something of our own. We've been itching to re-ride the Dunbarton/Hamilton 200k loop, after crawling our way around in a mid-summer blaze last year, and so today was a perfect opportunity to do that.

The route heads out over the always-blustery Dunbarton bridge, and then up Niles Canyon road which can be pretty busy on occasion, but is always pretty pretty and is the first chance to feel like you're a getting out of the south bay urban sprawl.

After a stop in Livermore (thankfully, no grass fire just outside town this time, so clear air) it was on to rural Mines Road, all 40 miles of it to the top of Mount Hamilton and so which makes up the largest piece of the ride. As we hit the first steep climb up out of the Livermore valley, the morning clouds had completely cleared and the sun was working in full force. Fortunately still a lot cooler than the 110°F (43°C) we hit last time we road this route! A mere 22°C at the bottom, raising to about 30 when we hit the next stop.
The Junction cafe is ideally placed 20 miles into Mines Road. It had been closed for a change of ownership and renovations at the start of the year, this was our first chance to see the all-new look and we were very happy to see nothing radical had changed, it still has all its back-of-beyond charm. And while the menu has been extended with lots of tasty barbecue fare, the trusty favourites like mac and cheese and a top-notch Root Beer float were still there for us to enjoy!

The climb to the top of Hamilton is a long haul. 15 miles is rolling with a couple big raises, and then you hit 5miles of wall. On paper it's 8% grade average, but I'm sure parts are a good bit more than that. Happily the views are amazing and just get better as you climb, eventually opening out to see right to the Sierras on a good day. Alas a bit too hazy to come out in pictures today, but still it took the mind of the climb.
The second reward on passing Lick observatory is 18 mile descent on the west side, right down to the edge of San Jose. We got there with 9:30 on the clock and thought we might finish in a little over ten hours. Alas the continual stop lights skirting the city, and a strong headwind that had whipped up coming off the bay, meant this was the one part of the day's ride where we were slower than on our prior 13+ hour attempt last year.
Still, the Sunnyvale Fair Oaks 7-eleven eventually arrived, and more ice-cream duly consumed to mark completion of a successful day's ride.