Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving Ride

I have not been able to do most of the recent Low-Key Hillclimb rides, so I thought I would try to do the season finale — Mt. Hamilton. Instead, my friend Ravi invited me to join him and a couple other friends for the same route. Since I had not seen him for a while, I thought I would ride it with the smaller group.

I met Ravi a couple miles from home at 7:00am. After a few minutes, we were joined by Suraj, for whom this would be his first attempt up Mt. Hamilton. We rode the 15 flat miles to the base of Mt. Hamilton where we joined the final member of the group, Atri.

We started the climb at 8:40, which was 50 minutes before the Low-Key start. It was a cool and overcast morning, and it became even colder as we ascended. Fortunately the internal heat generated by the effort of climbing kept us comfortable. I expected to have a reduced fitness level since I have not been on the bike for long climbs for weeks. Yet, I decided to push myself and keep the same pace as Ravi. Suraj and Atri kept slower paces, so we stopped a couple times to regroup.

Ravi and me taking a break on the lower slopes. Photo by Suraj.

As we approached the summit, it became steadily brighter since we were reaching the upper level of the cloud layer. Then we started getting passed by the faster riders of the Low-Key group. Even with our head start, they are too strong for us.

With the final approach to the summit, we burst through the cloud layer. After stopping at the destination (Lick Observatory), we looked down at a vast white sea of clouds as we took in the warmth of the bright sun. We had reach the summit at 11:00am.

Looking down from the summit, we see that the very top section the road is in sunlight, while the lower part sinks under the cloud layer.
Photo by Stephen Fong, who rode the concurrent Low-Key Hillclimb.

We waited as first Suraj then later Atri arrived. We relaxed for some time before bundling up for the long, cold descent. The road was wet, but luckily not enough to make the descent treacherous. After reaching the bottom, Atri departed on his separate route home, while the rest of us retraced our morning route. I got back to the house at 3:10pm.

The ride was 6 hours total, and 8 hours 30 minutes on the bicycle. I reached home hungry, tired, and sleepy (since I did not get much sleep the previous night). It would have been a perfect time for a large Thanksgiving feast, but this year we were just having a quiet holiday at home. I ate a big lunch and took a nap.