Sunday, May 5, 2013

A Hammy before Davis


Sunday mornings Davis snoozes, right along with the college kids. Forgot about that. The last waffle is in a baggie in the fridge up in Tobin. Time for Plan B. Beef jerky and pretzels from the Amtrak station's vending machine. The train comes; it's warm inside.

Meanwhile Jeff is heading for the Fremont/Centerville station. We're going for a ride. Because I need it and we need it, and also because of Danny's rule.

People are curious about training for a double century. It's complicated. But if you can do a Mt. Hamilton loop 3 weeks before Davis and feel good at the end, you're ready. That's the rule. We are late - Davis is only 2 weeks away - but this is our window.

Jeff is pretty sure he's never climbed Crothers before. A few minutes ago he was warned. We can avoid it. Still the dirt part and the 14% part, hello!

The road up the mountain is gentler. Mules dragged a lens for the telescope up from San Jose. Three reaches of 6-7 miles, with a little downhill after each climb. 22 miles, it's a long haul. Jeff has been training hard closer to home, climbing Mt. Diablo. I can tell he's tired. Diablo is a sister peak of Hamilton, both high points of the Diablo Range.

Finally, the beautiful white dome at the top.

The Mt. Hamilton Ascent was my second organized ride, ever. Up the mountain and then back down. It was 1997. Had never climbed a real hill. Had never stood up on the pedals. Both happened that day.

After the late start we opt out of climbing to the observatory. Instead it's hose water and a quick pocket snack. Then, down the back side to the San Antonio Valley.

This is how you do a Hammy, the Mt. Hamilton Challenge loop minus all the flat urban stuff. 105 miles, 8000 feet of climbing. 7 turns.

Jeff takes it slow, dictated by the hairpin turns and ripples in the pavement. Summers are so hot back here the pavement warps and buckles. He apologizes for the bumps (which are inevitable). I could give a rodent's behind, delirious to be out for a ride.


At the bottom, Isabel Creek and two smaller climbs present themselves. Jeff is holding on for the good part, the flatter part, the part where it actually helps to be on a tandem...

I'm holding on for lunch. Two days of running on empty. Fortunately, 19 miles past the summit comes the Junction Cafe. Two San Antone Burgers please. With fries. And pickles!

We join the motorcycle party outside. Wild pig is supposed to be tasty. Next time I'll order the BBQ pulled pork sandwich.

Now for Mt. Mocho. Two climbs, stoked by the hamburger and fries. We are out in the middle of nowhere or in motorcycle lingo, BFE.


There are people living on Mines Road, not many but a few. They're a different species than the suburbanites of Pleasanton and Livermore. Out here it's a little like Route 66. You're allowed to be eccentric. Eccentric is the rule...
One of the homesteads has a gate that's painted bright lilac. One is festooned with a dozen yellow ribbons and a small American flag, waiting for a soldier to come home. One has a yard full of "antiques" for sale. Ruth's Treasure and Trash, an excellent source of old-style fans.

All at once the landscape opens up, the road tilts gently down, and we start gaining speed into Arroyo Mocho. Gusts of wind buffet my ears, forearms and shins. The rest of me is shielded and it's hard to tell whether the wind is strong or we're just moving fast. It's impossible to know. Every few seconds the wind seems to change direction. No matter, the bike is cutting through it like a freight train.

Later Jeff reports our speed was 30-35mph. At the moment he's too happy to talk. Which is fine because it's hard to hear.

Feels a little dicey, taking pictures. Like the camera is going to be ripped away...

We pound through the wine country of Livermore, spin up Calaveras, careen down the Wall. Eight  hours after setting out we are back at the truck, my hands in the air in a gesture of victory. Legs a little weak but not sore.

Ready for Davis.

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