more than just another bike blog

Thursday, November 23, 2006

cold thanksgiving ham

Because I don't have any family, I tend to avoid holidays like the plague. Instead, I do epic rides. Or fun rides. Or any kinda of ride. I always get invitations to spend the holidays with friends and their families, but I'd much rather ride my bike and gloat than over-indulge and feel guilty.

When my friend Kim told me she wanted to ride Mt. Hamilton for Thanksgiving, I was thrilled. I've only climbed it once -- in April of this year. It's the perfect climb for me. Not too steep (I like to spin when I climb) and perfect to really get your climbing rhythm. For those of you not familiar with Mt. Hamilton, it's a 19 mile climb in San Jose with an average grade of maybe 5% -- a little steeper in a few places and about two miles of descending during the climb.

We decided to do the short version -- climb up 20 miles and then descend 20 miles. Kim's husband, Jeff, would be joining us. Since neither of us like riding in the cold, we decided to start at the very civil hour of 10:00am. Unlike my ascent in April which was warm, foggy, and drizzly, today's ride was clear and crisp!

Kim is a great climber. She usually blows me away within minutes but today her legs were heavy. Jeff took off and Kim and I rode at a pretty mellow pace. After about 30 minutes, her legs woke up and we picked up the pace just a bit. As we climbed, we saw some of the low-key hill-climb folks, including Flandria and her hunny and Marie B and Laura and Ben and a bunch of other folks I don't remember.

I guess none of us are ready for winter riding yet. We only wore base layers, short-sleeve jerseys, and vests. I wore my gore-tex gloves (thinking as we left that it would be overkill) and put a pair of chemical toe-warmers in my shoes. As an afterthought, I threw a thermal headband in my jersey for the descent.

Well, it was cold. I just checked the weather and it was only 41 degrees with about 20mph winds when we arrived at the top. Of course, I sweat like nobody's business, so all of my clothes were soaked by the time I got to the top, even though it was pretty cold climbing. Luckily, I knew the secret back-door to the bathrooms and that glorious heater, so we took a leisurely break at the top (25 minutes) and dried our clothes. We were all dreading the descent because it was so cold. We contemplated asking one of the tourists in their SUV to drive us down but decided that would be wimpy.

Kim is a great descender on the twisty switchbacks, but she couldn't get her rhythm today and fell quite a bit behind me. I was dizzy and my vision was doing something strange like a delayed reaction everytime I moved my head. I tried to ignore it, but I found myself drifting too wide on many of the switchbacks -- oops! But even so, my descending was pretty darn good. My left-hand switchbacks are pretty weak, but I've been working on my hip flexibility and it seems to have worked!

We stopped a couple of times on the way down to get warm. Jeff could tell that Kim wasn't feeling well and even offered to go get the car, but we plugged on. As we continued our descent, the chill seemed to leave the air a bit. Arriving back at the car, we were all pink and freezing. After a quick change into warm woolies, we stopped at Starbuck's for cocoa and gingerbread latte -- aaahhhh!

Back home, a hot bath, a yummy dinner, and a snuggle with my puppy and life is complete.

I can't think of a better way to spend my Thanksgiving than doing an epic ride like Mt. Ham with my good friends.


At 11/24/2006 8:20 AM, Blogger lauren said...

yesterday was such a perfect day for riding. glad you got to enjoy it!

At 11/24/2006 9:19 AM, Blogger marscat said...

sounds like a perfect day.

At 11/24/2006 12:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

it was a fun ride and nice to see you! we rode on our own and did see a bunch of low key riders...


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