Rick Ferrell and Rick Molinar are heading to Hawaii next month to do the famous Mt Haleakula Time Trial; 10,000 ft of climbing in one long steep slog. Yesterday (friday May 12) at our swim workout, Ferrell hatched another of his storied spur-of-the-moment training days for us. We drive out to Alum Rock and do the Mt. Hamilton climb, to Lick Observatory, back down, and then back up again. For Rick, that would be an even 10,000 ft of climbing and 76 miles, a worthy test of his mettle. For me, I'd do the climb once and down, and then head back up towards the summit again for a second, but Ferrell and I would cross paths at some point, he coming back down from his 2nd summit, and we'd both head back down from there. Our guess is that I'd make it as far as the top of the first 1700 ft sustained climb to the backside of the front ridge when we'd meet.

The ride consists of 3 climbs and two downhills. The first climb is 1700 ft, to the middle of the backside of the front ridge. The second climb begins at Grant Lake and gets to just before the fire station and the creek. The last climb is the bruiser - endless switchbacks to the pinnacled summit where the classic dome of the 36" Crossley refractor resides, and the residence hall and dining hall for the astronomers.

It was a great ride in perfect conditions - cool! If we'd had 80+90F temperatures as possible in May, we'd have been dogging it. Even though I was still draining and recovering from last week's bout with the flu, I was game, and had a fabulous ride which I thoroughly enjoyed. Great suggestion, Rick!


9am. We're ready to mount up

Ferrell quickly receeds into the distance. He's younger, stronger, has a light carbon bike, etc.

For the rest of the ride, I'm free to keep up my own good pace, enjoy the flowers, play Rachmaninoff concertos in my mind, breathe deep to help clear my diseased lungs, and grab my Bento-bagged' camera for the occasional shot.

Here on the second climb, above Grant Lake Park

A bird takes flight from an old oak

I had to stop to photo this full grown beautiful gopher snake, so smugly confident he was invisible with his camo coloring was he, I got a nice close up

The domes come into view, but it's still another 5 miles of winding road to go

Less than a mile now

The 36" and the 120" domes both, and my gnarly bike glove in perfect focus

Rounding up the driveway to the 36"

Victory! I'm licking the peanut butter and jelly off after my well-waited for reward reaching the top. 2:50min for today, which was about 5 minutes slower than I'd hoped, but OK considering my having the flu last week and my congested lungs. Also, I took a little off given this wasn't the Low Key Hill Climb Time Trial, which is my usual reason for being here

Lots of other cyclists were here today, especially since tomorrow is off limits - the Tour of California stage ride comes up the mountain on Sunday

Heading down now, a pause at the classic dining hall - scene of many fond memories from years past.

Our final meetup; turned out to be just past the top of the first long climb, on the backside of the front ridge. Ferrell's in a hurry to get back down and find the nearest TacoBell. I grab a few lung full's of air before the long descent.

So, after starting off, I didn't see Rick again until 4 miles from the summit, when he was heading down and I still heading up. He shouted "Doctor!". Indicating we were all still good. The second time we crossed, it was near the end of the first climb, he heading up for his second summit assault, and I heading down from my 1st. He shouted "Progress", and I asked to make sure we were still on-plan - we were. The final meetup was about the same place, in the last photo. An epic ride! This was, I believe, my highest climbing day on the bike - 6,700 ft (and 51 miles). Beating out my partial "Markleville Death Ride" in 2010 by about 300 ft. It was Ferrell's strongest climbing day too - 10,000 ft and 76 miles. I would say the Lone Pine climb for me, last summer, was harder, though, because the grade was steeper and unrelenting, although the total miles was only 14, it was 11-12% grade or more, all of the way. Mt Hamilton's not that steep, about 6% most of the way.