The time was ripe for another car- or bike-swap training adventure! Ferrell's next big race is the Santa Barbara triathlon in 1 week, and for me it's the GraniteMan Challenge in 2 weeks. I needed a good hard "anchor" bike ride with hard elevation gain and comparable to the 102 mile GraniteMan race (aka the Mammoth Gran Fondo). Ferrell cooked up this training ride idea (half baked? fully baked?) - I'd drive out to Livermore, park my car in the Safeway parking lot, and ride out Mines Road into the back country of the Diablo Range, hitting Hwy 130 and climbing to the top of 4,220 ft Mt Hamilton, then descending down the winding switchbacks of Mt Hamilton Road to San Jose. Meanwhile, Rick and Scott Martin would park their car on the business boundary of Alum Rock Rd before it starts to climb, and do the reverse. It would be 6,600 ft of climbing, exactly what I'd confront at the Mammoth Gran Fondo, and about 70 miles.

The idea sounded great! But earlier in the week I reserved the right to cancel out and do a cooler ride up Hwy 1 to get in my miles, as there was a brutal heat wave and temperatures well over 100F in the inland ranges. I'd confronted heat stress before, when I parked my car at the top of the ridge above Lake Del Valle years ago and after completing a swim race, biked back to my car. It was only 3 miles; how hard could it be? But I didn't drink or pack water like I should have, and the temperature was over 100F, and I got incredibly hot, dizzy, and nearly passed out as I got to the ridge top. Heat stress takes some time to recover from, and I didn't want to experience that again. But luckily, this week's weather changed and predicted high temperatures were only in the high 80's for Saturday. So, like James Bond at the Casino Royale betting tables, I was "All In".

But, this time I would make sure I had enough water. I packed my two water cages, including a bottle of CytoMax for electrolytes and energy, and wore my red CamelBak filled to the brim with water. I also carried along 4 ABC bars from Trader Joes, a "Just Salty" packet (a freebie as some race or other), and made a vege/chicken/kale/mayo wrap which would be my reward once I got to Lick Observatory. And - a sandwich bag of mixed nuts and dried cranberries. My CamelBak must have weighed close to 8 lb. But since my steel bike weighs already about 8 lb more than Ferrell's, what another 8? It turns out I needed that CamelBak.

I timed my start to make maximum use of pre-dawn light and maximize the cool hours. My cyclo-thermometer read in the mid 50's but the actual air temperature was prediced to be 59F now.

Sunrise, as I head up Mines Road after the Del Valle split

The near Full Moon sets over the ridge soon after the sun lights it up

I was grateful the road hugged the shaded west-facing side of the canyon as I rode up.

Eventually, the sun is not to be denied, and getting up the canyon, I watched my thermometer rapidly climb in the high 70's as I got into the hotter, drier air above the marine layer.

The road climbs and descends some hills up near the top of the canyon, eventually opening up to this wide valley, far enough from civilization to be pretty much cowboy country. Quite beautiful!

I crossed over this creek, with the temperature now into the low 80's, and rode on another half mile or so... thinking to myself how great it would be to soak my jersey in those waters... and too tempted, I rode back. But found the brambles and rocks made getting to the water impossible. Doh!

A few miles further, and there's the junction with the road down to the Central Valley and Patterson. My goal - San Jose - was still 38 miles up ahead

Some more rollers, and then this wide expanse of ranchland flowers. Unexpected this late in the season.

Over another ridge and then some really funky old mining country and structures.

By now, I'm only 3 miles from the base of the notorious "climb" - the last 5 miles to the top of Mt Hamilton is a relentless 8% grade, with pitches of up to 11%, one lasting almost a mile. Facing east these had been baking in the sun all morning. Now at 11am, the asphalt was toasty and the risk was heat stress. 11% grades I can handle, for miles even, if it's cool. But, in the heat? Well, I was a bit worried. It was about time that I run into Ferrell and Scott, I figured, and indeed...

Suddenly there they were! Getting this far we're "all in" and so we were glad to see each other. Turn-backs would be logistically difficult.

We found the bit of shade of a lone tree and snapped a few photos and traded stories. Then, onward...

As we parted, I tried an over-the-shoulder shot, but my camera leash got in the way. The next mile was an exhilerating downhill, crossing a big bridge over a creek - and then the real work begins. 2,000 ft of climbing. The first mile I huffed up OK, but there was no breeze and I could feel my personal temperature climbing rapidly. My cyclo-thermometer read as high as 104F. I sucked like crazy on my Camelbak, glad I still had plenty of water. But soon, the pitch got to 11% and I could feel heat stress coming on. I got off the bike, rested in the shade of a pine tree (shaded spots were maybe 15 feet wide, separated by 100 yards or more, with the tall sugar pines that dotted the area). Heat stress is something you don't quickly bounce back from, and I had to walk my bike from shade spot to shade spot, panting from the heat, not the exertion. I figured I might even have to walk the entire last 3 miles, when...

...up ahead, a metal pipe coming down out of a small draw, cool water pouring out! Oh Lord! I'm saved! I spent a good 12 minutes here, soaking every inch of me, with extra time for my face and head. That got my core temperature back down, and with jersey soaked in cool water, I was able to remount and complete the last 3 miles.

My cyclo-thermometer reads 94F

These last 3 miles my Cyclo-thermometer had no such relief from the spring water, and you can see it exceeded the 2 digits allowed for temperature (no fool would be riding at temperatures over 99F, figured the engineers!). That "02" means 102F.

And then, the road shallowed and the old firelookout came into view - the top!

Around the next corner, the 120" Shane Telescope dome. I pedaled the next 1/4 mile to the 36" telescope main building, rounding the last hairpin turn to the top of the parking lot, and with only 10 yards to go.... my right hamstring goes into full seizure lock up! I had to walk the last 10 yards - ouch!

Salt stains. Glad I brought some extra salt to avoid real trouble.

As an astronomer, this place has many fond memories. Both doing observing runs, and bike climbs. Great I can still be doing these things at my age

Looking down at the switchbacks of Mt Hamilton Rd. This road was designed to have no slopes great than 6%, calculated to allow horse-drawn wagons to bring up the pieces of the first mountain top observatory in the world in the 1880's. On the east side I'd come up - no such consideration!

In the background is the 40" Nickel telescope dome. People are always surprised to learn that the 40" scope needs a much smaller dome than the older, smaller 36" refractor telescope that the observatory was first designed for.

Then, it was lock into down-hill mode for 19 miles, riding the drops around hundreds of hairpin turns, two more climbs, and the final descent into Alum Rock. I arrived at our traditional parking place just as I saw Rick Ferrell taking his bike out of my car and loading it into his car. The timing was perfect! A few more pictures, congrats, and our adventure was complete. I was quite happy to suck down two 24oz bottles of my home-made protein shakes at this point, packed for the purpose (bananas, kiwis, an apple, a few blackberries, cocoa powder, soy protein isolate, and a handful of sunflower seeds)