This Thanksgiving Day event is a great experience! I recommend the "Low Key Hill Climb" series to anyone who likes friendly competition on big hills, especially this finale. I have obviously many fond memories at Lick Observatory, from my grad student UCLA days, to my research days at UCSC, and a growing number of hill climbing adventure now as well. Today was a classic. I felt great, after recovering from the Big Sur Half Marathon of 10 days earlier and feeling pretty strong. I'd had some rest days and one good training day 5 days before, doing my standard 60 mile ride up through the local mountains. I was ready to beat last year's Mt Hamilton time. Ferrell, on the other hand, was sneezing, coughing, and ejecting lots of yuckky stuff after battling a bug for the past week. He swore he was feeling better, and so the night before the event, he called and we were back "on".

I started early, as this finale was a mass start time trial yet we had to get off the mountain and get to our respective turkey's ASAP and so we tried to time it so we arrived at the top roughly together. That meant that I needed a half hour head start, and so after parking a mile below the start, I just got on the bike and went for it, while Rick went through the official check in etc.

Ferrel's not at his best, but zipping up for warmth to ward off more sniffles

I'm feeling good, and ready to take off for the mile ride up to the sign-in

A fine, beautiful bike... Ferrel's isn't bad either.

The sign-in table

Above the haze, the skies were beautiful

The classic domes of Lick Observatory just a few miles away now.

Ferrell catches me, a mile or so from the top. Luckily didn't have to clear his respiratory passages etc. as he passed. Yikes!

Gorgeous oaks in fall colors. My fall color was beet red at this point in the climb.


I'm still feeling pretty good, keeping up a good pace

Just a few more turns now. That's the 36" Crossley scope on the left, and the 120" Shane on the right.

Just before the dining hall and right turn to the 36" scope and finish line

Final push


Ferrell forces a grim smile between coughs

A few takes later, he's pulled himself together, and we've got the right backdrop too.

Plenty of quick calories for the finishers

An eternal astronomical mystery - why does the smallest telescope on the mountain have the biggest dome?


A fast, fun ride down the mountain. Repack the bikes. Now, it's time for protein - off to Subway, and then to family and friends for mass quantities of turkey

Ferrell did a fast 1hr 40m, a little slower than last year due to the bug. I did 2:18:30. Great morning start to a great Thanksgiving 2013.