Saturday, August 2nd, 2008

Road Riding: My Collection of Hill Climbs

Following are a few hill climbs that I, or Erik, have personally ridden and have data for. I use a Garmin Edge 305. For distance and elevation measurement, the accuracy depends on the GPS system, the terrane (tree coverage), and the weather (cloud coverage). So, for the exact same hill climb, sometimes the data vary. I didn’t cross-check all my data for every climb, which would just take too much time. Also, I have been using to store some of my rides. It does some kind of “correction” to correct GPS inaccuracies (in both distance and elevation). However, recently, I found that for one particular ride, the correction noticeably exaggerated the elevation gain (e.g. 9189′ vs. 7354′ as recorded by Garmin). And its supposedly cool MB Gravity elevation correction goes even further in that direction. So, I decide to stick to my GPS measurement for my data presentation (unless otherwise noted). As I do more riding, I will keep updating this log. Please feel free to leave me a note if you have any questions or comments about any of the rides. One last note: my comments about traffic are mostly from my weekend riding experience.

There are some good references online for many, if not all, of these climbs. For example,

Alpine West

  • Start: A small bridge (right above the bridge is a brown sign that reads “…. Grove”)
  • End: Skyline (Hwy 35)
  • Distance: 6.65 miles
  • Elevation: 1883′ (ascent) / 180′ (descent)
  • My recorded best time: 45:37 (03/09/2008) -> 41:18 (08/02/2008)
  • Erik’s recorded best time: 44:10 (03/09/2008) -> 41:15(08/02/2008)
  • My comments: A nice climb. 70% in the shade. A first timer might be fooled by a couple of false summits only to find that there is more climbing to do around the bend. On the way up, you will get to a stop sign, where you turn left. There is a short descent before the climb to the top. And there is another descent after the summit before the road ends at Skyline. On the other side of Skyline is Page Mill Road. Traffic is very light on this road. Descending on this road is pretty pumpy in the forearms because of its fast descent and many blind turns in the upper half.
  • Web references: [2]

Old La Honda (OLH)

  • Start: The concrete bridge shortly after you turn on to the road.
  • End: Stop sign (Skyline — Hwy 35)
  • Distance: 3.21 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1285′ (ascent) / 15′ (descent)
  • My recorded best time: 25:46 (03/09/2008 after Alpine West) -> 23:24 (08/02/2008 aAW) -> 22:59 (01/11/2009 aAW)->22:14 (05/20/09)->21:50(05/27/09)
  • Erik’s recorded best time: 25:24 (03/09/2008 after Alpine West) -> 23:21 (08/02/2008 aAW) -> 22:51 (01/03/2009 aAW)->22:30(05/20/09)->20:58(/05/27/09)
  • My comments: Almost my favorite hill climb. 94% in the shade. Not too steep but sustained. Some sections of the road are a little bumpy. Traffic is light, but because much of the road is so narrow that it gets a little annoying (to both parties) when a car needs to pass a cyclist. I heard somewhere that it’s bad form to descend Old La Honda on weekends. I’ve never descended this road. Not sure how it is coming down.
  • Web references: FelixWong’s blog , [1] , [2]

Page Mill

  • Start: Moon Road (I need to double check. It’s the entrance to the Palo Alto Open Space.)
  • End: Stop sign (Skyline – Hwy 35)
  • Distance: 7.48 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 2075′ (ascent) / 190′ (descent)
  • My recorded best time: 54:01 (03/09/2008 after Alpine West and OLH)
  • Erik’s recorded best time: 51:15 (03/09/2008 after Alpine West and OLH)
  • My comments: So far, I’ve always done this climb after at least two other big climbs, so it always feels hard on this road. But it does offer a couple of short descents for you to rest your legs and catch up with breadths. In my impression, this road is 30% in the shade. There are two short steep sections one around half way and one near the top, but they are so short that you are over them very fast. So far I haven’t experienced heavy traffic on this road. For the most part, the road is wide enough that cars can easily pass.
  • Web references: [2]

Pescadero (East side)

  • Start: The turn off from Alpine
  • End: The summit (the obvious point where you cannot go up any more)
  • Distance: 1.64 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 603′ (ascent) / 8′ (descent)
  • My recorded best time: 14:39 (03/09/2008, but this can’t be the best because this was after three big climbs, but this is the only record I could find)
  • Erik’s recorded best time: 13:31 (same as above)
  • My comments: The road surface on this one is superior. But for the same reason, motorcyclists love this road. It’s common to run into strings of motorcycles on weekends. Some of them go a bit too fast. All you can do is hope that they know what they are doing. 90% in the shade. It used to feel like a big hill until recently.
  • Web references: [2]

Sierra Road

  • Start: Sierra Road & Onslow Way
  • End: The summit
  • Distance: 3.70
  • Elevation Gain: 1832′ (ascent)
  • My recorded best time: (32:15.50 02/16/2008 Webcor King of Mountain Ride) -> 30:44 (12/28/2008)
  • Erik’s recorded best time: 30:35 (12/28/2008)
  • My comments: I love this climb. It’s beautiful. Okay, I live in an area where there are many beautiful climbs, but I guess the openness of this one appeals to me. I found myself looking around on the brutal uphill taking in the peaceful views of the rolling hills and the bay area down below. I haven’t done this one in the summer yet, but I’m guessing it will be very character-building since it’s pretty much 95% in the sun. I’ve found it work out really well for us to park near Calaveras and Piedmont (there are a couple of churches there) and ride over (about 3 miles of flats) to the start as a warm up. And then just drop down Calaveras to make it a 15 mile loop.
  • Web references: My first time, my second time, [2]

To be continued…


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  • My recorded best time:
  • Erik’s recorded best time:
  • My comments:
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