Mt. Hamilton New Years SAG & Photo

BR - "My fingers feel like someone parked their car on them"

Mt. Hamilton New Years Day tradition

I didn't intend to miss our traditional New Years visit to Mt. Hamilton, even if I wasn't able to ride I wanted to start 2011 on top of the mountain. Pals Brendan and Tim ignored the sketchy forecast and rolled out just after 8 from the Safeway parking lot. Both have been putting in the miles. Tim just completed his Rapha Festive 500 km Challenge (along with son Rupert) and Brendan's been riding his mountain bike a bunch.

Mt. Hamilton New Years Day tradition Mt. Hamilton New Years Day tradition

Conditions got progressively worse the higher they climbed and though I hoped they'd punch out of the clouds near the summit it never happened. We hung out for 20 minutes at the top while they refueled and warmed up inside the Lick Observatory. Neither of them was looking forward to a very cold, slippery descent on highway 130. The road was as bad as I've seen it, with lots of potholes and shattered rock debris. I drove down ahead of them, heater blasting so that they could jump into the car at the bottom of the first 7 mile drop. When they appeared, Tim forgot the plan and rode right by. Brendan offered a humorous expletive as he passed, hands frozen.

Mt. Hamilton New Years Day tradition Mt. Hamilton New Years Day tradition

The boys pulled over at the top of the short climb that followed. Tim stamping his feet to get some feeling back into them, Brendan sitting in the open car with his hands over the front heat vents to bring them back to life.

Mt. Hamilton New Years Day tradition

After a few minutes they set out again with me tailing them at a safe distance. Even though they kept the speed down, Tim's back wheel began to slip out from under him setting up for a right hander. He corrected but couldn't stop the bike heading into the ditch and pitching him over the bars into the rocky hillside. He was getting back on his feet as I got to him, indicating he was OK. I couldn't safely stop there so I rounded the corner and found a safe place to park 50 metres further down. I jogged back up to see how he and the bike were doing. Brendan soon joined us having heard me hit the horn a few times as Tim went down.

Muddied but not bloodied, Tim's Giro Ionos had two nasty dings from sharp rocks on the hillside. Had he not been wearing the lid, no doubt we'd be taking him to get stitched up at an emergency. After a thorough inspection, rider and bike were pronounced fit to continue.

Mt. Hamilton New Years Day tradition

From that point the ride was uneventful. The boys coasted down the last few miles of good pavement chatting. I shot a few more frames and 2011's first ride (for Tim and Brendan) was in the books. Thanks for keeping the tradition alive guys. I missed the riding but not the frozen feet. Next year I hope to leave the cameras at home.

12 Responses to Mt. Hamilton New Years SAG & Photo

  1. SuperFred says:

    Beautiful photos… and I thought I was flahute for taking out the garbage this morning.

  2. Tim Cox says:

    Love those pics, Michael! So glad you came along to provide moral support – it makes a big difference when you know there’s a SAG wagon around – just in case. Looking at the dings in my helmet this morning, I think it would have been a case of fractured noggin. Anyway, lots of grins on this caper and I’m looking forward to the next Hamilton High-Five.

  3. Tim Cox says:

    Oh – if anyone’s interested, our pix from the Rapha Festive 500 are here:

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  5. BR says:

    Michael – Thanks for the SAG, the heater and the great photographs. I did apologize to Tim for the tirade as we passed the warm car 1/2 way down but he was right – the upcoming climb was going to reheat us and it did. I don’t recall cursing the road out loud before on a ride and I don’t recall not feeling the handlebars in my hands either. The Rapha neck warmer is my new best friend. Tim, thanks for the chat and the support up the climb. The jet-tub, the cassoulet and the Syrah were my reward later in the day.

    We’ll regroup very soon for a more civilized ride at sea level, that hopefully includes coffee and temps above 39 degrees. Get that Enigma dusted off.

  6. kurt says:

    Nice to see that traditions are being kept in check. Maybe next year I will make the trip to join you boys just for fun.

    Contratulations to Tim on completing the Festive 500. I completed it as well and my fitness is the better for it. My regular crew felt the the affect of the 500 whilst trying to keep my pace on Sunday’s ride.

    Brendan, now that you have found love for the neck warmer… it is time to cover up the chrome with some booties.

    A friendly reminder to Tim to replace the crashed helmet, once crashed it must be trashed.

    Happy new Year and Ride on.

  7. BR says:

    Hey kurt – We always have room for another wheel to chase so make that trip anytime. You can pull the pace and we will review your pedaling style and bike position while in your draft.

    Chrome shoes? Tim is the quintessential Englishman so he did tactfully mention that I might look into some Rapha shoe covers – HEY! Those shoes were the only bright spot on the road! Could have saved our lives if an airlift was needed.

    The Festive 500 completely evaded me but I would have certainly joined the fun had I known it was happening. My cycling clothing acquisitions are limited to garage sales and shop lifting these days so I have not been to in a while. I got the hint…

    Happy New Year!

  8. Tim Cox says:

    @Kurt – good advice re. the helmet. It will be ceremoniously retired.
    @Brendan – I have been operating under the assumption that your shoes contain an emergency transponder beacon. This is one reason I like to ride with you.

  9. Michael it’s good to hear that Tim is OK must have been quite a scare for you all,good equipment always works.
    The traditions old or new are a greatway to start the New Year, All the very best to all three of you. Maybe next year you’ll be out in the cold too. Your description in the header of how your fingers felt (or not) is very apt and one I’m well familiar with, I use handlebar tape on my tripod legs so that carrying it is less painful in the frigid Scottish climate.
    Take care out there and lets hope the back allows some pedal turning soon. Another good read.


  10. Dave Wyman says:

    This is a ride I’d love to do. In fact, I’m going to, later this month. Coming from Los Angeles, though, and without a support vehicle, I’ll require some sun, and temps in the high 60s. I feel cold just looking at the ethereal photos here; the make me want to put Mahler’s “The Planets.” The road looks a lot narrower than I remember from negotiating it with my car a few times.

    My own Festive 500 pics, from my last day’s ride, are here:

    • Congrats on the festive 500 success. You’re right about that crystal clear shot from the mountains overlooking Glendale. Let us know when you are going to be up here, maybe Brendan and I can meet you for dinner.


      • BR says:

        Dave W – I spent a few minutes on your BLOG and I just wanted to say three things.

        1 – You are not crazy despite whatever folks (non cyclists) around you probably proclaim. I can appreciate the drive to remount a bicycle regardless of the risks and advice.

        2 – I would be honored to ride up Hamilton with you if schedules permit this.

        3 – You DO have a RoadID? Right ;-)