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.
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.
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.
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.
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.