San Franciso (the Bay Area as it is sometimes referred to), specifically San Jose, which is an hour south of the city, offers plentiful areas in which to do an epic bike ride. One of those rides that I did a couple times while I lived there was Mt. Hamilton, a 19-mile ride that ascends to over 4,000 feet to the Lick Observatory.
With an average grade of 6.5%, this is definitely a challenging climb. Mostly, it’s the steady grade and the altitude that gets you. And unless you are a strong climber, you’ll definitely feel the grade eating into your legs by the time you are even halfway up as you struggle to not pedal squares. It’s no wonder this climb’s used in the Tour of California. I think even the pros face some difficulty with it.
The rewards, however, are many. The one image that sticks in my mind still after doing this ride is seeing cows grazing away on grass as your ride by. So, I guess people do have farms up there on the mountain. The other thing is the view of San Jose as you get towards the top. Other points worth mentioning are that this road doesn’t get a lot of traffic and is in good condition.
Once at the top and you reach Lick Observatory, the descent is long but fast but mostly straight without many turns as you speed to the bottom of the climb. Overall, Mt. Hamilton is just one of the many dynamic climbs in the bay area, but it is definitely worth the time and effort. And after that, with almost 40 miles in your legs, you can head home with the knowledge you’ve done a good workout.