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Mt. Hamilton   June 2, 2002

       

The Mt. Hamilton Observatory gets closer and closer

       

We love all of the switchback roads that carry us to the top

       

Mt. Hamilton Observatory  and the view

   

 

Mt. Hamilton   April 18, 2004

           

We only took pictures today on Quimby Road. The rain moved in too quickly.

 

Mt. Hamilton   August 16, 2005

           

A little fog in the valley but nice here on the mountain

           

The road up the west side is always spectacular

           

Hawks fly above the observatory

           

This was my first trip to the desert side

           

102 degrees fahrenheit - a little hotter than expected today

   

 

Mt. Hamilton   November 23, 2006

       

These photos of Mt. Hamilton were taken by Sheri Greenspan

   

They were taken on Thanksgiving Day for the Low-Key Hillclimb series

       

 

Mt. Hamilton   November 27, 2008

Judith rides and Fred races up Mount Hamilton to the Lick Observatory

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            Foggy Day               

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      Registration      

Above - Registration from 8:00 A.M. to 9:35 A.M. There were a few more racers than expected

Above- The starting lineup went around the corner and down another hundred people to me.

  Bill Bushnell takes off 

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      Tracy Colwell leads    

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      The women blazed     

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   Riding up the mountain 

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    At 3000' cloud level  

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          The Observatory         

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    At the top, looking out  

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Fog up to the 3000'level

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Okay, we know these pictures all look the same, but it was so beautiful up there.

        Mt Hamilton Road       

Above  -  The upper road disappears down into the fog.

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                 Fog wisp                

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              The road up           

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            Artsy shot             

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         Artsy shot too         

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             Pine frame              

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  Racers trading stories 

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   Enjoying the 360 view 

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Below - Fred arrives - where's the crowd?

     Official finish photo    

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       Fred at the finish     

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          Fred at the top       

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             Nice view            

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   Fred & Judith on top   

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Below  -  One more photo  -  from the other side of the observatory

                                                  

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Below  -  And finally, a panoramic photo of the vista

The Action

Despite overcast skies, an impressive Low-Key hoard of over 130 gathered on this Thanksgiving morning at the base of Mount Hamilton Road. Gazing upward, we knew we'd be climbing into these same clouds, adding to the surrealism at the start of a climb. The calm before the pain.

Many of the usual suspects from last year were present. Coordinator and Low-Key founder Kevin Winterfield pointed out Tracy Colwell, Tim Clark, and Clark Foy as the three to watch. Then he got into his car, started the engine, and honked the horn.

The final, and by far the longest, climb of the 2008 Low-Key hillclimb series had begun!

After a brief sorting out, a lead group formed, and then things solidified into a tactical equilibrium. Nobody was willing to fully commit themselves this early in a climb which places a premium on endurance and pacing. The gradual slope of Mount Hamilton's western face provided an exceptional benefit to sitting on wheels. The result was a substantial group arriving together at Grant Ranch, 1500 vertical feet in the bag.

But in addition to its duration, the second differentiating factor of Hamilton is its descents. It was on this first one, with roads damp and debris-strewn from yesterday's rain, that some of us found our caution got the better of us.  Some more confident riders were able to close gaps which had opened ahead of them on the preceding uphill.

As soon as the second climb began, last year's first place winner to Hamilton's summit, Low-Key legend Tracy Colwell, set his signature hard tempo. This shed some of the pretenders from the lead group, but wasn't enough for Tracy to get away cleanly. Most surprising, perhaps, was series leader Tim Clark's inability to follow the pace. Tim was on an off-week, perhaps suffering as well from a lack of endurance training from the relatively short climbs on this year's schedule. This second climb is the shortest of Hamilton's three, gaining only around 800 vertical feet. Soon enough, the second descent arrived.

As the leaders passed the bridge at the bottom, the bridge which normally offers the first view of the observatory on the summit a shocking 6.6 miles and 2060 vertical feet later, instead a look upward revealed only the mist into which we had ascended. So it began, two solid climbs in the bag today, and remaining was what would still, alone, have ranked as the longest climb in the 2008 series, just exceeding West Alpine and Quimby Road in vertical feet.

As riders here pushed beyond the comfort threshold, caught in the now of this long effort, the mist first brightened, then disappeared, revealing sunshine and blue skies. We had emerged from the clouds, climbing into the sky. Yet the pain continued, as we pushed on, awash in the day, rising above the limits of the sleepy valley in which we had begun.

Finally, the summit.... For volunteers, a chance to witness a great finish between between Tracy Colwell and an exceptional Clark Foy. Tracy took it, finishing 7 seconds ahead. Tim Clark finished a few minutes later, still holding on to his 2008 series lead. Later Sister's of No Mercy's Janet Martinez arrived ahead of Lucia Mokres, but not by enough to take the overall from Lucia. And San Jose Bike Club, with the extraordinary performances from Clark, Greg McQuad, and 15-16 Junior Yuma Koishi, took the top team points on the day to nail down the series overall win ahead of the second place Sisters. With his strong result, Yuma also took the overall W in the junior category, passing previous leader Lulu Kelly, who remained the top female junior. Lulu has 17 years of remaining eligibility, so look for her in the future!

The top prize today: the absolutely incredible panoramic view of the cloudscape below, slowly dissipating to reveal the valley impossibly far below. Can there possibly be a better way to spend a Thanksgiving morning?

climb 1: 5.90 mi,  1514 ft
climb 2: 3.20 mi ,  770 ft
climb 3: 6.60 mi, 2060 ft
total: 18.4 miles, 4343 ft

Mt. Hamilton   November 26, 2009