Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Hold on / Hold on to yourself / For this is gonna hurt like hell

Decided to go climbing on my bicycle today to clear my head. When you are huffing and puffing and turning purple trying to pedal up a mountain, issues that keep you awake in the lonely hours of the night seem to fade and flitter away, and the really important things in life seem to snap into perspective, namely, breathe, breathe, breathe; appreciate being alive; being out there. Just being.

This is one of my favorite climbs: ascending Black Mountain via Stevens Canyon Road / Stevens Canyon Trail / Indian Creek Trail, and then descending via Montebello Road. Stevens Canyon Road is located by Stevens Creek Reservoir, Cupertino.

A topographical map:

No pictures of of the paved section of Stevens Canyon Road at this point. All pictures are of the ascent through the singletrack, and up the fire road to the summit. This borrowed graph (of a rider who did the circuit in reverse) shows the profile of the climb up the 1st section of Black Mountain:

Next is the really fun part: climbing up loose gravel and dirt. Again, a borrowed graph that is in reverse of what I did: i.e. Stevens Canyon-Indian Creek-Montebello:

Some pictures.

The beginning part of Stevens Canyon Trail is heavily shaded, but occassionally opening into stunning glades:

Leaving the clearing behind... and back into the long shaded track through the forest. You actually have to take off your sunglasses or else you can't see where you are going. Useless Trivia #4587: Cycling into trees, even at the relatively slow speed of going uphill, is really neither pain-free nor funny.

Leaving behind the canopy... into blesséd sunshine

Ascending under the blue skies...

Almost there...

Are we there yet?

The summit of Black Mountain, elevation 2800 ft:

A path that seems to lead down to Silicon Valley in the distance, but I never explored:

The reward? Besides the view, there is the descent.
You can easily hit 65 mph (104 km/h) on some of the long straightways downhill. Check out the graph (reversed):

Retched (threw up) 3 times from overexertion climbing up Black Mountain on the bicycle today. It was fun: all of them were dry heaves. I.e. no mess (for you queasy types).

Also "ate shit" (i.e. crashed) 3 times today: 1 high-speed, 2 low speed. High-speed crash: on a descent, my front tire washed out, and the next thing I knew, I was instinctively tucking myself into a ball and rolling down the hill mountain, praying my (also) tumbling bicycle doesn't hit me. Embarassing low-speed crashes: twice on the ascent, due to exhaustion I chose the wrong line, got bogged down in deep, loose gravel, and my legs were too tired to clip out in time. Take it from me: Useless Trivia #4588: Chainrings slice into your calf/shin very easily, ergo if you have to fall, fall on your left. Your rear derrailleur will also thank you. (For those that are not bicycle mechanics, the rear derailleur is the thingmajig / whachamacallit that moves your bicycle chain from one gear to the next on the rear wheel).

Three times the charm, eh?

Useless Trivia #4589:
In 1998, the snow line actually dropped below 2000 ft. Check out this picture (taken by another rider) of the exact spot my bike was at (Black Mountain Peak):