Monday, October 3, 2011

Hicks Rd. to Mt Umunhum - Tackling the BIG hill with the SMALL bike (Mercier Nano Mini-Velo)...


As I've mentioned in previous posts, Hicks Rd. to Mt. Umunhum is one of the toughest climbs in the SF Bay Area. John Summerson touts this climb in "The Complete Guide to Climbing (By Bike) in California" as:
For all of California:

#7 Most Difficult Half Mile: 14.3% (mile 0.3-0.8)
#5 Most Difficult Mile: 13.9% (mile 0.1-1.1)

For the San Francisco Bay Area:

#1 Most Difficult Climb
#5 Steepest Climb (10.2%)
#5 Most Technical Descent
#4 Highest Elevation Attained Climb (2,846 ft)
#5 Greatest Length of >10% Grade Climb (1.6 miles)

So... what better bike to do it on but the mini-velo?!

Of course, this self inducing punishment was planned to test the limits of the mini-velo in terms of epic climbing, and to prove to the naysayers that the mini-velo can be used as a contender against a formidable hill. With two water bottles, two bars and my Garmin Forerunner 305, I stepped out the front door with an intent to go suffer.

Again, I did not feel any difference in speed, although my Garmin and my B.icycle app tells me I was 1MPH slower on my mini-velo, and that was probably due to the loss in rolling momentum on the smaller wheels. Also, this little bike is heavier than my road bike by about 3 lbs.

I am very happy with the re-gearing, because it did come in handy. When I hit "the Wall" on Hicks Rd, getting over the the 32t cog bailed me out as I started to gas on the last 1/4 of the ascent. Unlike my road bike, however, I did not have to stop to take any breaks; on occasion I will to get some water on the 700c bike. With the efficient granny gear, (39/32) I spun up without worry.

I felt strong when I hit the top to Hicks Rd., which is about 1500ft of elevation gain at 9 miles. After chilling out and taking the picture (below), I decided to continue on to the Mt Umunhum gate, and beyond.


I passed the gate and continued to climb beyond. Of course, as I went up things got very creepy and stories of the locals started to get in my head. I was way the hell up there and no one with with me - so I was totally exposed.

As I was going up, I went beyond the "no trespassing" sign, when I heard a gun shot.

I am an avid shooter and gun owner and know what that sounds like (not like the movies). It was at that point (around 2,900 ft. of elevation gain) I turned around. Could've been sport shooting or getting rid of a "varmint", but I was not interested in sticking around to find out.

Here is my total trip:

Hicks Rd. to Mt. Umunhum on the Mini-Velo by dionridesbikes at Garmin Connect

In all honesty, I was really starting to gas out on the long steep climbs which are a very different type of climb that I'm used to: short, fast and mashable. But to be fair, these "steep" climbs are REALLY steep!

The Mercier Nano Mini Velo is a better bike than I am a rider. It handled this test well beyond my expectations and there was very little lacking in the speed department. I do have to note that the small wheels did not enjoy the pot holes nor the bumpy descend, so I should've compensated with slightly deflating the tires when I started to head down (I have them at max, 100psi). I am happy that I did not go thinner than 20 X 1.50.

The next ultimate test will be a century on this bike.