In honor of the upcoming Tour of California this is my report from the stage I saw go by last year.
Wed May 19th. HA! Did Mines on my own. :) According to common bike club wisdom, one shouldn't do Mines without at least a couple of companions or, better still, a sag vehicle. Doing it on my own was fun. I have ridden alone in more remote areas and, in reality, Mines Rd is full of people riding motorcycles, who in a pinch can be of some use.
The Tour of California for Wednesday was: San Jose, Sierra Rd, Calavaras, Sunol, Livermore, Mines Road, Del Puerto Rd, Patterson, and Modesto. I decided to take the BART train to Dublin/Pleasanton, ride out Mines Road to the Junction Bar and Grill, eat lunch, watch the race go buzzing by, climb Hamilton and then finally ride through Freemont to the train station and take BART back home. In the end, I did not climb Hamilton, but instead did an out and back on Mines, which is about an 81 mile round trip from BART.
I was somewhat disappointed to not do Hamilton. Climbing Hamilton is so much more impressive than just doing Mines and you get to be on top of the world up there. However, the sky decided to rain on me and I feared worse weather on the mountain, since higher elevations often have worse rain, wind and cold. Further, I wasn't all that keen on descending Hamilton in the cold and rain. I hadn't brought a rain jacket, despite the slight chance (20%) of rain, because we have already taken off my fenders and I am of the belief that the removal of fenders prevents further rain for the season.
Mines was gorgeous. Flowers, hills, green grass, bushes, trees, birds, etc, etc. Really, we all have been to places like that. Pretty pretty pretty and it never gets old.
I used to hate Mines Road. The long slight grade for 25 miles out to the Junction was demoralizing and hot. On and on, that road goes, every so slightly climbing the entire way. The return is oddly worse. The climb out of the junction is steep and longer than it seems.
I now love Mines, for I have learned the secret to Mines Rd: Don't do Del Puerto or Hamilton before climbing back out of the Junction. ah. I have never just done Mines before, I have always done it on conjunction with Hamilton or Del Puerto, which is second only to Jamison in my book for annoying climbs. (My book, by the way does not include Sierra Rd.)
The climb out of the Junction is fine if you are not already completely exhausted and you haven't stuffed yourself with a hamburger from the Junction Bar and Grill. I liked Mines road. The climbs are fine.