Do-it-yourself training ride: Quarry Hills
In discussions with a couple of riders, I've been asked about the best places to get some quick hill training in the Mountain View area. Here is a 15-mile ride that I use for exactly that purpose; it's got about 1,250 feet of climbing, with nearly all of it concentrated in the middle 8 miles of the route.
With all of the hills around here, why do I like this route? It's close to home (and to our usual Mountain View meeting point, which is where I officially start this ride), it's got an easy 3-mile warm-up and cool-down, the hills are challenging but not impossible, and there are a few places where I can bail out if I run short of time or get tired. It's also mildly scenic, especially the first time you do it; if you've never seen the Quarry Lake area, you're in for quite a surprise -- and I won't spoil it for you any more than that.
This is not an easy ride -- at least for me it's not. I did this ride today, and my average speed on the ride was a full 3 mph less than my usual pace these days. Many of the descents on this ride are especially narrow, winding, and steep, and extreme caution is advised.
If you're a novice rider, you probably shouldn't do this ride by yourself the first time you attempt it. But whether you're a newbie or an experienced rider, it's entirely possible that you'll get lost in the maze of tough-to-find turns and winding roads. But don't panic -- if you get lost, just head generally downhill, and you'll eventually make your way to Foothill Expressway, from which you can find your way back.
I've even gone to the trouble of making you a turn-by-turn route sheet in handy ALC-like format. Here it is.