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Quadrophenia #11: Bohlman-On Orbit celebration (5/24/2014)

Date: Saturday, May 24
Meet time: 9:30 a.m.
Ride-out time: 10:00 a.m.
Meeting place: Parking lot at Villa and Franklin streets, Mountain View (across from the Tied House) (map)
City: Mountain View
Rain policy: Rain cancels
Category: 2 - moderate pace (10-12 mph)
Terrain: 5 - one extremely steep climb
Miles: 34


It's time to celebrate the end of our Quadrophenia season! And because we're Quadrophenia, we're not just riding up the street to the next Starbucks and back, oh no. On today's Very Special Episode of Quadrophenia, we are going to conquer what is absolutely the toughest road climb in the entire South Bay!

The 4.4-mile Bohlman Road begins in Saratoga Village and wastes almost no time getting down to business. After just a quarter-mile, the grades already exceed 10% and stay that way for almost the entire first 1.75 miles of the climb. In fact, many sections are steeper than 12%, and some of the tight hairpin curves are a quad-crushing 23% to 24%!

But that's just the gentle warm-up. When we reach On Orbit Drive, we enter a whole new dimension of climbing (or, quite possibly, cross-training). On Orbit has several sections that average more than 18% with small pieces of 21% to 22%. But at 2.45 miles up the hill, just when you think you can't go another inch, there's an intermediate summit, and you get some brief relief with a steep downhill of as much as -16%.

All that does, though, is take you back to Bohlman Road for the remaining 1.8 miles of the climb. This part is considerably easier -- sure, there are bits and pieces of 13% to 15%, but there are also "flat" sections of only 8% or 9% ... and, shhhh, even a couple of short downhills.

Finally, at 4.4 miles up, we're at an elevation of 2,570 feet (just two feet shy of the Mt. Tam summit) and the end of the road. Dirt paths could take us down to Highway 17, but instead we'll turn around and descend the first part of Bohlman, skipping On Orbit. When we reach the lower end of On Orbit, though, we'll retrace a tiny part of our climb so that we can take an alternate way down the rest of the hill. The combination of Quickert, Kittridge, and Norton roads is narrow, twisty, and extremely steep, but it's also almost completely free of traffic as you take in the breathtaking vistas of the entire Santa Clara Valley. Feel free to stop for pictures on the way down -- in fact, it's highly recommended so that your wheel rims can cool down and your hands can get a break from the death-grip you'll likely be applying to your brakes.

And just like that, we're back in Saratoga Village, almost as if nothing happened. Celebrate your climb at our final rest stop of the season, and savor the last gentle 12 miles back to Mountain View. What a year!

Ride With GPS reports about 2,800 feet of climbing with its new 2014 calculations; most GPS devices should report about the same. Because of the extremely steep climbs and descents, your bike must be in excellent condition to do this ride. Also, we will not ride if it is raining or if Bohlman is wet or slippery.

This ride is Caltrain- and VTA-friendly. The first southbound train of the day leaves SF at 8:15 and arrives in Mountain View at 9:29. We're about four blocks from the station.

These rides are for experienced cyclists who know how to safely handle their bikes on climbs and descents.
Please RSVP even if you're not sure you're attending. We use the RSVPs to plan support (including free bagels!), and if the weather might cause problems, it's important that we be able to reach you. Also, join our Facebook group to get additional updates and scintillating conversation.

Click here to RSVP
RSVPs are requested but not required.