To Be Determined Journal

To Be Determined is a journal of cycling, adventure and photography, curated by a NYC-based cycling team known as TBD Racing or Team TBD. From criteriums to cyclocross to product reviews and travel diaries, it is all part of the TBD Journal.

Our Favorite Rides: Mount Umunuhm

A few years ago I was fortunate to spend a week in February cruising through some of the best rides I have done anywhere in the country. Old La Honda, Alpine, Tunitas Creek, Mount Madonna, Big Bear, Henry Coe, Mount Hamilton - it was a week of non-stop blue skies and spectacular riding (read the full Journal entry) that I thought covered most of the ‘must-do’ routes in the South Bay. Little did I know that there was a new addition that belongs on the ‘must ride’ list - one that was only recently opened to the public: Mount Umunuhm. And to top it off, I had the pleasure of riding it on one very special bicycle.

The long, uphill road to Henry Coe State Park. See the 2015’s  ‘Escape to NorCal’  for more about this climb.

The long, uphill road to Henry Coe State Park. See the 2015’s ‘Escape to NorCal’ for more about this climb.

Our route started in Morgan Hill before cutting through Rancho San Vicente - one of the many beautiful open spaces surrounding Morgan Hill that features multi-use trails. Shortly thereafter, as we hit Hicks Road, the incline pitched up, averaging 11% for the main block of climbing. I’m generally allergic to climbing, but thankfully my tour guide, Stewart Thompson from Specialized, was friendly and matched my slow pace. After thirty odd minutes of climbing including the flatter lower pitches, we hit Mount Umunuhm Road. Thirty minutes is normally more than enough climbing for my taste, but the back story on Umunuhm is that it is the former site of a cold war military base including a giant eight story radar tower known as the Cube. Historically the only access has been via a long hike. But just over a year ago a new road to the summit opened to the public, adding another five miles of climbing to reach the Cube, all of it on fresh pavement with limited vehicle traffic (we saw 2 cars during the upper portion of the climb). It was too good to pass up, so more climbing it was…

Taking a Venge and a Tarmac off-road, because why not?

Taking a Venge and a Tarmac off-road, because why not?

For the rest of the climb I was on the struggle bus - and put a foot down at least once. I’m just not built for ninety-ish minute climbs. But at the summit the view was absolutely incredible - stretching from Morgan Hill to the South, San Jose directly in front, and the ocean to the West. The climb may not have featured the redwoods of Mount Madonna, but given the view and the lack of traffic (way less than we encountered on Hamilton), it definitely goes on my list of favorite South Bay climbs. And the descent is a total ripper. Just keep in mind that there is no water at the summit so plan accordingly.


One fun bit about this particular ride? I was testing out some new product from the Castelli Spring Collection, specifically the Aero Race 6.0 Jersey and the Aero Race 4 Bibshort. I’ll be compiling a full review on both products for the Journal in the next few weeks, I am just waiting for a spell of warm weather that allows me to put some additional miles in while wearing this kit. But my first impressions were definitely positive. This was particularly true for the bibs where the multi-panel construction really pays off in terms of comfort and breathability (trust me, I was sweating quite a bit up Mount Umunuhm). And in a world where bibs are approaching the $300 price point and bikes are surpassing $10,000, the Aero Race jersey and bibshort seems like quite reasonable value for the price point. Once we have a bit better weather in NYC, I’ll be back with a full review.