Thursday, August 7, 2008

Wednesday Nights on Mt. Diablo

Before joining the Diablo Cyclists, Mt. Diablo was a twice a year awe filled ride. A little over 11 miles, with the summit at 3,849' (you start from North Gate in Walnut Creek at 307', or South Gate, in Danville, the "easy way," about a mile closer at 669'.) Going up North Gate and (after the Junction) Summit Road the grade is about 6%, with nothing steep except for 1/4 mile by the 1000' sign, and the last 500' is 17%.

What was worse than climbing during my twice a year weekend-holiday sojourners was coming down--on the weekend a steady stream of cars usually are coming up the narrow, twisted roads, and many coming down with some trying to pass cyclists on hairpins. But once a Diablo Cyclist, I started riding up North Gate after work on Wednesdays where cars are far and few between. It is like being on a bike trail.

I usually ride up easy on Tuesday's (I'm a cold wuzz, and will only go to the summit if over 83 degrees--if under 83 degrees, I'll go half way to the Junction and then ride down the South Side and go back up.) On Wednesday's we have a Diablo Cyclist ride to the Junction, then some of us go right up to the summit or down the South Side and do some paceline work on the flatlands.

Before July the mountain is crowded with cyclists, racers doing intervals getting ready for the time trial to the Junction, or Death Rider trainees going up the whole thing a few times at a more moderate pace. Now it is August and the Mountain is quiet--on Tuesday I got to the Junction and no one was around.

Here are two good photos by Diablo Scott, a guy who rides Diablo every Saturday and Wednesday, and notices lots of little things on the mountain that get by almost everyone else. The first is of the Junction, filled mostly with Diablo Cyclists, before we decide whether to head up or back down. The other is a great shot of "the ramp" right before the summit--where you can feel the 17% from the photo. (Big Mike, Ward and I egg each other on so we have to do it at least twice.)

(Top) Diablo Cyclists regrouping at the Junction on our Wednesday night, which is where North and South Gate Road meet. Only one road, Summit Road, contines to the top, which gets a little steeper and about 10 degrees cooler. (Side) The final 500' at 17%. Photos taken by Diablo Scott, click on his name to check out his bike blog.

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