Five of my bike buddies and I forsaked the local Wednesday ride and got in our cars and drove 1 1/2 hours from Lincoln Ca to whatever town in the East San Francisco Bay contains Mount Diablo. I think I have seen posts here on BF50+ about riding up the hill before.
By leaving Lincoln at 6:00am we were able to be on our bikes by 8:00. The weather report was favorable. Lincoln has had several days of 100+ weather. We assumed we would be done with the 24 mile up and down before it got at all warm. In fact, the start was pretty cool. Fortunately, I had brought my ubiquitous orange windbreaker. In fact, it was foggy enough that the road was wet in spots from the moisture dripping from the trees that hung over the road.
After some steep bumps and very rough road, we broke out onto a beautifully paved surface that continued all the way to the top. The first 7 miles are pretty moderate. In fact, I had visions of doing the ride in my middle ring. Lots of 1-5% climbing, with the occassional double digit grade around a switchback, that did little but give us an excuse to stand on our pedals.
The riders are all part of our "Tweeners" group: 58-70, except for Sunny, who is the 30-something grand daughter of one of the riders, although he was not on this ride. We think it's pretty neat that Sunny likes riding with us, even when her "Granpa Dan" isn't with us.
At Mile 3.7 we enter the State Park. Traffic is extremely light, in fact, to this point I think the only vehicle we have seen is a State Park truck, the driver of whom, we eventually learn, is cleaning bathrooms.
To this point, the ride is quite nice. Our little troupe is chatting, the lead changes often and the weather is perfect.
We took a quick break at about 4.7 miles, but I'm not quite sure why. One of our riders (with the knee braces) may have needed it. I'm in the orange windbreaker.
Pretty soon, we break through the fog and find the sun, but the temperature is still quite nice.
It has warmed up enough however to force us to stop at Mile 7 and make wardrobe adjustments. This is also where the road changes. We have all been cruising along, mostly in our middle rings, enjoying the 3-5% climb, even some short downhills. According to the sign we are 4 1/2 miles from the top. That doesn't sound too bad. But the road now begins to get steeper. The 3% turns to 8-9%. Those 12% bumps around the switchbacks are how a pain. Sunny, who weighs about the same as her Trek, begins to set the pace. We begin to spread out. Before long, I'm pretty much alone, between the three in front and the two in back. Here's the veiw:
So, the climb has become a slog. I look at each turn, thinking/hoping there would be a respite around the corner. There never is. It is constant, except when it gets steeper. Now here's the cruel part. We have been climbing for the better part of two hours. We have climbed 3255 feet. It has begun to warm up. The last 150 yards are 16%!!!! And to make it worse, the road is one-way and so narrow, I couldn't zig zag up if I wanted to.
But I made it (two of us didn't). My plan to use my middle ring all the way up morphed to "I'll just use the equivalent of a compact double" to "I'll save one gear for the last part" to using my granny for the last 3 miles. But it felt good to make it. Here's a view from the top. It was still foggy enough out there, we couldn't see too far.
And here we are before heading down. That's me in the "lightning" jersey.
It took me 1 hour 55 minutes to get to the top and 32 minutes to get back down. The downhill is great. The only bummer is that Sunny, who doesn't like downhills and was last in line, crashed near the bottom. Neither she, or her bike, were hurt badly, but she was shaken a bit. Bob (our ride leader) and I doubled back about a mile to find her when she didn't show.
The round trip was only 24 miles. And once down to the bottom, I could have done some more easy riding, but we opted to head home via a great deli. Stats: 11.37 mile climb. 3365 feet of climbing. 3220 of elevatin gain. See how relentless it is? Average grade 5.8%.
We are now looking to do our own Death Ride, maybe more a "hurt" ride, by climbing Mt. Tam and Mt. Hamilton in the near future.