Mount Diablo, the 2nd
tallest paved Bay Area hill climb
10.9 miles, about 3500 feet of climbing...this is the real
thing! Mount Diablo is eclipsed only by Mount Hamilton in total
height, but, unlike Mount Hamilton, there are no downhill sections as you
head towards the top. Also, the average grade is steeper than Mount
Hamilton, and that killer section at the very end is a religious
experience! Brian Krause, from our Redwood City store, did this ride
with me on Sunday morning, March 18th, 2001. Amazingly, in my 33
years of cycling in the SF Bay Area, this was my first time ever up Mount
9:15am 10 minutes into the
ride, and we've been climbing for...about 9 minutes! We started
the ride at Blackhawk & Mount Diablo Scenic Blvd, about five
minutes from 680 in Danville.
9:23am At this point, the road
is still called Mount Diablo Scenic Blvd. Don't know if too
many Boulevards have 20mph speed limits, but we're in no position
to challenge it.
9:34am Very pretty road, very
little traffic, although I suspect this changes in the summer!
9:42am The speed limit has
dropped to 15mph for this section of road, but it's still not in
9:45am Brian approaches the
Northgate/Southgate instersection & ranger station. The
The grade increases from here on, but
the views improve as well.
9:49am In the background you
can see San Ramon below, and the Peninsula hills in the
A scene not unlike Mount Hamilton,
with the peak visible in the distance.
9:50 For a brief
period the grade levels off a bit on one of the many switchbacks.
10:11 At this point the top is
looking very, very close at hand. Of course that's a lie!
10:20 Rounding one of the last
curves before the final section, about to overtake another
told us it was steep, but they didn't tell us is was a cow
path!!! I wasn't able to take more photos while riding up
the hill, as the grade went to well over 10% for a hundred meters
or so. Before heading down I took the photo on the right,
where you can see the road drop out of sight.
Are the views from the
top worthwhile? Sure, once your heart stops pounding enough
so that your eyes are no longer bouncing around in your
head. The problem is that you climb that super-nasty
section, and then... stop! There's no place to go, you're at
the end of the line, only your heart and lungs are still midway up
that last steep pitch.
On the way back down we
stop at the Northgate/ Southgate ranger station, which has been
overtaken by Team in Training (Leukemia Society) riders.
We also spotted Amy Abele on the way
down, whom we proclaimed Goddess of Mount Diablo. She
asked "You aren't taking a picture of me, are
you???" Little did she know it was going to end up on a
A VERY SPECIAL PROPOSAL
In February 2002, Eric Bain
and Kathy Fong became engaged at the top of Mt. Diablo.Ostensibly a regular ride up the mountain, Eric had gone
up a couple days ahead of time and hidden a bottle of Champagne at
top. Here's our correspondence-
Eric: Wow, what a
place to propose! I recognized it instantly. Way cool. Even a
Chain Reaction water bottle on the right-hand side of the photo.
You're off to a great start. --Mike--
Mike, Good eye, picking out that water bottle! If you liked
that photo, check out the one I've attached. I hid the champagne and
glasses in the snow a couple days ahead of time, so we could start
the celebration right away. I doubt it will catch on as an
electrolyte replacement drink though. Eric
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