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I started off pretty early, near 8 AM, in the car. I drove up to San Ramon, and parked at Diablo Vista Park. I started riding at about a quarter after 9. The race was coming up from San Jose, through Livermore, and eventually would come up Diablo via Blackhawk and South Gate. I would be doing only the last little bit of that, of course.
The Mt Diablo climb, from the south, can be divided into three parts: Mt Diablo Scenic Boulevard, South Gate Road, and the Summit Road. The Scenic Boulevard climbs unevenly through a neighborhood, with an average grade of about 5 or 6%. Apparently its pavement used to be a problem, but it was repaved for the race and was perfect.
|South Gate Road running along the ridge|
At about 2100 feet is the intersection of South Gate, North Gate and Summit roads. Since there's only one way up to the summit, the race passed through here, and didn't visit the summit. The KOM banners were already up, and folks were starting to take their places along the road. I continued up Summit Road.
Summit Road is also uneven, but still averaging 6 or 7%. Near the top the grade lessens, but then you hit the last few hundred meters that rise at perhaps 15%. Very painful, especially when there are hundreds of other riders about.
The climb as a whole is about 11 miles, averaging 5.5%.
|Looking west from Mount Diablo, toward Mount Tamalpais|
|Spectators at the KOM site on Mount Diablo|
|Sébastian Salas capturing top KOM points|
A four-man break passed through with a nine minute gap, then the whole of the peloton. No one was straggling, so the end-of-caravan SUV passed through just a couple of minutes after the riders.
I went down the same way I came up, among dozens of other riders. That was something of a new experience for me, but I was reasonably comfortable with it by the time I got down to the bottom.
Along the way I thought for a moment that I was in the presence of a legend. An old guy in front of me was riding a tall yellow steel bike with downtube shifters. Could it be Jobst Brandt, healthy and riding again? As I followed, concentrating on this guy more than the road, discrepancies accumulated. He was wearing a helmet. He had water bottles, in cages. The bike (and its rider) was tall, but not freaky tall. I pulled up beside him, and at a glance he didn't look the pictures. Still, it was a nice thought. Maybe someday I'll get to meet him.
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