Saturday was set to be my longest ride so far this year. With a goal of 68 miles and 6K of climbing, it would have been a pretty good push and a great primer 3 weeks prior to the Solvang Century.
The goal, set by my buddy Jack was to go up Mt Diablo via the South Gate to the summit, then come down via the North Gate to Walnut Creek, go up and over Ygnacio Valley Rd to Clayton, out through Morgan Territory and then back around to the starting point.
Well, it turns out that due to time and scheduling issues we didn’t get the full distance or climbing in, but it was still a fantastic ride.
We started out in Danville at 8:00 and headed up the hill to Mt Diablo. After a couple weeks of rain and storms, we got a break and Saturday was shaping up to a beautiful day. Cool, but not cold and clear with amazing views all the way up the mountain. I have to say that this is one of the prettiest rides we do and if it wasn’t for the fact that it’s all uphill, I’d ride it a lot more frequently.
Evidently, I’m not alone in this sentiment as there were tons of riders heading up the hill. This guy was also out for a nice little stroll.
We had 8 riders a couple of whom would be making their first attempt at reaching the top of Diablo. This is actually a pretty impressive accomplishment as the mountain climbs about 3500ft in about 11 miles. It’s a long grind with an average grade of 5%, the last section, Summit Rd has an average grade of 7% with the very last section, the one way path, being 13%.
It took us about 2 hours to get to the top which I thought was pretty good. At least I thought that until I looked at the results of last years Diablo Challenge. The fastest guy up last year did it in 41 minutes!!!!
After regrouping at the top, where the evidence of the recent storms was displayed in piles of snow along the road, we headed down. This is probably one of the funnest (is that even a word?) descents in the bay area. It’s steep and fast and after last years upgrades, is in really good shape.
Heading out the North Gate Rd takes you in to Walnut Creek, where you eventually meet up with Ygnacio Valley Rd. This is a really busy road with a decent, but really littered, shoulder. Up and over the hill brings you to Clayton where we stopped for lunch.
It was at this point that we realized we weren’t going to be able to do the whole loop. I was a little ambitious in guessing our pace and Joanne actually believed me so didn’t make babysitter arrangements.
So, deciding that we weren’t doing Morgan Territory we jumped on Ygnacio Valley Rd back up and over the hill headed for the Iron Horse Trail to take us back to Danville.
The worst part is that Ygnacio Valley, once you get back to Walnut Creek has a really narrow shoulder and is really busy…..add to that the fact that it appears everyone in Walnut Creek drives a Tahoe, a Navigator or an Escalade and you have the makings of a very sketchy ride on a very narrow shoulder with lots of very large SUVs whizzing by….
I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to get on a multi use trail in my life.
Once you’re on the Iron Horse, it’s a pretty fast ride back to the edge of Walnut Creek where we jumped on to Danville Blvd. for a nice fast ride back to the starting point.
All in all a nice ride although I did hear a rumor that the only reason Jack picked out such a tough ride was that he figured it would get rained out...