Last time I made my way to the summit of Mt. Diablo was on two feet when I ran to the top on the last day of 2016. Today, I would racing to the to the top on two wheels, in my second Mt. Diablo Challenge, fourth Mt. Diablo race in the last two years.
Under new leadership, all registration and check-in was at Monte Vista high school. I woke early to start the ‘pre-race’ jitters before venturing around the block. It was cold, colder than I remembered last year. I’ll blame the temperature on my initial attempt to check in under my maiden name….quickly figuring out my error, I checked in and made my way to Athenian. It is always strange riding on Diablo Rd. Luckily I was ahead of the crowds and did not have to experience any cars the narrow, windy road.
Mom was leading the volunteers, so I got to visit a bit with her before, it is nice to be relaxed before ‘a race’. I was placed in wave #7. Congrats from wave 2 last year….I was going into the ‘race’ with no expectations so I put a finish time of 1 hour 20, 11 minutes slower than last year. Our wave was supposed to start at 8:30, so I was a bit shocked when we were called to line up at 8:15 and were off shortly after.
Very quickly I made it from the middle of the pack to the front five riders. By the time I reached the entrance gate I had already passed two riders in wave 6 and was in the front of my field. My Garmin told me I was on target for an 1:09 finish, same pace as last year but I knew this wasn’t going to stick, I was told there were 50mph winds near the top.
Right from the start, you climb. There is no warm-up or gradual incline, it is straight to the point. By the time I got to Kiosk I was solo. It was still cold and the wind was already making itself known. The mountain was exposed, there was no protection. I hung to the side of the mountain as I continued to Junction. We turned. Boom. The wind hit like a ton of bricks. The wind was unforgiving for the rest of the race. A mixture of side-winds and head-winds. Strong. The kind of wind where you fear you may tip over.
I quickly watched my Garmin count down….1:09 passed, 1:10. I knew it was more than 5 minutes to the top…..1:15, the wind was playing games. I knew no one would be hitting any PRs in this. I could hear the cheering, the bells, it was close. One last turn, out of the saddle. Three men ahead and I see the finish line. Out of the saddle, I own these short climbs. Quickly over the finish line, 1:20.
Amazing how much faster that was in comparison to running….
I quickly turned around and road down the opposite side to meet the crowd for us to be escorted down. We were all freezing, the winds were like nothing I’ve ever felt before. Even standing in place was hard. This left me a little nervous for the ride down. The follow car pulled out and we were on our way, quickly my group disappeared behind me as I stayed close behind the bumper of the follow car. I followed that car as close as I could (in retrospect, I think I made the driver really nervous because they problem had never had bikes follow them like this before – oops) but this helped with the wind and riding 64s, that was all I cared about.
It was the longests descent I’ve ever experienced on the mountain but I then made my way back to my parents house for a quick costume change before joining my parents back at Monte Vista for the rest of the festivities.
Always a great time on the mountain.