Mt. Diablo New Year's Day Ride to the Top

Saturday, January 1, 2011 - 7:00am to 6:00pm

Save Mt. Diablo Ride logoJoin hundreds of members of the Bicycle Coalition and our affiliated bicycle clubs for a ride up to the top of Mt. Diablo. It’s one heck of the way to kick off the New Year, and to work off the prior night’s craziness.

This is not a specific organized ride. Many groups take off from different locations, and at different times, and simply enjoy the company of friends and companions on their way up.

Robert Raburn’s post on his 2009 trip up Diablo on New Year’s captures the spirit and fun of the day’s adventure:

Sometimes you can’t chase a song from your mind while riding. This can be a curse when “It’s a Small World” from Disneyland hijacks your music memory. Fortunately my New Year began with Jack Johnson’s song Good People playing on the clock radio. Appropriate.

The winter tule fog blanketed the San Ramon valley on the approach to South Gate. It probably kept some good people from joining a tremendous day on the mountain. Others were likely battling demons from New Year’s Eve celebrations. Many groggy non-bicyclists on the BART ride from Oakland to Walnut Creek were clearly suffering from over-exuberance.

The traditional New Year’s Day ride up Mt Diablo offers plenty of opportunities for camaraderie–during the climb, at the Junction Ranger Station and summit, and afterwards at the Mexican restaurant on Locust Street. Memorable climbs up South Gate have always involved swapping stories with others. This year, the Sierra Club’s Kent Lewandowski initiated a lengthy discussion of drinks and South American travels with his mention of Pisco Sours as we rose though the fog with Sean from San Francisco.

Another climatic phenomenon, temperature inversion, played a role in rewarding all the good people. Above the cold, foggy layer, the air is typically warm, dry and clear. A crowd of bicyclists from throughout the Bay Area were resting, chatting, and just digging the sunshine at the Junction. Robert Cray’s chorus “I’m Digging It” from his song “All the Way” supplanted “Good People” for the remainder of my ride.

I lingered way too long at the Junction. Everyone wearing a Grizzly Peak Cyclist jersey received my personal appreciation for their generous year-end contribution to EBBC. My wife Pat and our friend Maria Massolo continued upward. Likewise, Kent and BART’s Sarah Syed left me behind as I chatted with Mitch from the Oakland Yellowjackets, Craig from Diablo Cyclists, Grant from Rivendell, and many others. I knew it was time to continue when I saw 70ish Dick Anderson, from Martinez, descending with a loaded trailer!

I was digging it when I encountered EBBC Treasurer Rick Rickard on the side of the road adjusting his own song selection on an I-Pod. Our two-wheeled conference to the summit covered EBBC’s year-end membership success (over 2100 members!) along with a variety of advocacy themes: repaving the unsafe private portion of Mt Diablo Scenic Drive above Athenium School, unsafe passing by motorists, and visions of implementing Bicycle Sunday in Mt Diablo State Park.

It was 62 degrees Fahrenheit at the top! Only the peaks could be seen above a solid layer of fog. The social atmosphere was one of celebration. Riders outnumbered motorists by a factor 10 or more. Bike culture was on display! Jerseys hailed from through the Bay Area. A few helmets were decorated with party hats. Randonneur Zack Kaplan and Michi rode a recumbent tandem (one of two seen). Another bent was equipped with a fairing. The Pink Lady handed out homemade brownies (her pink panniers are not loaded with Styrofoam!). New participants in the New Year tradition for Bay Area bicyclists were welcomed by advanced riders. Young and old reminded all that there is no “typical bicyclist.” We are everybody.

Best wishes to everyone in 2009. May the tradition grow!

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