Technically we didn’t because neither of our ride leaders remembered to bring a club waiver. So, the six of us were just “friends out for a ride together.” Besides David Sexton and Gordon Dinsdale, the ride hosts, our group comprised of me, Nancy Levin, Bill Holt, and Steven Shirreffs. Atypically we did not linger at the start in traditional DSSF style mainly because David was concerned we’d be frozen waiting for the perpetually tardy and those of us who need time to adjust our make-up. Within minutes of the BART train arriving we were off.
Previous New Years Days on Mt. Diablo have brought us everything from snow, hellish rain (no one rode that year), polar vortices, and balmy warm days. This year we avoided rain but it was fairly cold by Norcal standards, i.e. it was in the forties! Ugly overcast skies slowly turned to sunshine, however Diablo’s summit was immersed in clouds for much of the first half of the day. Unlike some years no one was rushing to get to the top. In fact it was a regular chatfest all the way up. Nancy and I got to check in after not seeing each other in months. Since I last saw her she’s undergone a bike change and is now sporting a beautiful blue Waterford with giganto 32mm tires, after which I lusted. We reached the Junction gruppo compatto with nary a misplaced eyelash. Perhaps it was because of our early start, but the Junction lacked the large crowds one usually sees on Jan. 1. The mountain looked positively deserted compared to previous editions.
As we pushed to the summit the temperature slowly plummeted and the wind picked up. Past the short but torturous 18% final section we saw just a small crowd frolicking on top. Fortunately it didn’t take long for our small pack to regroup because we just had to get off the top and out of the wind. The view was disappointing with clouds swirling around us. David commented that in the past clear days allowed us to see the snow-capped Sierras but not today. Down we went. Also unlike previous years, there were fewer idiots careening downhill at unwise speed; people pretty much seemed to be conscious that we were sharing the road. However one Phreddy Pro passed me—of course with no verbal warning (most are hardly past the one-word stage of development) and then proceeded to pass two other cyclists and a car…on a curve.
We took the cut-through into Diablo and ended up at Lunardi’s, chilled and hungry. Most opted for soup but I was hankering for cheap Chinese, which I got at the adjacent Panda Express. Sidenote: years ago nothing was open New Years in Danville but now just about everything is! After a refreshing break on the Lunardi’s patio, we did a brief tour of the Caboose tearoom and then sprinted northward back to Pleasant Hill BART. The best way to start the new year!