Believe it or not I had never ridden to the Mt. Diablo summit from the North Gate until the day before this race. It might not have been the best physical preparation to do this the day before but I think it helped mentally. Following my successful sub hour time on the Wabi 725 on single speed on the South Gate challenge last year I decided to see if I could beat the hour from the North gate. People said that the North gate was a more difficult climb but on a single speed it had the advantage that there was less downhill. I opted to run the same 42″ gear.
The start of the race was pretty chaotic and very overcast. I had to pick my way through lots of riders to catch up with the lead group right from the start. On my low gearing I was pedaling like a mad thing just to keep up. I reckon I must have touched 140RPM in places but somehow managed to hang on. The first 1.5 miles were a real struggle for me but there was a significant headwind so I sat in the group the best I could. I think if it had been a tailwind I would have been dropped due to my low gearing. Somewhere near the start the eventual winner Luiggi must have attacked because I never saw him for the whole race so I though we were leading on the road.
When we hit the first steep section I decided to go to the front to stretch things out a bit and the lead group dwindled a bit. There was still a good group of riders working together but as we hit the false flat after the steep bit Paul Castonguay attacked. There was nothing I could do here as I was probably already doing about 120RPM when he went. Considering the headwind I felt sure we would bring him back before the summit.
On the second steep section before the ranch with the white fence I pushed hard again to try to bring back Castonguay and as things flattened out a bit I realized it was only myself and Andy Crews left. We worked well together and as we hit the junction the mountain became engulfed in low clouds and we lost sight of Castonguay. For the rest of the climb we worked well together trying to keep our position. The single speed gear felt just about right into the foggy headwind and i felt good.
I always find the section from Juniper to Devils elbow to be really tough as it is a sustained steep grade but it was certainly better with someone to work with. As we hit the elbow and the gradient let off Andy attacked me and I had neither the legs or gears to answer the attack. I chased hard and managed to pull him back and put in an attack of my own which didn’t work so it came down to man vs man on the final steep bit to the summit. Unfortunately I ran out of legs with about 100m to go and Andy pulled away to take third place (at the time I thought it was second) by 5 seconds. I was a bit disappointed not to break the hour but i blame the headwind for that.
Results: Male 40 – 50:
- Luiggi Zuniga 54:32.
- Paul Castonguay 58:37.5
- Andy Crews 1:00:37.3
- Mark King 1:00:42.7
- Terry Marshall 1:01:44.4