Sunday, October 5, 2008

Sun, Oct 5: Mount Diablo Challenge 2008

Last year, my goal for this year's Mount Diablo Challenge was "riding Mount Diablo in 1:20 or better on a bike lighter than my current 22-pound Trek". Back in February I bought a new bike, but due to my crash seven weeks ago, I could only be at the event today as a volunteer for Save Mount Diablo.

The day started with driving up Diablo while it was still dark. At South Gate, all traffic was stopped for about 30 minutes due to a fallen tree between the kiosk and the Service Area past Rock City. Once cleared, it had gotten brighter already, so experiencing sunrise on Diablo must wait. The remaining drive up to the summit was uneventful, but the views were rewarding.

Wind chill probably around 40F ...

At 8:30am, the first wave started; 1:10 minutes into the race:

It didn't feel very much later when we saw cyclists in the distance, between Junction and Juniper. Shortly after, the motorcycle escort was seen, followed by a single rider.

And then, a few minutes before we actually expected the first cyclist to pass the finish mark, 24-year old Nate English (ZteaM) from Berkeley, sprinted up the final incline ...

... and finished with a new course record of 43:33.3 minutes, beating the old record by 1:25 minutes (44:58); Nate also won the 48th Annual Mt. Tamalpais Hill Climb on Sep 27.

Nate's team mate, Justin Laue, finished over two minutes later, at 45:51.8:

Christopher Phipps finished third with 47:09.0; last year, the top three finishers were Phipps, English, Laue.

Here the unofficial, overall result (top 18):

UPDATE: Photos and Official results are available now.

Unfortunately, on the way driving down, we came by two accidents; two cyclists had crashed between South Gate Kiosk and Park Entrance. At the site of the first crash, I saw a young woman lying on a stretcher, with Fire&Rescue and Sheriff already on scene; and just a few curves later, another more seriously looking crash, where a cyclist apparently drove into a ditch filled with rocks /boulders. The sheriff I talked to later, said that the young woman broke her hip, and that the young man was in more serious condition; he was later transported back up the mountain to be airlifted out by helicopter. Apparently there were a total of four accidents that day. We wish both cyclists a full and quick recovery from their injuries.


Steve said...

Thank you Pommi for this report of the race.

Beautiful photos, and an amazing new best time.

Had ridden the event for 6 years. A great event - for a great cause.
In my opinion the event has gotten too large- and with your report of 4 accidents- unfortunately it has also become dangerous.

An idea for the event organinizers is to have riders descend in waves- simply letting 100 riders go at a time - with 3 minute intervals.
This might make the trip down a bit safer.

The event needs to look seriously at safety issues.

Just one person's opinion.

We are blessed to have Mt. Diablo at our doorstep.

Steve McGill- Danville

Diablo Scott said...

Thanks for volunteering, I'm glad to read that you enjoyed it. I must have been in the same convoy as you coming down and saw the same accidents. I'm all for safe descending but I don't think the park staff really understand how to make that happen - it's definitely not by escorting big packs of riders down at ultra slow pace.

That sunrise photo is NICE!

beeble said...


Just curious about the 2 dq's at the top of the list. If Nate was the first across the line did those 2 guys get dq'd along the route?

pommi said...


I saw #700 at the finish (I have an eye for numbers), don't know about #1223. The girls running the timing computer said that those two started in the wrong wave, and this is a reason for disqualification.

beeble said...

Wow that would suck...

I like the age group though, 17 to 55 is pretty funny.

pommi said...

Steve, DiabloScott,

thanks for your comments.

I'm sure SMD and local Law Enforcement will take a hard look at cyclist safety after determining the causes of yesterday's accidents.

TiGirl said...


Sorry to have missed it! Maybe next year the body will cooperate and I can give it a go then...with you and TBV, too! Thanks for volunteering. It's important we all give back when we can.

Not familiar with the race, or course, but for the big uphill climb on Maui, riders are NOT PERMITTED to ride back down for insurance purposes. (National Park rules for the race). The organizer provides a few large trucks for bikes, neatly packed and buses and vans to transport the riders back to the start line. It has worked out well, though it's a bummer that after riding 36 miles and 10,000ft you can't ride back down!

Just a thought...