40th Annual Mt. Diablo Challenge Memorial Ride
We are pleased to announce that the 40th Annual Mt. Diablo Challenge Memorial Ride will be held on Sunday, October 1, 2023
The 11.2-mile, individually timed ride climbs 3,249 feet to the summit of Mt. Diablo starting up South Gate Road. Mt. Diablo is one of the highest peaks in the San Francisco Bay Area, with views of the Farallon Islands and the Sierras. The road is closed for safety and more than 800 cyclists will ride to the summit. The ride welcomes all ages, abilities, teams, and bicycle types. It will be a once-a-year opportunity to enjoy riding the mountain without cars. Everyone celebrates after the ride with free BBQ, prizes, awards, and live music. Come participate in this epic ride that provides breathtaking scenery and test your climbing ability.
At the top, there will be food and drink before you descend and ride over to Monte Vista High School and Oak Hill Park to join the post-ride festivities. There you can cheer and perhaps join winners in 16 age categories, including King and Queen of the Mountain, and enjoy a great BBQ, beverages, vendors, and music for a grand celebration!
The History of the Mt. Diablo Challenge
The Mt. Diablo Challenge started as a fundraising ride dedicated to Joan Walt, who passed away at a young 26 years old of myocarditis. She had completed her annual physical just the week before with flying colors. Joan trained on Mt. Diablo two to three times a week. Her devastated mother asked if Valley Spokesmen could put on a ride up the mountain in Joan’s memory, and the Mount Diablo Challenge was born. At that time, any profit made was donated to the American Heart Association. A few years later, the Children’s Hospital Auxiliary (in Oakland) took it over, and the profit was contributed to the Heart Department and later other departments at the hospital. A few years later, the American Lung Association took on the job of organizing and sponsoring the event. From 2005 to 2016, the event was run by Save Mount Diablo, and proceeds were primarily used for land conservation benefiting Mount Diablo. Save Mount Diablo offered the event back to the Valley Spokesmen in 2017, and the Club has continued to host it since then. Meanwhile, in August 2020, a beloved cyclist named Joe Shami at age of 86 had just completed a streak of riding his Trek bicycle to the summit of Mount Diablo for 615 consecutive weeks. In addition to his amazing cycling achievement, Joe was also dedicated to improving bicycle safety on Mount Diablo and worked closely with many who have been focused on that goal. Those who knew Joe were inspired by his amazing accomplishments and referred to him as the “Legend of Mount Diablo.” In April 2021, Joe was tragically hit by an SUV in a roundabout and passed away. Consequently, the 2021 Mount Diablo Challenge was held in Joe’s honor and proceeds have focused on improving bike safety on Mount Diablo. Now, to respect the complete history of the event, the Mount Diablo Challenge Memorial will be held on October 2, 2022, in memory of both Joan and Joe, and proceeds will continue to support bicycle safety on Mount Diablo.
Preparing for The Challenge
The VSBC has recently restarted scheduled rides. Watch the VSBC ride calendar for rides up Mt. Diablo on weekdays and on weekends. We recommend riding up the mountain on weekdays if at all possible to avoid traffic. If you cannot ride on weekdays, an early morning ride on a weekend day can be nice, especially on an overcast day because many drivers visit the mountain for the view so there will be less traffic. Just remember to stay as far right as safely possible and use the pullouts and special bike turnouts when cars are behind you. When you descend, keep your speed down and stay close to the right because many cars coming uphill pass cyclists on blind curves and may stray across the double yellow line.
Here are some climbing tips to help you improve your technique:
Everyone arrives early to check in for the event at Monte Vista High School located at 3131 Stone Valley Road, Danville, CA. Then cyclists ride over to Athenian School on Mt. Diablo Scenic Blvd. to get ready for their wave. Cyclists are grouped in waves based on the time they think it will take to finish the climb.
The first wave starts at 8:30 am and subsequent waves continue every few minutes. The first waves get to ascend using the whole road. Later waves must stay to the right.
At the top, there is a mini-celebration with food and beverages to replenish after the climb. Then cyclists descend in waves and ride over to Monte Vista High School for a grand celebration with lots of delicious BBQ, drink, music, goodies and awards! Invite the family to join you there for the festivities!