MT. DIABLO (3,849’) BICYCLE SUMMIT May 1971

As I was attending the local college, I sought to do something for the Memorial Day weekend. Ever since I had a bicycle, I had been doing long rides. I got friends sometimes to go to destinations, mainly taking CA 160, the River Road, to as far as Rio Vista, CA, and back. In high school, we rode out to Stockton, CA, although our first time, my buddy rode into my bike, and my pedal ripped out his spokes. He had nice parents who came by to take us home. Trying it again, I made it back to the local shopping mall on Florin Road, where I succumbed to the heat, and my family had to come get me.

Contacting the enviro hiking club, I had found out about their activities. They conducted a Nevada peak climb, which sounded interesting. The leader and section chair wasn’t very friendly. I think at first he hung up, so I called back. He complained about too many phone calls, but then told me that they were all friends and didn't want more people. Put off, I had no choice, so figured to do my own adventure.

I had never done a bicycle overnight. Being poor, I couldn’t afford a good panier to hold my gear. I had a rack over my rear tire, so I strapped my sleeping bag to that, and what extra gear that I had in a makeshift manner. A short time beforehand, someone had attempted to saw through my high tech lock as I attended class. Thankfully some student had scared him away, so I didn’t lose my Schwinn ten speed. I had bought one green in the spirit of Earth Day and ecology. I recall I gave the person some money as reward.

With adventure in mind, I started out early from my home in South Sacramento. I had made rides many times along the River Road, so knew the way. As there often is, the delta breeze worked against me, so I fought the wind, although not so bad. Motorists were careful as they passed me, with very little shoulder, and tomato trucks were sort of scary. My speed as I recall was about ten miles an hour on average.

I was well familiar with places to take a break, and get water and snacks. Pollution even back then wasn’t my style. Finally coming to the old Antioch Bridge, bicycles then were allowed. I made it over, and then to the roads I had planned by my maps. I didn’t keep good records of my route, but I made it to the road that leads to the top of Mt. Diablo.

In low gear, I pedaled up slowly. As with my backpacking then, I had endurance. At one spot where there was a steep hairpin turn, I had to dismount and walk. Amazing myself, I made it to the summit parking lot, and then, I can’t remember if I bagged the summit by my future peak bagging standards. I didn’t count this on my peaks list. I can’t remember if I had my movie camera, but if I did, it didn’t work, so I had no movies. I had been there some times before, so the view wasn’t new or anything exciting. I had no great sense of accomplishment.

So then, I had to camp. Coasting downhill, I lost control at one point, due to my gear causing me to fishtail, and went careening into the ditch by the roadway. Flipping somewhat, I suffered perhaps some slight injury, but nothing bad. Continuing on, I made it to the campground, which was full. Some camper then vacated, so I got a spot. Dirt poor, I perhaps spoke to the ranger, and slept away without problem.

Not unduly sore or tired, the next morning, I had to ride on home. I coasted on down, being more careful, and took my same route back through the towns, and then to the old Antioch Bridge. The CHP never stopped me, as they have better things to do. I obeyed the law, and rode as close as I could off the roadway on the shoulder. Although sometimes, with as little traffic, I could hear or see approaching cars, so switched lanes to be out of their way, then switching back as they passed by. The wind was now coming from the north, so I had to fight it going both ways, although not that bad. Used to bicycling, the weather was sunny and warm, and I just kept up with pedaling, and the miles went by.

I arrived back home in good time, and prepared for more school. No friends that I had seemed too interested. Neither were any family. I had been inspired by the Davis Double Century, a 200 mile ride in a day. I recall that the distance to the top of Mt. Diablo I determined to be about 80 miles each way. Maybe I had mentioned my ride to the peak section people, but I surmise that basically they hadn’t seen it, so really didn’t know if I had done it. I had no pictures or anything. Maybe I had a stub from the camping, but that wouldn’t prove the ride. No witnesses aside from any motorists, who may have noticed a bicyclist along the way.

As the peak section stated honor system, I could understand. I didn’t do my fun to prove anything. Most club people didn’t do photography or much of anything to show what they had done.

After my retirement, I held onto my ten speed as it had served me well in my short commutes to work. Finally, living in a small apartment, I had neighbors with kids, so sold it for $25. They reported getting it stolen as they claimed to not have any lock. Cycling is dangerous in city streets, with the heavy traffic, and I liked just walking.

So now, it’s been years since I’ve been on a bicycle. Others claim misery, as I will admit to, as hiking and all, and never could I find any club person to ever do a longer distance ride as I once had. The local bike clubs had expensive bikes, and went really fast. Once, I attended a local bike club event, and shortly fell behind, to have to ride on my own. The hiking club had singles rides, which were geared to slow people, and were stated not to be endurance events. It got to be a problem, with numerous riders, all together, on city streets, creating some traffic problem.

I’ve been looking at a new bicycle, as it’s a nice green way to get about. Though now, it’s an expense and some hazard. I no longer have much will or desire to do long rides in the country. I recall people doing rides who wished for a mounted camera, and now there are dash cams for cars. You might record a ride view for some reason, to have the sights and memories. I don’t have time to review my dash cam videos, except for scenic drives which I can speed up and post. I still haven’t heard where anybody ever views any of them. If there had been the technology back then, I probably would have spent to have it. Now they have 128 GB cards, so if supported, that’d be about 20 hours of video per card.

One old hiker in the club stated, “Why does it matter who’s been where,” in reference to peak bagging claims. I can see that nobody cares about anything as far as my climbs and accomplishments. It used to be that a few might ask me about details, but I don’t know how they now take them. I accept that there is personal discovery, and that some have to learn the hard way.

In school, I stayed away from sports. I never cared for officiated events, and don’t wish for medals. I ran for health, but never entered any race, or attended any running event. That I don’t get any media recognition is fine with me. Other climbers and hikers feel the same. We don’t do this for fame or publicity, nor do I need money from this. One happily stated that he didn’t care whether I believed him or not about what he claimed. I also don’t get upset when “liar” is said.

Last I heard, bicycles aren’t allowed over the new Antioch Bridge, so the way that I had done this is now outlawed. There is also far more traffic than back then, so it is highly inadvisable. They have run the Amgen tour to the top of Diablo, but I last saw the roads as unmaintained well, and I haven’t been on them for quite awhile. Perhaps in some scenario, I can get back to a bike and ride down the road, but it’s worth little or nothing to me. It was so many decades back, and even back when, some other peak bagger stated that it was all in my mind! Asking old peak buddies, one replies, “I don’t know,” when I ask if we ever did such things. Be them aged and even senile or what, they now don’t care about anything that we did. So be advised, before you commit to a lifestyle of adventure. If you don’t enjoy doing something, it’s not worth it!

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