Sooner or later, a cyclist has to challenge his or her legs. When that time comes, most Bay Area riders head to Mount Diablo in the East Bay. In 2012, the Amgen Tour of California finished one stage of the race at the top of the 3,800-foot climb.
What Makes It Great
If it's good enough for the professionals, it's good enough for you. This lung-busting, leg-burning climb is just about 11 miles, depending on whether you head up North Gate or South Gate Road. (The two roads meet at a junction in the state park about halfway up).
The fastest riders can do the climb from bottom to top in around 40 minutes when racing all-out, but be prepared for it to take much longer. An hour is considered a good time for an athlete in competition! Once you're at the summit, the prominence of Diablo gives a more encompassing view than any other mountain in the country. The top can be cold, however, as it's often above the cloud layer. Bring water and layers. The ride up is typically hot and dry in the summer.
Who is Going to Love It
Hill climbers rejoice, this is your mountain. The climb can be searingly hot in the summer, so try to ride early and bring lots of water. While it's a monster climb, intermediate cyclists can tackle Mount Diablo if they pace themselves.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Many cyclists start at Walnut Creek. Most riders take BART to Walnut Creek and make a full 38-mile loop from there, going up one side and down the other. Plus, it'll give you bragging rights to all your cycling friends.