Blog Reader Curtis sent me an e-mail a few weeks ago and said that he used to ride Diablo 30+ years ago and I asked him to write a guest blog entry about what it was like back then. Here's his story (he couldn't find any old photos though):
It's all my friend Matt's fault. I had recently graduated from SF State and he suggested we go for a ride. I had a heavy-frame Gitaine Grand Sport Deluxe with steel wheels -- just a little better than the popular 42-pound Schwinn Varsity most guys had. Off we went. Matt was a garage sale junkie, so we'd ride from Walnut Creek to Alamo, Danville, Blackhawk, San Ramon and Concord looking at garage sales and never buying anything. There were no computers then, so I had no idea how far we went, only that we were out from 8am to the late afternoon. It became a routine.
Matt introduced me to helmets (those way cool, white Bell Bikers) and bike shoes with cleats. We rode in tee-shirts and cutoffs because cycling clothes cost as much or more than they do now, only in 1975 dollars. Jerseys were wool, shorts had real chamois; we could afford neither. He showed me how to patch tubes and clean my chain and how to draft and ride in a club pace line. He was so cool because he had sewups and some campy parts on his Stella.
One day he suggested we ride up Diablo, and I said sure. I'm not sure if I made it the first time, but I know I was able to a short while later. Becoming addicted, I found a used Gitaine Tour de France 10-speed (ten speed as in ten total, not a 10 speed cluster). I bought it for $200. It had Suntour Cyclone derailleurs, clamp-on downtube friction shifters (like every bike) an old comfy Ideale leather seat and 1" clincher rims with low-end campy hubs. It was a rocket!
Matt eventually moved away, and it took me a long while to transition from riding with someone to riding alone.
I've had spurts of riding in the 80s, 90s and now I'm back in the saddle again, commuting and going on longer rides over the weekends.
Last weekend-- Diablo. Just the junction: North gate, down the South and back through Danville, but I lived. I was amazed to see how many riders there were. Back in the day I was thrilled to see anyone on the mountain. Last Saturday was packed with cool riders. It was great to notice I wasn't the fattest, or slowest guy there. Amazing.
Curtis has started his own blog with motivational posts about rekindling an old passion; you can read it here: