Next spring, the East Bay will host an amazing bicycle race as world-class riders pedal 11 miles up Mount Diablo, culminating with a 300-yard climb up a 16 percent grade to the finish line at the peak.
Weather cooperating, it will be a stunningly beautiful and extremely challenging finish to a 100-mile-plus day of riding on the seventh stage of the Amgen Tour of California, North America's leading professional cycling tour.
The routes for the eight days of riding have yet to be determined. But race organizers on Tuesday announced the end points for each stage. While last spring's tour included pedaling slightly more than halfway up Mount Diablo, the next one will be the first time in the race's eight-year history that it goes to the top. That's as it should be, for the full ascent is one of the region's premiere cycling routes.
Race director Jim Birrell tells us that the beauty of the ride and public support for the event last time were big reasons to return. That support included last-minute state-funded repairs to the badly deteriorated roadway at the southern entrance to the park.
There were also the thousands of cycling enthusiasts who turned out during the middle of the week to cheer on the riders. Next year, the Mount Diablo crowds will be even larger because the race to top will be held on a Saturday, May 18. (Mark your calendars.)
As before, we urge all spectators to be safe and cautious -- and to enjoy an event that displays some of the East Bay's most beautiful terrain.