You see, I had another plan, VERY similar to my Stage 1 plan (which was to drive to Sacramento to see the finish). This plan was to ride to the top to see the finish. There were a few road blocks to my incredibly well-thought out plan though. For one thing, by the time I got to the area, parked my rental car, unloaded my bike, pumped my tires, and donned all my gear, it was high noon. In the hottest day of the year (so far...Wednesday is supposed to be even HOTTER). All I can say is that it was plenty hot.
I'm thinking mid to high 90's from the moment I hit the road. And as the climb progresses, there are continually spots where there was zero breeze, making it feel like I might burst into flames. No clouds either, just bright sun and the few shade spots from tall trees in the right places. Thankfully with my thousands of close friends, there was always people to draft on (cuz that's what you want on a scorching day: someone in front of you blocking any breeze). Actually it was like a continually changing wave of people...some passing me and some being passed by me. There were lots of people really flying up the mountain, and then I'd just keep chunking along (in my granny) and eventually I'd see most of them stopped at one of the big tent complexes that had cropped up on the big turnouts and such. I was the tortoise to the MANY MANY hares. Except for those I passed, in which case I was the hare.
There were port-O-potties on the side of the road every so often, which is a nice touch for all the scads of people. Many rode only part way up and then quickly settled into a shady spot with chairs and whatever else that they had carried. Cars weren't allowed past the lower slopes, so it was all bikes and hikers. But some had obviously gotten there before the barricades as there were trailers and such all over the place.
One thing I learned about the Diablo climb: it starts of easy and just gets steeper and steeper as you go, the hairpin turns looking very similar to the high mountain climbs of France we see every year in July. At 2k left to climb a huge part of my plan was shattered when I found out that we mere peasants wouldn't be allowed to ride all the way, we had to check our bikes there and walk if we wanted to go higher. So I did. You see, on a stroke of pure genius, I swapped pedals and shoes before I left with my Mt bike...so I had shoes with tread and cleats that are recessed...so I could actually walk in them. I would have destroyed my road cleats with 2k of pavement walking. I'd almost brought a backpack with tennis shoes or sandals, but decided against it as I didn't want to carry that on my back in what was sure to be a very hot day (good call on my part I must say!). So I parked my bike, grabbed my Garmin and my water bottle, and set out for the summit.
As I neared the summit I found out another chink in my evil plan: lowly peasants are not allowed past the finish line (or actually even about 30' or so from it on the downhill side). Man, it sucks being a peasant! You had to be a VIP to ride your bike to the top (or get a free ride in busses and such), and go past the finish, and then sit in luxury tents being schmoozed/wined and dined and such (while I sat huddled behind the barricade about 50' from the line in the blistering sun with nothing to drink for about 2 hours, trying to get in any small amount of shade I could find without losing my spot). About the last three or four hundred meters there were full barricades on one side of the road only.We were only allowed to be on the steep down of the road, leaving us about 2' of walking width (past that you fall off the mountain). I clawed my way past all the people guarding their spots up that last few hundred meters until I got as close to the finish as I could, then sat down in the hot dirt/gravel and sipped the very last of my water. Then the long wait for the peleton began. And they were running late as it was very hot for them out on the course too.