With temperatures expected to flirt with near-record highs on Tuesday as professional cyclists grind up Mount Diablo during the Amgen Tour of California race, spectators will need to brace for the oncoming swelter with plenty of water and sun protection.
Although normal temperatures are anticipated for the first two days of the race, temperatures could climb into the 90s, just in time for cyclists rolling in from San Jose to scale Mount Diablo's heights.
"And that's when the forecast could be more problematic for spectators, too," said Tom Dang, a National Weather Service meteorologist. "From what we're looking at right now, that'll be the most important day to make sure that people have plenty of shade and water."
Although light northerly winds of 5 to 10 mph might help to break up some of the scorching temperatures, this leg of the race is "when it gets a lot more dangerous," Dang said. And Wednesday and Thursday will be even hotter, with temperatures that could reach 100 degrees in Livermore and San Jose. But by that time, the cyclists and spectators will be long gone, headed down the wind-swept Big Sur coast, where 80-degree readings are expected.
Dave Matthews, public safety coordinator for the California State Parks Diablo Vista District, said many (but not all) of the water faucets and fountains turned off earlier this week have now been turned back on, primarily in the two of the larger viewing areas, the Rock City and Juniper Camp areas.
Bottled water will be for sale in the park at Rock City Junction and the lower summit area of the mountain, and plenty of medical responders will be on hand as well, as they are with every race.
The day of the race, "it's pretty crazy, with spectators lined up in some places from elbow-to-elbow, stretching right up to the peak," Matthews said. And along the mountain, there are some areas of natural shade, and others without it.
Many cycling enthusiasts hike or cycle to the summit and to various viewing areas on the mountain to watch the blur of their favorite professional cyclists passing by, he said. Those enthusiasts should bring plenty of their own water and their own personal shade, like a hat, umbrella or sunscreen, and dress in layers of light, breathable clothing.
Other essentials include a broad-brimmed hat, sunglasses, broad spectrum sunscreen and lip balm -- reapplied liberally every two hours in the sun -- and all the water and snack foods that can be reasonably carried, said Bill Lide, a dermatologist at Kaiser Permanente in Pleasanton and an avid cyclist who has ridden Mount Diablo many times.
Also knowing one's own abilities and limits when biking or hiking is crucial, Matthews said. "That's just good advice 365 days a year -- not just this event," he said.
Contact Joyce Tsai at 925-847-2123. Follow her at Twitter.com/JoyceTsaiNews.