Dirty Overnight: Black Diamond Mines

Hitch’em up, ride’m out!

Who but an elementary school teacher would convince a buncha hooligans to ride their bikes on dirt and sleep under the stars? Gathering packs of forty or fifty bikecampers, Adam Moss’ adventure rides are legend. This spring the word went around. We’re heading to Black Diamond Mines, a steep and hilly reserve of cow pasture and remnant oak woodland way out in the East Bay hills.

Over the years these short overnight trips have built a community. We circle up and share our names with strangers who become friends. We expect Alexis to wear no pants, Todd to go off on his own, and Erik to ride in past midnight. Some of us bring our cuties, while others show up with a bivvy sack instead of the two-person tent. Or vice versa, if you’re prowling.

Carrie perhaps said it best about these critical mass bike camps. “We’re all alone, but together.” We’re all outstanding, independent folk. Sure, we could head out for a lone wolf weekend in the woods or with just a few friends as usual. But we take a chance, choosing to follow the pack and help everyone who comes along. We share food and liquor and each other’s company. We catch up and ride some bikes.

For the route to Black Diamond Mines and campground details, skip to the end of the page.

Ms. Carrie, our lady of bike adventure. Nuestra señora de la aventura en bici.
Alexis goes off-road, towing a trailer and wearing no pants. A man whose undies match his shirt rides prepared.
Green grass, oaks and Danny!
Our final descent to Stewartville backpack camp was worth every step pushing our bikes to the top.
Anya showing off some kitty litter bucket panniers. Doing just fine on the dirt.
Vadja’s got jars of lacto-fermented carrots strapped to his (ridiculous, carbon) fork, proving you can strap anything to a Salsa Anything cage.
Aaron broke a rib a couple months ago. This is his first adventure back on bike. ‘Look Ma, no feet!’
Andrej rhymes with fey!
We tie up our steeds at Stewartville backpack camp.
We camped under a magnificent olive, which dropped tiny flowers and pollen all over us, and also possibly a scorpion.
The scorpion! The beastie stung Peter after dinner, then scrittered into his bike bags. The next morning, Peter carefully picked through all his gear to find the scorpion curled up in a towel. We liberated the wee stinging beastie (by throwing it over a fence).
I went to bed early (to commiserate with scorpion stung Peter), and caught the dawn while others slept in.
Tiny sticks for the tiny woodstove that also recharges your smartphone.
This brought to mind the only passage I remember from Hesiod. “Don’t piss standing up while facing the sun.” The rest of that passage is also gold.
Adam carb-loading with Coors for breakfast.
It was hard to leave camp. We rode out with chants of “No more fun. No MORE FUN!”
“No more fun” as we ride off into the hills towards Antioch.
Chugging up the hill and still carrying that Coors.
Moments after this picture, we passed the biggest rattlesnake of the trip. Adam yelled, “I can see the tail sticking out one hole and the head another!” It was actually two rattlers, which we found out when the first snake turned around and bolted straight for us!
Peter descends gravel like a pro, with the help of two liter Coke bottles of water strapped below his custom, water-jet cut front racks.
Great leader, Adam Moss!
More ladies on dirt! Go Julia!
Tommaso and I both wore our Climate Ride socks this trip.
Anya shreds the downhill.
And our mightiest rider of all, Courtney stepped on glass the day before and came anyway on a bike-pushing, dirt-riding, helluva ride.

If you wanna go to, here are the directions adapted from Adam. It doesn’t mention anything about pushing your bikes up steep dirt roads with sandy and rutted bits in the company of scorpions and rattlesnakes. That you’ll have a great time is implied.

WHERE -BART to Walnut Creek and then take this route!
CAMPStewartville backpack camp is $5 per person.
WATER– It will be critical for each person to have good water carrying capacity. There is no water at the campgrounds, though there are pit toilets, so make sure you have enough carrying capacity to keep yourself thoroughly quenched throughout the evening. We’ll top off our waters in Clayton before we enter the park.
A little history about the park for those inclined- http://www.ebparks.org/parks/black_diamond#history

2 thoughts on “Dirty Overnight: Black Diamond Mines

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s