As a flatlander from Chicago, I entered this event with some trepidation and concern. Concern about fitness, finishing, and, after reading a lot of stories online about the climb, coming to a stand still and falling off my bike on the final 22% grade.
I asked the guys at Velosmith Bicycle Studio (www.velosmith.com) to outfit my bike with some really low range gears. What they came up with was this. They installed a SRAM X9 derailleur on my bike and a Shimano Deore 11-36 cassette. They took out the 15T and installed a Wolf Tooth Components 42T cog so that I would have 11-42 on the back. On the front, I had a 50-34 compact ring set up. This allowed for a full range of gearing options.
Kudos to Velosmith and SRAM because the shifting was flawless from 50-11 to 50-28. Shifting down from 50 to 34, even under load, was fine, so I could ride around the local area without problems. Of course for the Hillclimb, I never even considered the 50 ;-).
I started out the race in the back of my wave because I didn’t know how my body was going to react. I was impressed that the road turned up right from the get go and never relented:
I started to worry a little when the first few people dismounted their bikes and started walking. At mile 0.5… At that point, I decided that the best thing to do is to just take photos with my iPhone as I went along to chronicle the experience.
I received lots of helpful advice before from the friendly folks at Destination Cycling (http://destinationcycling.com/) and from people before and along the way, “Listen, pal, just chill for miles 2-4. You’ll need it later…” I kept spinning as it got steeper. There were all kinds of bikes on that road.
At Mile 5, the gravel started. As did people dismounting and walking. Around the corner, the gravel looked like it was going to continue forever:
It was getting colder too. After that, the tree line disappeared and we were exposed to the wind, albeit a very gentle one that day. Lucky for us:
Near the top, the sight of the Mount Washington Observatory was a welcome site:
But before the end, I had to make it up the last 50 meters at 22%. I put it into low gear and took the corners wide:
(Thanks @joevigorphoto – http://www.joeviger.com/Events/2015-Mt-Wash-Bicycle-Hillclimb/)
The relief getting to the top was truly overwhelming and satisfying. 5 miles per hour never sounded so good to me!
After I recovered, I took some obligatory shots from the top and had the opportunity to watch others grind the last leg:
The lunch party was a great finish to a fantastic day. What a well run event for a great organization.
Thanks for the memories!