Hillclimb Feature Presentation 12; Ernest Wang

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:

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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.

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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:

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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:

 

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Near the top, the sight of the Mount Washington Observatory was a welcome site:

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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:

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(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!

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After I recovered, I took some obligatory shots from the top and had the opportunity to watch others grind the last leg:

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The lunch party was a great finish to a fantastic day. What a well run event for a great organization.

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Thanks for the memories!

Tailwinds,

Ernie

 

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