Mt. Washington Auto Road Climb

Location: New Hampshire
Distance: 7.6 Miles
Elevation Gain: 6288ft

There are a number of Mount Washington’s on the East Coast. but only one lays claim to the highest peak in the NorthEast, and that is “The Rock Pile” in N.H.

Described as “the toughest hillclimbs in the world” the Auto Road Hill Climb had been a goal of mine for some time so after a good season of racing I woke up at 8am on a cold Sunday in February to join the registration rush for the following August’s event (online registration usually fills up within the first half hour of being posted!).

Mt. Washington on a clear day

After reading the forums and adding some special training to my schedule I made a few adjustments to my bike to prepare for Mt. Washington. I, like many others, may not have properly respected the “hors categorie” rating of the beast and thought I could get away with a modest 30-25 chainring combo. After all, it was “only” a 7.6 mile course up a hill…

As soon as we hit the first slope it became clear to me that I had made a mistake. :-) In the Garmin charts below you can see what a drag it is being overgeared.

CADENCE: The red line represents my minimum cadence to output proper power. Whoops! I really could have used a few more teeth on that cassette!!!

ELEVATION: Note the positively monotonous elevation gain from beginning to end--there is nowhere to rest!

Unlike most mountain roads that undulate and give you opportunities to recover between efforts, Mt. Washington is maniacally consistent from bottom to top. This means you have to find creative ways to prevent redlining or popping. I, rather surprisingly, found myself slowing down slightly and recovering while pedaling out of the saddle on the 18% sections.

The course itself is amazing, and the fans made it feel like a stage race at the ‘Tour. There are groups of them on the switchbacks cheering and many who drove up before the race wrote messages on the road in chalk.

You are greeted at the top with a blanket, a medal and a bottle of water. Once you catch your breath you can wander around the top and enjoy the view and the clouds blowing by between your feet (literally).

Just to make it interesting the finishing stretch is on a 22% grade.

This race isn’t *long* but it is difficult on an epic scale and like a marathon or triathlon it is a race you enter to finish, not to win. Though I missed the cutoff time for the “top notch” category by 3 minutes, largely due to the gearing misjudgment, I have no regrets and will return.

 

For more information on the Mt. Washington Auto Road Hill Climb visit the official site: mtwashingtonbicyclehillclimb.org

 

northeastcycling.com has great analysis of all of the great climbs in the area including a comparison of Mt. Washington vs. the other great climbs around the world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This entry was posted in Columns, Obstructed View on by .
Aaron Deutsch

About Aaron Deutsch

Aaron has always felt a passion for, if not a gravitational pull from, racing. Since being lured from the basketball court onto the track in 1993 he set 7 track & field records and medaled six times at the state level of competition.

He moved to the mountain bike in the late 1990s and won the Penn Cycle Buck Hill race series in 2000 in the sport class. He also placed 4th in the Subaru Cup XC race that year.

After moving to New York Aaron took up road racing and rode unattached for the first year and medaled in 2 races including a 1st place finish in the Kissena Race Series in 2007. In 2008 the Brooklyn Arches Cycling Club was formed and the results were immediate and consistent including winning the Cadence Cup Race Series in Brooklyn. He currently races with the Major Taylor Iron Riders Development Team

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