Mount Washington is known for strong winds capable of blowing light vehicles off the road. The Northeast's tallest peak, located in New Hampshire, is considered a dangerous place, one where a wind speed of 231 mph was once recorded.
Upon this cold, blustery and unforgiving canvas, mountain biker Tim Johnson did what nobody has ever done before. As reported by Red Bull, Johnson became the first to ascend Mount Washington Auto Road on a bike in the winter.
Using a fat bike and deflating the tire pressure to gain more traction, Johnson ascended 4,685 feet on an icy road with a 14 percent grade in 1 hour, 45 minutes and 38 seconds. For comparison, his best time for the 7.2-mile ride is around 53 minutes in fair weather.
Johnson, a six-time cyclocross national champion and two-time Mount Washington Hill Climb winner (held in summer), endured wind gusts of up to 49 mph and a minus-19 wind chill in completing the feat earlier this month, this after obtaining special permission since two-wheeled vehicles are otherwise off limits this time of year.
“By the time I got up to the Hair Pin turn (6.5 miles, 5,700 feet), it was really windy, I had no traction and it was really tough to find any way to keep moving forward,” Johnson told Red Bull. “I couldn't even stay upright.”
Fortunately, he didn't try it the day before when winds blew 95 to 100 mph with gusts up to 125 mph.
A snowcat, van and snowmobiles were on hand to support Johnson and to transport cameramen, who captured the feat in video and photos.
“One of the older, more-established Mount Washington site employees actually said to me, 'I just want you to know that we require our snowmobiles to have carbide spikes — on the tracks and even skis — because when the wind is more than 55 mph, it can push lighter vehicles right off the road.'”
The Red Bull video gives an idea of the difficulties Johnson faced on Mount Washington Auto Road, America's first and oldest manmade attraction:
“For a kid that grew up in New England, Mount Washington is this almost mythical giant—but it's really not that crazy, you learn when you start to travel,” Johnson told Red Bull. “It's 6,288 feet, so by numbers it's really not that tall, but the way the weather works in that area makes it a really dangerous place.”
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