Tim Johnson’s icy climb up Mount Washington on his fat bike
America’s first and oldest manmade attraction, the Mount Washington Auto Road has never welcomed a two-wheeled vehicle in the middle of winter, until now. Professional cyclist Tim Johnson ascended 1.427m on an icy 14-percent grade slope in one-hour, forty-five minutes and 48 seconds (01:45:48) by utilizing the latest fat bike technology to push the limits of what is capable on a bicycle.
When comparing a fat bike to your average road bicycle setup, the tire width is approximately four inches larger. Pair these oversized tires with carbide studs in the knobbies and you have a vehicle that can ride on unstable terrain, such as the icy, snowy and wind-blown Auto Road.
Mount Washington is famous for these dangerous wintry conditions and until recently held the world record for the highest recorded wind speed on land of 371km per hour.
A native New Englander, the six-time cyclocross national champion is known for raising awareness for bicycle advocacy through his work with PeopleForBikes.
Johnson’s career started on the Auto Road, winning the Mount Washington Hill Climb in August of 2000 and 2001. Even in the summer, the 12.2km route challenges the most accomplished amateur and professional cyclists.
Factoring in 80 kmph wind gusts driving wind chill temperatures as low as -28°C and this climb becomes an even more challenging feat. “I feel like I was fighting being too hot in the beginning because the first pitch out of the parking lot is one of the steepest pitches of the entire climb. You go from standing still to immediately realizing that this is one of the hardest climbs in North America,” said Johnson.
“By the time I got up to the Hair Pin turn (10.4 km, 1.737m), it was really windy, I had no traction and it was really tough to find anyway to keep moving forward. I couldn’t even stay upright.”
Reaching the summit, Johnson leaned over his bike and smiled. “Turning around and seeing what the White Mountains have to offer makes everything better. It’s amazing isn’t it?” The beginning of Tim’s cycling career was founded by riding anything, anywhere at anytime. More than a decade after his Mount Washington Hill Climb victory, Tim is still able to find firsts within his sport.
Watch the entire experience of Tim Johnson in this video: