It never hurts to be reminded that multi-time US cyclocross champ and all-around good guy Tim Johnson is pretty hardcore. While most cyclists in the northeast US are spending the short cold winter days inside and dreaming of fairer weather, Johnson decided to climb up the closed road to the peak of new Hampshire’s Mount Washington in the dead of winter. Long known for its dangerous and unpredictable weather, including the highest winds ever measured worldwide outside of a cyclone (231mph/372km/h), the road is actually closed from October through May to everything but the tracked vehicles that the private mountain operates.
Having started his road career with a summer win climbing the mountain back in 2000 (also the year he won his first elite CX champs), Johnson took a studded tire fatbike to the top for his February 2nd ride. Since bikes are only allowed on the road to the summit during the annual summer hill climb, that gives Johnson the first official winter ascent, and the current winter record time of 1hr 45min 48sec. But that might not stand too long. Mount Washington hosts an annual ski and snowshoe event up the climb each year, and is adding a fatbike category this coming month. Check out a video shot by Red Bull of Johnson’s winter peak bagging, and info on how you too can tackle the snow-covered mountain by fatbike…
One of the highlights from Johnson’s telling of the story was when they were getting permission for the ride and talking with one of the old timers that work on the mountain:
“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.” And then he paused and said, “But, I understand you’re kind of a bad ass mountain biker, so it shouldn’t be a problem for you.” That made me think: “Oh, shit, really — that can happen?”
Just to get a glimpse at how quickly the weather changes on the peak, check out the two photos below, taken just a short time apart as they were playing around at the top. Get the full story and even more excellent photography from Brian Nevins at: RedBull.com
As for your own chance to try and beat Tim Johnson, the Ski, Shoe & now Fatbike to the Clouds event goes into its 20th year this winter on March 13, 2016, for the first time adding bikes. Skiers, snowshoers, and fatbikers will each get their own mass starts and with so few people on the mountain can expect spectacular views of the Presidential Range on the climb. And with weather as crazy and changeable as it usually is on Mount Washington, the up to 2 hours it will take to get to the top is sure to offer a bit of everything. The event is pretty limited, with a max total of 150 competitors across all disciplines, so register now to take part. But realistically how many crazy people are going to try to do this anyway?