I turn sixty years old this year and in memoriam for this monumental feat I am riding in the Mt. Washington Bicycle Hillclimb. It’s considered the most difficult hillclimb in the US for cyclists. I haven’t been on a bike on thirty-years. This is my on-going blog about my decision, my training, and the ride. No doubt there will be a smattering of philosophy and self-help tossed in as I see fit.

For the first post in the series go here: Yup. I’m Turning Sixty Years Old


The Mt. Washington Hillclimb Bicycle

Wherein I Attempt To Ascend The Most Difficult Cycling Peak On A Craigslist Special

So, I’ve decided to ride in the Mt. Washington Bicycle Hillclimb.  This means I need a bike.  Now, the last time I was on a bike was in the late-eighties in the Athens Twilight Criterium. I met the US Team and a few riders from Europe and I was beaten so thoroughly that I drove home and gave my bike away. If you can’t win the Tour de France then why ride, right? Stupid, yes, but this is how my brain works.

hill climb bicycle

Mine was red but this is it! We spent many happy hours together.

I was riding a Kobe then. You’ve probably never heard of the name outside of basketball. There’s little information on Kobes but they were made in Japan for a Californian company and sold to dealers. I bought mine in a bike shop in Tacoma. It was a bike recommended for serious enthusiasts who weren’t seriously enthusiastic enough to by an Italian or French model.  It was a nice bike. I won many medals with it and had lots of fun. These were the days of steel frames and heavy lugs with fancy filigrees that looked like a human being had lovingly fit the bike together. It’s different now with everything built in a wind tunnel and pared down for cost-effectiveness. Now every bike and car and toaster looks the same. Oh well, the artisan has been going extinct ever since Ford built his first assembly line. I don’t expect this to change.

Are The Most Expensive Bikes The Best?

I learned an important lesson from my Kobe that I’ve applied across a whole host of wants and desires. I drooled over the Italians. Forget boobs taped up on the locker door: I wanted a Guerciotti or Colnago frame. That was beauty!  These hand-fitted bikes were simply gorgeous. And cycling magazines and catalogs drilled it into my head that I needed one to win races. But, as I kept at racing, I found that it wasn’t true. I noticed that my quaint little Japanese bike and I were beating the flashy Euros. It dawned on me that until you reach an elite level of fitness in cycling, or in anything, the fancy thing isn’t going to carry you across the line any faster. If you’re packing an extra twenty pounds and the farthest you’ve ever ridden is ten miles then that hand-made French job ain’t going to get you to the podium. Now, there is a joy in using something wonderful and I don’t discount that. But unless you have loads of money lying about then a mid-priced, recognized marquis is probably the way to go.

Buying My Bike

With this idea in mind, I went to Craigslist and there, on the first hit, just across my sleepy little town, was a Raleigh Revenio. It had a 61 cm frame and the owner claimed that it had been ridden just a handful of times. He and his fiancée purchased bikes together thinking that sweating together along rough back roads of South Carolina would be a wonderful way to spend their free time. Apparently, the sweating part wasn’t as fun for her. I read a couple of reviews and bought the bike for three hundred bucks.

hill climb bicycleNow the fun starts. If you are a biker or if you know a biker, you’ll know that most things – bills, children, work, school – all become secondary to your bike and to riding. I needed a new seat. I didn’t like the numbers on the cassette. The bike had cages and straps which I used in the past but I traded up for some Nashbar Delta pedals. I agonize over changing out the dropped bars for bullhorns. I really, really agonize over a new set of wheels which would double the price of the bike for just a starter set. I’ve decided to pare down as much as I can and make the bike a sturdy comfortable ride. The weight around my gut is my biggest obstacle at this point. Shaving half a pound off my wheels won’t be the difference between success or the ditch. I’ think I’ll save wheels for next year. My plans at this point are to do Mt. Washington this year and Pike’s Peak next year. If my plan works like I want it to, I’ll buy a new bike next year with my work bonus. I’ve been drolling over a French Lapierre lately. Bicycling magazine tells me that I can zoom to the top of the Peloton with this $10,000 beauty!

Running Bike Costs

ItemCostTotal
Raleigh Revenio 1.0300.00300.00
Nashbar Look Delta Pedals with Cleats50.00350.00
Brake Shoe Cartridge Upgrade22.00372.00
Shimano 8 Speed Cassette, 11-2824.00396.00
New tires, heavy training22.00418.00
Nashbar Composite Bottle cages16.00434.00
PRO Turnix Flow Saddle27.00461.00

Next up? Get rid of my bar brakes, a new seatpost, and maybe a new crankset. (You can  see that I’m approaching the cost of a starting model road bike…)

Cheers!


To see a real hillclimbing bike check out this video.
The Mt. Washington Bicycle Hillclimb
The pleasure of pain: The hardest hillclimbs of the 2017 Tour de France