Mt Washington

So I was lucky (?) enough to gain entry into climbing Washington in July in the “practice” (non-timed) run. I did a forum search on this and got no hits.
I’m looking for training suggestions for a plan goal of 7.5miles @ avg grade of 12% (aware the top section is 22%). I know there’s the volcano plan as an option. I also considered Open Vid an option and just increase % of FTP over time to approximate grade + distance.

Basically, I’m wondering about the best possible simulation I can find in my pain cave (minus the wind/rain/freezing temps). Suggestions? Comments from anyone who’s done it are appreciated as well…

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Following. I’d like to do this in the future.

I did the “practice ride” and the race in 2017, the best analogy I’ve heard is “it’s unrelenting”. You’ll need at least a 1 to 1 ratio for gearing, I had a 22t mtb crank with a 26t in the back, I only used the lowest 3 gears. I may do it again this year but will go with a 28 max cassette. As for training I did it all outside usually climbing 8 to 10 thousand feet a week. I went too hard at the beginning of the race so pacing is critical. The last section is brutal! It is One Hammer for 7.6 miles! My current FTP is 248 , I averaged 245 for 1.5 hours during the race


Thanks Stephen. Love the pic too. Last fall I rode Ascutney (which is similar grade and half the distance) and just based on that alone I’m guessing a 90min event +/-. I see the cyclonaut kit - did you have a favorite local hill in getting that 8-10K ft/week?
There has to be others on SUF that have done this event and have experience to share, no?

I did many hills, many trips around Barkhamstead reservoir, 50 mile loop with 4000 elevation. Mountain Rd in Granby Ct is about 12% for the first .75 mile. During the week I’d do Mountain Rd to East Hartland, down 20 to Rt. 219, up 219 to the top and back down, then cross 20 then up Higley to Silkey Rd. gave me about 25 miles and 2500 elevation. Russel Stage Rd, Dickinson Hill and RT 23 has some good climbs in Blandford MA. I’ll be doing a lot this year, I’m doing the VTGF, 130 miles and 13k of elevation.

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Wont’ comment on training, but will say that having the right gearing will make a significant difference to your level of fun on that glorious day. Also, pray to the weather gods.

Thanks Larry and Welcome to SUF.
And, yes, I’m hoping the weather Gods are working with me that day in mid-July.

Update: I have a slot for the August event, but my LBS has had my aluminum bike since October and still hasn’t been able to source a mountain bike drive train to install on it.

To get a sense of how things might go with my current gearing, I did the following:

I’ve been putting in the work, but I simply don’t have the leg strength to seriously climb with my current drive train. If I can’t get that gearing swapped in time, I’ll have to drop out of the event and choose another “Big Mountain,” end-of-summer goal. Perhaps a 150-200 miler that touches four or more states?

Alex, a few things:
The Aug event is a race - I did the ‘practice event’ in July 2021 (untimed) which was so laid back it didn’t even have a start time. I think that matters for the kind of expectations you have on yourself; mine were to get to the top without stopping. If you’re there to race/ beat a previous time that’s completely different.
I swapped out the crankset (which includes buying a bottom bracket as well) on my bike to a compact; I’d been told to consider a 1:1 ratio gearing; I used 34 teeth up front and 32 teeth in rear but found that wasn’t necessary (I saved the 32T as I’d heard the final section was steepest and only used it there). I’m not clear or not if a MTB rear derailleur is required for a 32T cog - I think the LBS called it ‘long arm’ (?).

Thanks, Wheels.

I corresponded with the race director when the race registration opened about a month before the practice registration. He told me, basically, “Don’t worry about it. There’s no time limit and plenty of people push their bikes to the top.” So, sure, I signed up for the race.

Regarding the gearing, my understanding is that the “long arm” derailleur is the MTB derailleur. When I gave him my bike several months ago, my LBS proprietor thought he had parts lying around that could do the job. Turns out, he didn’t. I think my project got pushed to the back of the workshop while he spent his time doing quick-turnaround jobs. Now that I’m pinging him on a weekly basis, he’s scouring suppliers (and the internet) for the parts.

Fact is, I’ve been burned by this shop before and have wound up taking my bike to the REI about an hour from my house. I gave this shop another chance, however, on the principle that I prefer to support local businesses when possible. We’ll see what happens.

Sir Alex,
Yeah - tell them you need 2 months practice on it before event - which gives them 2-4 weeks time to get it on and supports the LBS. Meanwhile, you could check with REI and see if they have it in stock in case LBS doesn’t come through.
Let me know how it works out and even better, how your race day goes. You are a KOS after all so I don’t expect you’ll have any difficulties on the climb.
BTW: Mt Ascutney (VT) costs 4bucks to park, is of comparable grade but only half the distance of Washington - it’s a good test ground (it actually starts off much steeper initially than Washington).

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We’ve been meaning to visit Vermont this summer. I see that Milk House Ice Cream in St. Johnsbury is only an hour and a half south of Mt. Ascutney. Something to look forward to!

Awesome you’ve built the magic road on RGT! I would say firstly take the stress away and ride it slow to familiarise yourself with he route and getting to the top before putting ‘race’ pressure on yourself.

SYSTM has a lot of hill climbing sessions on offer and in the training plan section there are a couple of options too:


Another option to give you better guidance and put somethign together is to chat with one of our Wahoo coaches


Thanks, Coach. Back in October, I booked a session with Coach Andy. Here’s the plan he recommended:

NOV-DEC: Building Blocks - Base
JAN-FEB: Building Blocks - MAP
MAR-APR: Building Blocks - FTP
MAY: Building Blocks - AC/NM
JUN: All-Purpose Road Plan (first month only)
JUL: Building Blocks - Recovery

I’ve been sticking with that plan, with the proviso that I’ve been swapping specific rides on the plans for other, similar rides that I haven’t yet completed. Hey, I like hunting badges! I do have a wrinkle coming up from Mid-May through the end of June, however. I have a significant block of personal and professional travel coming up, so the only bikes I’ll have access to will be dumb trainers in hotel gyms. My current plan is to spend that time running, doing a lot of core and lower body strength training, and cutting weight. I’m currently at my target, long-term sustainable weight, but I figure it can’t hurt to drop 5-8 pounds for the hill climb.

I feel fit and strong, or at least I did before I caught this nasty (but not C-19) cold that has put me down for the last couple of weeks. The thing is, the Mt. Washington climb is so steep (22% near the top) and so long that, at my current gearing, I run out of strength well before I run out of endurance. Thus, we have an engineering problem. If I can swap to a mountain bike gear ratio (say, 50/34), I can spin my way to the peak. Endurance for the win!

While writing this, I’ve settled on a course of action: give my LBS a deadline of 31 MAY to complete the project. If the folks there fail to deliver, take the bike back and go to REI. That’ll be the last straw WRT my relationship with my LBS, but my wife did gift me a bike maintenance stand on my last birthday. It’s about time I bought a book on bike mechanics and maintenance and learned how to do my own work.


Glad to hear you’ve been sticking to the plan! I would say don’t focus too much on dropping more weight if you know where you are is sustainable and good for power, more power will improve your W/Kg too! In terms of gearing, 50/34 compact is good for a road bike, with most rear mechs accommodating at least a 30t cassette. You can I think get even more compact chainrings used for cyclocross. Also, training on the indoor trainer with a simulated gradient could help as shown here, even with a makeshift hill of books under the front wheel :stuck_out_tongue:


Oh, no! I strained a hamstring playing volleyball last night!

This whole “aging” thing is for the birds.

@AlexEllermann Is it age or not warming up? I thought the same about my long hike this weekend but decided that it is really about not training those muscles as much as the ones that I use for the bike.

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You ever get your bike parts worked out for the Aug climb?

I’d love to give you a ribbing about playing volleyball during Washington training except I did similar with my low back and playing pickelball - “something about the kettle calling the pan black…”

Anyways, chances are good that ice is now your best friend.

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Both. Next time, I’ll take a couple laps and get in a good stretch first.

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We got me down to a 1:1 ratio in my granny gear, which is still pretty rough at grades steeper than 15%. I was hoping to go even lower, but that’s the best my LBS could do.