Project Bike: Mount Washington Climbing Machine

June 30, 2012

in Bike Design, Bikes, Present - Meaning Today

“Climbing Machine” – that’s a reference to the rider John Bayley, not the bicycle’s task.

John Bayley leading the climb on a raining day | Photo: Natasha Boltukhova

This is a “speed project” in the sense that we’re pulling this together very quickly.  Ride Studio Cafe team member John Bayley is racing on July 7 in Newton’s Revenge – the first of the two annual Mount Washington hill climb bicycle races.

Two Races for this bike project:

  • What:  Newton’s Revenge
  • When:  Saturday, July 7, 2012 at 8:00 am
  • Why:  To show what a Seven can do in a climbing situation.  That’s why we chose the Axiom SLX – Seven’s pure climbing bike
  • What #2:  Mount Washington Hill Climb
  • When #2:  Saturday, August 18, 2012 at 8:50 am
  • Why #2:  To refine the design from Newton’s so we can provide an even better bike!

John Bayley during the 2011 Green Mountain Double Century | Photo: Natasha Boltukhova

Who is John Bayley?

Bullet points will not suffice, but that’s all we have time for on this Speed Project:
  • John Bayley holds the tandem record for Mount Washington at 1:06:32 with Kristen Gohr.
  • “John has raced up Mt. Washington numerous times […] always finishing within the top 10.”

Mount Washington Race Profile

  • Elevation gain 4727 ft.  Elevation: 6,288 feet
  • Length of race 7.6 miles
  • Grade Avg. 12%, extended 18%, final 100 yards 22%
  • Road Surface 87% paved, 13% packed gravel
  • Temperatures vary dramatically from base to above treeline
  • Average annual wind speed 35.3 mph; winds can get up to 5o+ mph gusts

2012 Results:  Mt. Washington – 18 August

Carnage of the climb | Photo: Rob Vandermark

This outing didn’t have the expected result.  John’s bike had a bit of a mechanical:  John’s 32-tooth rear cog with a chain I cut for a 27 cog.  A rookie move on my part for not thinking of this.  The climbing cog and the short chain didn’t get along too well; the rear derailleur got stuck in the middle.  The derailleur exploded at about 5.5 miles so John got to run the rest of the way up the “hill.”

John didn’t give up – and that’s why we did this project in the first place – so I’m happy with the result.  The bike was great.  Both events were memorable – for different reasons.  And John’s attitude was a positive as ever.  John and Pamela did get on the couple’s podium, taking third overall.  When they post on their blog about the event I will link to it.

It’s interesting that this problem didn’t show up in the first race.  I’m thinking it’s because John is fitter and he was in the big ring in a spot he wasn’t last time.  If only he hadn’t trained at all this might not have happened.

2012 Results:  Newton’s Revenge – 7 July

John took first place in his age group and fifth place overall!  He had a time of 1:04:44.  Pretty astounding – particularly considering that he’s been focused on endurance events all season; as far as I know this was his first focused hill climb of the year.

John’s wife, Pamela Blalock took 16th in a very tough women’s field, shaving 5-minutes off her previous best.

The Bike:  Axiom SLX

We wanted to have this set up be fairly standard – to show how capable is a “normal” Seven.  We’ve used only readily available parts and nothing particularly light.  Still, the bike will come in at around 14.5 lbs.   Final weight TBD.

Specifications on Bike #1 – The Bike for Newton’s Revenge

FrameSeven Cycles Axiom SLX
ForkSeven Cycles custom carbon
KitSRAM Red 2012
WheelsZip 202 tubular
PedalsShimano SPD
Special detailsNothing special other than removing the rear brake - it's not really necessary on this type of climb.
Bike weightEstimated at 14 lbs, 6 ounces. This includes pedals and bottle cage.

Project timeline in reverse – it’s a very short timeline because we only have three days to get the bike ready:

July 3 – Tuesday  |  We’ve made a few final adjustments to the bike:  compact crank, positional adjustments, removed the rear brake.  Right now the bike is weighing in at 14 lbs 2 ounces.  Once the proper wheels are on the bike I think we’re looking at about 14 lbs 8 ounces for the climbing weight – including pedals and bottle cage.  I think this is cool because were not using anything unusual – no “lightweight” parts on the bike.  If we pushed on special parts – saddle, seat post, bars, stem, and a couple other parts – we could easily get to sub-13 lbs.  One last tune up and John’s going for a test ride this evening.

Dan Vaillancourt came up with a slick way to have the rear brake lever feel normal even though there’s no brake feedback.

John did a quick test ride and the bike didn’t fall apart so I guess he’s going to ride it on Saturday.

July 2 – Monday  |  Getting the bike prepped.  Pulling together the parts:  different crank, chain rings, rear derailleur, changing the stem and cables, and a few other details.  Nothing to major.

We’re keeping both rings on the front because there’s a slight downhill at the beginning of the race where a 50t large ring will come in handy.

June 30 – Saturday  |  John and I talked today about which bike might be most appropriate for the Washington climb.  We decided on the Axiom SLX because it is Seven’s true climbing bike.  We also looked at the 622 but felt, for a few reasons, the Axiom SLX would be better.  We’re spec’ing a SRAM Red 2012 kit because it’s the lightest kit on the market.  John will be riding Zipp 202 tubular wheels – for obvious reasons.  This is going to be a great “Speed” project.

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