Yes. That is Pamela at the finish line for Mt
Apparently the photographer at the top wasn't
so impressed with John!
This all started when Alan, a colleague of our friend Roy, talked
to him about doing Mt Washington on tandem. So then Roy's wife,
our dear friend, Susan, decides to challenge John and me to beat
Roy and Alan. Isn't it nice that she's such a supportive spouse.
Eventually John convinced me it would be less painful than doing
the "100 times longer" Boston-Montreal-Boston, which
is held on the same weekend in August, and the only sleep deprivation
for Mt. Washington would come from rising at 6 AM back in February
to register online before it filled in less than 4 hours. The
fees were about the same for these two competing events (held
on the same weekend), although, the "per mile" cost
was a bit more for Mt Washington than BMB. Given all that, we
opted for the shorter ride and the friendly competition.
We planned a trip to the Dolomites in July to remind ourselves
how long hard climbs felt, while touring on a heavy loaded tandem.
Then we came home, dusted the cobwebs off the Robusta (the lightweight
tandem), stripped it bare of non-essential stuff (although the
bell was still considered essential), and headed north. (OK, there
was a few weeks of time in between)
There were 8 tandems in total, one of which had won before and
placed second in another visit. They've also done the Co-Motion
stage race a bunch, so we'll just call them pros! They were on
a lightweight Calfee with some serious special event wheels -
but more on that later. The stoker's legs were so long, they came
up to my nose! Not that I was intimidated - well OK, I was. I
even thought of removing the bell... but I didn't.
We warmed up, dumped our stuff in our rental car
and headed over to the start line. The first group started at
7:40 AM. We were to start with the other tandems and single bike
riders over 45 at 7:55 AM. Darn there were lots of folks over
45. And they were all already lined up, so we started near the
back of our group. Fortunately John is very good at weaving through
bike traffic, but this tactical error still likely cost us a minute.
The bell came in handy for getting through traffic!
We slowly picked off 6 tandems and heaps of single bikes. Despite
the 5 minute gap to the next group, we never saw a gap - it was
just a continuous line of bikes all the way up - John calls this
Then I heard something I'd never heard before as one guy said,
"SHE's doing all the work back there!" The cool thing
about starting last was catching and passing riders (who I'm sure
were less than thrilled to have a tandem go by, but were still
very polite and encouraging.)
We used our 28/28 and 28/32 a lot, but did actually get into
the middle ring a few times. It rained heavily right before the
start and then drizzled for the first half of the race. The road
was slick. If we both stood, we lost rear traction/drive. John
stood to relieve the agony in his glutes a few times while I stayed
seated to keep the back wheel on the ground! Ah, I'm good for
something at least.
We got lots of cheers along the way from those solo riders we
passed and at some point the occasional spectator cheered and
told us we were second. Then someone told us that tandem up ahead
broke a spoke, and we should catch them! I put all my willpower
into having them break another! Not very sporting of me, eh?
Later someone said the gap was 30 seconds, and John didn't believe
it, but I said I had spotted them not too long ago on a straight-away.
When we finally reached another straight section, we saw them
off in the distance. They had to be a minute or more up on us.
And then they hit the after-burners and just disappeared up the
hill and into the fog.
I could tell we were nearing the finish because of the wall of
noise. Everyone was chanting "tandem" as we rounded
the corner before the 22% section, at least once they could see
we were on a tandem. The fog was so thick I could barely make
out John's head! Well I exaggerate, but I really could not
see any bike near us, nor could I tell where the road went. Thank
goodness I didn't have to steer, and John knew the way.
The advantage of the tandem on this section is the front wheel
won't lift up like on many singles, and we just powered up and
across the line.
We had a good ride, and as you can see from that first photo,
I was positively thrilled to get to the finish!
Then we heard the winning tandem (John Scheub and Kim Melloni)
had blown apart their rear wheel (must have been a 7.5 mile special
event version) and had to run across the finish line. Nothing
destroys the ego more than hearing that a crippled tandem beat
you! Fortunately for the ego I found out later it happened just
10 meters from the finish line. Actually, John and Kim are actually
very nice people, and I felt very bad for willing their wheel
I had said this was a once in a lifetime thing for me, and still
felt that way at the end. But Kim tried to persuade me to come
back, and worked on John further out of my earshot! She wants
more tandems and more competition, and my spell-casting on her
wheel didn't put her off at all. So amazingly before we'd even
had dinner, we started talking about the possibility of next year.
BTW, to finish the story, the 3rd place tandem was 15 minutes
behind us, followed closely by Roy and Alan, the guys we had
to beat. Poor Roy, beat by two skirts! But he's not deterred.
As Susan was driving us down the mountain, they talked quite a
bit about riding their new triplet up next year! I may have to
work harder than Susan on that challenge!