The following day was spent roasting in the sun, chatting to lots of random people who were intrigued by the bikes, and fixing Ed’s piston.
He soon discovered that his piston really wasn’t in good shape, and that where the rings had been slapping around they’d scored a groove in the side.
We really weren’t sure how long it was going to last, but Ed decided to put the new rings in and hope for the best. A group of people nearby had been watching his progress, and one of them even gave him a lift up the road to get some tools. Just as Ed got his bike back together a lady called Tammy from the group came over and gave us $40 to get a good meal, another random act of kindness that was greatly appreciated.
After a quick cooling dip in the incredibly cold river; I jumped out as fast as I jumped in, we got our gear on and hit the road around 6pm. Once again the riding temperature was perfect, the road was lined with trees, and we got the occasional view out over a valley, all beautifully lush and green. We knew we weren’t going to get far before it got dark, but we though it was worth getting a few more miles under our belts. After stopping at a fast food outlet for a bite to eat, we started looking for a place to camp. We’d planned on wild camping but as every place we spotted had a private property sign, and being well aware that pretty much everyone has a gun, we ended up finding a private campsite and managed to get the price down.
I’m pleased we did, as in the morning we got chatting to four bikers from Massachusetts, who kindly invited us over for a tasty breakfast in the morning. They also helped us with our route, which we later found out was basically the same route we’d already been given, but it was good to hang out with them anyway.
By the time we’d packed up and stopped nattering it was already 2.30pm, and with an apparent forecast for rain we were keen to get on our way. We’d forgotten that it was Independence day until we reached the town of Gorham, which was rammed with people and had fairground rides and other stuff going on. It was far too busy and we really weren’t feeling it, so we fuelled up, grabbed a sandwich and headed south.
We didn’t get far though as we soon reached Mount Washington, the highest peak in the Northeastern United States at 6288ft. There’s a road that takes you all the way to the top, and despite Ed’s piston being on its last legs we decided we couldn’t ride past without having a go. It was funny when we arrived at the payment booth as they thought that they were mopeds and weren’t going to let us go up. Thankfully after reassuring them that we had gears, they charged us half the amount for some unknown reason and we were off on our way.
Lucky for us the speed limit on the road was only 20mph, but Ed’s poor little bike couldn’t even do that. I found myself in stitches riding behind him, as whenever he dropped down a gear it sounded like his bike was going to blow up. I don’t really know why I was finding it so funny but I was. The road was really winding and worked its way up through the trees, giving us occasional glimpses of beautiful views.
I kept thinking that something was wrong with my bike as I could smell this awful burning smell, but I soon discovered that it was everyone’s brakes as they were coming down in their cars. It was when we got above the tree line that it was really stunning, and as we crawled slowly up the road we had plenty of time to look out at the views, making sure to stay on the road as there were no guardrails and a VERY long drop down.
We eventually made it to the top 40 minutes later, after 4700 feet of climbing along 8 miles. I was amazed the little bikes had made it up there in one piece to be honest, they’d certainly done us proud.
We spent some time up the top, where we found the summit sign and got a good look at the views.
We also had a wander around the Tip Top House, which is a historic former hotel erected in 1853, and made from rock blasted from the mountainside.
We then checked out the visitor centre, and discovered that for nearly sixty-two years Mt Washington held the world record for the fastest wind speed ever recorded on the surface of the Earth. It was a whopping 231 miles per hour, and was recorded on the 12th of April 1934 by Mount Washington Observatory staff. Despite the record being toppled in 1996 by an unmanned instrument station in Barrow Island, Australia, with a new record of 253mph during Typhoon Olivia, the Mt Washington record still stands as the highest surface wind speed ever observed by man.
It was kicking out time at 6.45pm, but we had to address our front brakes before we made our descent. Mine just needed a bit of tweaking, but Ed decided to put new brake shoes on his which he’d been carrying around for months. Not only did it tick a job off the list but it also greatly reduced his chances of flying off the mountainside, which was the most important bit.
We were quite happy whizzing our way down, stopping for photos here and there, when back down in the trees Ed’s bike suddenly started smoking. ‘Oh no, not the piston!’ I thought. I instantly rode up alongside him to let him know and as I pulled in front he said ‘Your’s is smoking too!’ It turned out that it wasn’t the piston, it was our rear brakes!
Ed was quite chuffed as he’d never got C90 brakes smoking before, and we decided to wait 5 minutes or so to let them cool down. I had a spare bottle of water so Ed poured some on them to help the process, and they literally sizzled when the water hit them.
Once they’d cooled enough we continued our way down, and were soon spat out at the bottom in one piece. I was really pleased we’d ended up riding to the top, it was a fun little mini adventure and certainly worth half the money.