The Mount Washington Auto Road, Pikes Peak, and Crazy Talk

Some friends got me thinking about the Pikes Peak race, which got me snooping around the Googles.  Which is where I found a reference to the oldest hillclimb race in the US.  Guess where.  The Mount Washington Auto Road.

Well, it seems they don’t run the race anymore, even though it got resurrected in 2011, (The Climb to the Clouds), they apparently have no plans to run it again, at least that they’re willing to talk about.  So how does this venerable race stack up to Pikes Peak?

Well, Pikes Peak is about 12.5 miles, and makes a climb of 4720′ vertical.  It now is paved from the top to the bottom.  The Mount Washington Auto Road is about 7.5 miles, and climbs 4618′.

It’s steeper.

It has an average grade of 11.6%, compared to the grade of Pikes Peak, at 7%.  Plus, it’s still unpaved for about a mile.  Here’s a pretty interesting description of the details, on the NH Tourguide site.

Now, here’s where it gets interesting.  On Sunday, September 16th, they have the Mount Washington Alternative Energy Day.  “Share your alternative energy vehicle at the Auto Road. All vehicles that meet the vehicle limitations and are alternatively-powered will be charged a reduced toll of $25, including passengers.”

Their vehicle requirements aside for a moment, what do I need to get the R5eII up that hill?  Based on some estimates on the Pikes Peak climb, I’d want around 4KWh to do that.  Now, the Auto Road is about 2/3 the distance, but the same climb, so, I’m not sure if that means I need 2/3 the batteries.  I’m certainly not racing, just trying to get up the hill, so, let’s say, for argument, I would think something around 4KWh would be fine.  If I’m running RC lipo, I don’t want to tap the pack too hard, so I think this may be OK as long as I don’t try to set any records.  I also can’t forget about the trip down.  Would my 1970s-vintage drum brakes be able to keep me from casting off into the puckies?  As far as the handling of the bike on the unpaved sections, being a sub-250lb bike with not-too aggressive tires and a serious steering damper, I think I’d do fine.  I’d definitely want to throw a big front fender on, though it is only a mile.

So.  Time for the Math.  A 30Ah pack at 74V is about 2.2KWh.  (Remember?  Ah x V = Wh,  Wh/1000 = KWh.)  So I’d need two packs.  OK.  Running the Turnigy hard-case 4s, that figures out to 5 modules of 6 5Ah hardcase packs, or 30 packs total, for one 30Ah pack.  60, for my 4.4KWh.  At around $23 each, that’s around $1400.  We’re looking at around 70lbs.

This is looking do-able.

Oh dear.



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