The Fastest Fat Chances in the World

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Crested Butte Colorado. This was the bike I did Mount Washington on. It is shown with a different fork as the original Fat Chance fork was replaced after cracking on the crown.

Today I spotted this photo in a vintage mtb group that I’m a part of and it struck me, turns out this bike was ridden in an even better story.

The photo is from Mark Forman and was accompanied in the post by the following article from Fat Tire Flyer which I have transcribed below. It is my privilege to share this with you. In fact helping to shine a light on the early days of MTB’ing has become one of the major joys of this blog. I hope you enjoy it and thanks to Mark for allowing me to share.

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Ed Note:
We don’t necessarily recommend the activity that takes place in the following narrative, but we would be remiss in our journalistic duties if we didn’t run it by our readers. After all, as the universal cop out goes, we don’t make the news, we just report it.

The Fastest Fat Chances in the World
by Mark Forman

Mountain bikers are crazy. One of the most dangerous things they do is downhill bombing, especially when that hill drops 4700 vertical feet in a little over seven and a half miles on the side of Mount Washington in New Hampshire. Mount Washington has the worst weather on earth! The highest winds ever recorded were at the summit, 231 mph. The temperature can be below freezing any time of the year, and fog covers the peak about 300 days of the year. Fortunately, on the day of our ride, conditions were perfect.

The auto road, which is open during the summer months, is about twenty feet wide and surfaced with anything from dirt and gravel to a few good stretches of asphalt at the most critically steep sections. A single section at the summit is closed to tourists. This 24 percent section was our start.

To eliminate the possibility of any altercations with other vehicles or being blown over into the valley, we got an early morning start. At 7:00 a.m. on Sunday, August 11, 1985. Two Fat Chances prepared for the mission: bombing Mount Washington. Brakes adjusted, checked, and rechecked. Tights on, helmets on, goggles on. Some slow riding at first. Better check my Roller Cams. Okay, let’s do it.

Stopwatch on, over onto the first 24 percent slope. Brakes feel good. A left onto the first dirt section. Feels good, let’s up the speed to 40 or so. Here comes the first corner, down to twenty, instant 50 mph, lots of corners coming up. Lucky there is no wind, otherwise, forget it.

Pavement! My hands hurt! Oh well, gotta hang on, only six miles to go. Something’s buzzing. It goes away if I keep my front brake lever slightly on. I wonder what’s causing it.

A long straight, 50, 55, 60 mph. Star Wars! Very loud buzzing, can’t hear, ears popping multiple times. Vibration throws my chain, can’t look down! A corner! Another corner, this time pavement and dirt. A car! Slide, missed it, whew. My hands hurt. Gotta change position. Gravel! Didn’t even feel it. Almost terminal velocity now. I can see the bottom, about a mile to go, beginning to slow, the bottom stopwatch! Shake hands, Dan, made it. “Unbelievable, how fast?”
“Fourteen minutes, forty six seconds.”
“Unbelievable.”
As it turned out, both brakes and tires wore heavily. The rims on Dan Eisenberg’s bike heated to boiling and his Aztec pads burned into uselessness on his rear wheel. My Tricross front tire expanded in diameter and caused the loud buzz as the knobs struck the Roller Cam plate. It was quite a ride, 14:46 of living on the edge of sanity.

Mount Washington is not to be taken lightly. There have been many deaths on this mountain. Road bikes are not allowed, and generally it is impossible to ride down due to weather conditions. The cyclist here is always at his own risk.

 

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