Pinkham Notch – NH Registration for the 44th annual Mt. Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb will open on Tuesday, February 1, at 8 a.m. Eastern Standard Time. Any cyclist wishing to ride in this grueling all-uphill race, which will take place this year on August 20, may register at www.bikereg.com/mwarhc.
Sponsored by Polartec, with additional support from international corporations as well as local businesses in the Mt. Washington Valley, the Mt. Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb is the primary annual fundraiser for the Tin Mountain Conservation Center in Albany, N.H. To pedal 7.6 miles up the Auto Road while battling Mt. Washington’s famously high winds, elite and amateur cyclists pay an entry fee of $350, from which all proceeds serve the environmental and educational mission of the conservation center.
Cyclists who register for the Hillclimb may also apply for the annual Practice Ride, which will take place on July 17. There is no additional fee for the practice ride, but the number of riders is limited to 300, and the ride is open only to riders who have registered for the Hillclimb. Registered participants will receive Practice Ride registration instructions via email. Further information about the race and practice ride is available at http://www.mwarbh.org/.
Also this year, riders entered in the Hillclimb are entitled to a half-price entry into the Mount Washington Century+, a spectacular non-competitive 109-mile ride around the Presidential Range in the White Mountains. An additional fund-raiser for Tin Mountain – and a popular complement to the Hillclimb, both for serious racers and for more recreational cyclists — the Century Ride is open to anyone. Cyclists wishing a shorter distance while enjoying most of the same scenery can complete a 44-mile or 88-mile version of the event. The regular entry fee for the Century+ is $100; cyclists who enter the Hillclimb will receive a coupon for 50 per cent off that fee. Information: http://www.tinmountain.org/mt-washington-century-ride-2/
The Mt. Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb attracts Olympians, hardcore bicycle road racers, mountain bikers, triathletes, all-around adventure athletes, tandem teams, and even the occasional unicyclist. They come for the opportunity to pedal up the Mount Washington Auto Road’s severe 12 percent grade to the 6288-foot summit of the highest mountain in the northeastern United States – an ascent described by professional cyclists as more arduous than the steepest climbs in the Tour de France. The first male and female finisher each win a prize of $1500. In addition, Cadence Wealth Management offers a premium of $750 to the first male and first female rider to reach the one-mile mark in the race (provided these same riders finish the race in under one hour 45 minutes).
Veterans of the Mt. Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb know how important the registration date is. Registration is first come, first served, and in recent years the field has usually filled to capacity – 600 riders – the same day that registration opens. This year many of those same riders, plus hopeful first-timers, will be poised at their computers early on February 1 in order to complete the on-line application immediately when registration opens.
Tin Mountain provides school programs that reach nearly 5,000 students, nature camps for over 300 children, a large series of community nature programs, classes, workshops, excursions and other lessons in the workings of the natural world. Entry fees for the Hillclimb provide crucial support for all these activities and may qualify as a tax deduction for most entrants. The balance of the entry fee covers the cost of substantial logistical support, food, commemorative shirt and other expenses involved in staging the race.
Junior riders – anyone under 20 years of age on race day – are eligible for free entry if they raise funds through donations to Tin Mountain in connection with their registration; four such riders are chosen each year.
Besides posing one of the greatest cycling challenges in North America, the Hillclimb is popular also because it is an open event, which means that amateur riders can compete along with professionals. Top professional riders in the Hillclimb in previous years have included world mountain bicycling champion Ned Overend, Olympic gold medalist Tinker Juarez, legendary French cycling star Jeannie Longo, former All-American runner-turned-cyclist Marti Shea, and the men’s course record-holder Tom Danielson (49:24), who in 2011 was the first American finisher in the Tour de France.
On race day, the elite riders in the field begin at 8:35 a.m. All other entrants will start in a series of waves at five-minute intervals. For the Practice Ride on July 17, all riders must begin the ascent by 6 a.m.
The size of the field for the Hillclimb is limited by the ability of the road crews and race officials to monitor the safety of all participants, and by the number of vehicles that can be parked at the summit to bring cyclists back down the hill after the race. In some years the winds have blown riders off their bikes on the upper slopes above the tree line; in others, rain, fog and general chill have made the experience all the more unforgettable.
Pre-registration for the Hillclimb has already begun for those riders who have competed in this race five or more times. So far, four dozen veterans of the Hillclimb have taken advantage of this opportunity.