Pinkham Notch, N.H. – Up for a mighty mountain challenge? Ready to tackle the bicycling Beast of the East?
The Mt. Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb is looking for a few good bicyclists willing to take on the grueling 7.6-mile journey to the 6,288-foot summit of the highest peak in the Northeast. Weather conditions to be determined.
Actually the weather may have already played a bit of a role in this year’s race. The field for the Hillclimb did not fill as quickly as usual, likely at least in part to a snowy and extended winter that wreaked havoc with the training regimen of many bicyclists. The good news is an opportunity has been created for people to jump into the popular race now.
A limited number of openings remain for the 43rd edition of the Mt. Washington Auto Road Hillclimb, which is set for Saturday, Aug. 15. The field is capped at just over 600 riders. Limits on the number of riders are necessary to allow road crews and race officials to monitor the safety of all participants and also by the number of vehicles that can be parked at the summit to bring bicyclists back down from the peak after the race.
An exciting new addition to the Hillclimb this year is a race within the race: The Cadence Wealth Management $750 prime will present that amount to the first male and female rider reaching the one-mile mark of the race, as long as the rider finishes the race in less than an hour and 30 minutes. The top male and female finisher in the race each earns a $1,500 prize and a $5,000 is awarded to a racer setting a new course record.
The Hillclimb is the oldest of two bicycle races up the Mt. Washington Auto Road each summer.
Newton’s Revenge, scheduled for July 11 this year, was created in 2006 to meet the demand of racers who were unable to get into the Mt. Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb.
Both races attract a topnotch field of amateur and professional riders, cover the same 7.6-mile route, have an associated practice ride (the cost of which is included in the respective registration) and are the exclusive opportunities to climb the historic Mt. Washington Auto Road via bicycle. The Newton’s Revenge practice ride is scheduled for June 14, and the Hillclimb practice ride is scheduled for July 19.
John Kronborg Ebsen of Denmark beat two-time defending champion Cameron Cogburn of Cambridge, Mass., to win his first Mt. Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb in his initial look at the course last year. Ebsen finished in a time of 52 minutes and 53 seconds, almost a minute in front of Cogburn’s 53:50. The first nine racers finished in under an hour.
Marti Shea of Marblehead, Mass., turned in a time of 1:06:01 to win a record fourth women’s title in 2014. Silke Wunderwald of Hopkinton, R.I., was second in 1:13:55 and Stefanie Sydlik of Cambridge, Mass., was third in 1:16:39.
The men’s and women’s records for the 7.6-mile trek up the hill – which can be set in either the Hillclimb or Newton’s Revenge – belongs to Tom Danielson and Jeannie Longo. Danielson, the top American in the Tour de France in 2011, set the overall mark at 49 minutes 24 seconds in 2002. Longo, the legendary French racer, established the women’s record of 58:14 in 2000.
Riders may register for this year’s Mt. Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb at https://www.bikereg.com/mwarhc. Registration is open for Newton’s Revenge at http://newtonsrevenge.com/race-details/registration/. More information on the Hillclimb, Newton’s Revenge or any of the other myriad events scheduled for the upcoming season at the Mt. Washington Auto Road is available at http://mtwashingtonautoroad.com/events/.
The Mt. Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb is the primary annual fundraising event for the Tin Mountain Conservation Center, an educational non-profit organization in Albany, N.H. Tin Mountain offers classes, workshops, excursions and other lessons in the working of the natural world. Most of the $350 entry fee for the race goes to support environmental programs through Tin Mountain. The rest covers the cost of substantial logistical support, commemorative shirt and other expenses associated with staging the event. Most of the cost of registration is tax deductible and some costs may be offset by fundraising. More information is available at www.tinmtn.org.
The Mt. Washington Auto Road begins at the base of the mountain on Route 16 north of Pinkham Notch and climbs to the 6288-foot summit at an average grade of 12 percent and a net altitude gain of 4650 feet. The riders battle not only each other but the sheer force of gravity and Mt. Washington’s famously severe winds and unpredictable weather conditions