July 4, 2014 – PINKHAM NOTCH, N.H. Marti Shea of Marblehead, Mass., has competed six times in Newton’s Revenge, a 7.6-mile bicycle race up the Mt. Washington Auto Road in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, and six times she has won. Cameron Cogburn of Arlington, Mass., has raced in Newton’s Revenge just once, in 2012, when he won the men’s division of this all-uphill race handily. Having each been absent from the race in 2013, Shea and Cogburn will return to try to keep their undefeated records intact when the 2014 Newton’s Revenge hits the Auto Road on Saturday, July 12. The first riders of the day take off at 8:40 a.m.
Newton’s Revenge is the sibling race to the Mt. Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb, which is contested each August. The 41st Hillclimb is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 16. In case severe weather should make the course unmanageable on race day, the weather postponement date for each race is the next day: Sunday, July 13 for Newton’s Revenge and Sunday, Aug. 17 for the Mt. Washington Auto Road Hillclimb.
The entry fee for Newton’s Revenge is $300, of which a portion supports the activities of the Mt. Washington Valley Bicycling Club. Riders who are already registered for the Hillclimb may enter Newton’s Revenge for $150. On-line registration for Newton’s Revenge closes at noon on July 10, but last-minute entrants can still register in person on Friday evening, July 11, at the Mt. Washington Auto Road. Registration for the Hillclimb is closed. Since winning the 2012 Newton’s Revenge, Cogburn, now 28, went on to win the Mt. Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb the following month. He missed Newton’s Revenge in 2013 but then successfully defended his Hillclimb title later last summer by riding up the Auto Road in the second-fastest time ever recorded on this course, 50 minutes 48 seconds. An unabashed fan of these steep bicycle challenges up the Auto Road, he said recently of Mt. Washington, “It’s in a league of its own,” he said. “Definitely, there’s nothing like it. It’s basically as pure an athletic race as it gets, I think.”
Besides having won Newton’s Revenge six times, Shea, now 51, won the Hillclimb three straight years from 2010 to 2012. In her 2012 Hillclimb victory, she put up her best time ever – and the second best of any woman ever on the mountain, 1:03:14. Jeannie Longo of France holds the women’s record of 58:14, which she set in 2000.
Coaching and bicycle tour guiding duties in Europe kept Shea away from the Mt. Washington races in 2013. This year she is entered in both races.
Last year’s Newton Revenge winners, Lea Davison of Jericho, Vt., and Dereck Treadwell of Topsham, Maine, have not entered this year. However, Silke Wunderwald, 42, of Hopkinton, R.I., and Eric Follen, 39, of Sanford, Maine, will be among those looking to challenge Shea and Cogburn.
Wunderwald won the Mt. Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb last year in a time of 1:09:56. Follen turned in a 58:18 in Newton’s Revenge to finish four seconds behind Treadwell.
Cogburn plans to take a shot at the Mt. Washington record – which can be set in either Newton’s Revenge or the Hillclimb – held by Tour de France racer Tom Danielson of East Lyme, Conn. Danielson conquered the Hillclimb in 2002 in a time of 49 minutes, 24 seconds.
Cogburn has improved his times on the mountain by large chunks each time out. He won Newton’s Revenge in 55:29 in his 2012 debut, clocked 52:28 for the Hillclimb the next month, and made the ascent in 50:48 in the Hillclimb last year.
Cogburn was off his bike for the first two weeks of June because of tendinitis and is hoping that doesn’t affect his shot at a win or the record.
“The weather has to cooperate, too,” he said. Mt. Washington’s summit is famous for high winds, clouds and drastic temperature drops.
Record or no record, Cogburn, a professional racer with Team Smartstop who is taking a break from his PhD studies at MIT, loves the challenge of the races up the Mt. Washington Auto Road.
“I always look forward to it,” he said. “I would say it’s the hardest hour, or however long it takes you to go up it, possible. From a racing perspective, it’s perhaps the quintessential climb. It’s so steep and so long. If you go over your limit, you can crack.”
Going out too hard, too early, can be a problem.
“Basically, you go over your lactic threshold for too long, you’re done,” Cogburn said. “On the perfect ride up there, you’re right on the edge, one you know you can hold for 50 minutes or more. You’re kind of playing a game of chicken with yourself. You can have a perfect ride, but it’s very hard. You don’t want to go over that edge. You’ve really got to be focused.”
One of the most focused cyclists in the field will be 15-year-old Mt. Washington veteran Jonah Thompson of Albuquerque, N.M., who was nine years old the first time he competed in this race. Thompson finished last year’s Newton’s Revenge in 1:15:25, placing 23rd overall in the field of 170 finishers.
Bicycle racing began on Mt. Washington in 1973 with the Mount Washington Invitational Hillclimb sanctioned by the Amateur Bicycle League of America. In 2006, responding to the excess demand for entry to the Hillclimb, the Mt. Washington Auto Road company created Newton’s Revenge as an additional bike race on the same course. While the newer race precedes the Hillclimb by several weeks, registration for Newton’s Revenge opens only after the Hillclimb has reached its capacity of 600 riders.
In 2007, the Mt. Washington Auto Road management and race organizers were forced to cancel that year’s Newton’s Revenge on account of horrible weather. Fog, severe winds gusting to 72 mph. and temperatures hovering around freezing hammered the mountain on race day morning, and the following day’s weather was just as bad. In an impressive display of bad luck, nearly identical conditions the weekend of the Hillclimb canceled that race as well. Since then, both races have taken place as scheduled.
The Mt. Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb and Newton’s Revenge are two of ten events in the Bike Up the Mountain Point Series, familiarly known as B.U.M.P.S. The series includes Mt. Ascutney in Vermont, Mt. Greylock in Massachusetts, Whiteface Mountain in New York State, and other uphill races. For further information see www.hillclimbseries.com.