Newton’s Revenge

Newton sure had some revenge today as the racers climbed up into the fog and winds of 40 and 50 mph for Newton’s Revenge – A Bike Race up the Mt. Washington Auto Road. Although it was sunny at the base, Mt. Washington was brewing up a challenge for the cyclists at the summit.

I talked with Tim Mather, who is challenging himself to race every event the Mt. Washington Auto Road has to offer this summer. He calls it the Mt. Washington Auto Road Gravity Challenge. He raced the Climb to the Clouds two weeks ago and I asked him what he had done for training since then. He said he hadn’t done much hillclimbing but spent some time on his mountain bike. He told me it took about 10 days of preparation for Climb to the Clouds, so even before that race his fitness training was not top priority. He felt his gearing was exactly where he wanted it to be. When asked about the weather being cloudy and windy, he said temperature wise, it was perfect. He was seeded in the top notch category and figured he’d probably finish last. I asked if he had a finish time he was shooting for and he answered ” I’m not planning on doing well in all of these races but I’m going to make sure that I have fun.” The last time he climbed Mt. Washington on his bike was in 2007.  He said he’s going to try 12 Hours of Millstone.  With his cousin getting married that weekend right near the race venue, he figured he was going to mountain bike there anyways, so he might as well race. To add some fun, he’s going to race in the solo single speed category, yes that’s just one gear for all that racing. It adds simplicity because you don’t have to worry about shifting. His personal best for the Auto Road was 1 hour and 13 minutes, but he hadn’t done any climbing for training. It was because he was fit, having just completed an Ironman Triathlon, three weeks prior. An Ironman consists 2.4 miles of swimming, 112 miles of biking and a full marathon at 26.2 miles. Tim kicked Issac’s butt today, with a time of 1:21:54!

Since I climbed the Auto Road on a unicycle myself, becoming the first female to do so, I knew I had to talk to Eric Scheer. He gave me advice and support before my ascent. He began unicycling when he was 13 and took about 20 years off, then when asked by his wife what he wanted for Christmas he couldn’t help but answer with A UNICYCLE! His unicycle looks a lot different than mine, it has much lighter frame with higher clearance for different size wheels, longer cranks, a handle which he made himself with a bike fork and a computer telling him speed and distance traveled, along with many other readings. The handle is used for a few things; it helps keep him from twisting while keeping his balance, which I did a lot of during my climb. It helps counter balance a potential fall and when he needs to stand up he’s got something to hold onto. This is his third hillclimb on Mt. Washington so I asked him if he has changed his training at all. He has done more work on his body, weight training, and he started the P90x Series, but hasn’t done much hillclimbing. I also asked him if he had a finish time in mind. He looked at Jonthan Sauerbrey, his competition, and said with a laugh “Yea, 30 seconds faster than him!”

I was blown away when I found out that Jonathan had started unicycling in April, April of this year! That’s only three months ago! He did have an advantage though, he raced the Auto Road in 2008 with an impressive time of 1:11:45.

As I watched the cyclists warming up, I noticed a women preparing her hydration pack and noticed she had 2 other water bottles in her cages, which isn’t unusual, she just looked prepared. Her name is Veronica Bressem and when I asked if she wanted to answer a few questions she replied nervously, “I’ll try to answer what I can.” She is from Southwick, MA and it was her first time climbing the Auto Road. She said she was going to race with her husband Andrew, but he had fractured his wrist about two weeks ago, but she was determined to climb, it was on her bucket list. Her only goal-to finish.

I have always been at the base for Newton’s Revenge and this time I was able to ride with the media all the way to the top. It sure was a rush the second the cannon fired with the top notch class cranking it out past the Toll House and into the first hill. As we climbed, we leapfrogged the lead group and got some great shots.  Signs of encouragement were drawn on the pavement with chalk which I’m sure helped all racers.

. About six miles up, we entered the fog, which can play some crazy tricks on you even if you’re not racing. The cyclists were magically appearing in the fog as they rode by us while we tried to make out their number. We reached the summit with all the friends, family and spectators and waited in the erie fog. Many had cowbells and the only way we knew a cyclist was approaching the finish line was from the cheers and bells. The winds were in the 40′s, as was the temperature and the fog was whipping around us.

I give a lot of credit to all the racers to not only climb the worlds toughest hill but to do it these challenging conditions. -Meg

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