Pinkham Notch, NH—The day dawned with a downpour, but by the time of the start of the 45th Mount Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb on Saturday, August 19th, 2017, the skies had cleared the way to the 7.6 mile trek to the summit of Mount Washington.
Sometimes referred to as the toughest hill climb in the world, about 500 of the 635 registered cyclists, aged 14 to 80 years old pumped their way to the top, through filtered sunshine, undercast skies, fog and a clearing at the finish.
The top finishers were:
1.Phil Gaimon, 51:13, age 31
2.Eneas Frye, 54:53, age 41
3.Timothy Ahearn, 56:26, age 43
1. Aimee Vasse, 1:05:34, age 39
2. Stephanie Sydlik, 1:06:13, age 32
3. Andrea Myers,1:15:39, age 34
For overall results visit MtWashingtonAutoRoad.com.
Said Gaimon, who pulled ahead early in the race, “I haven’t been here in nine years. I forgot how hard this is and the clouds- how special this place is. It can be cruel, nasty, why do they make it so steep?,” he said grinning after winning the race. Gaimon adding he saves energy because he just knows how to feel while racing.
Said Vasse: “Stephanie was amazing competition. She led me mercilessly. She attacked the hill. I didn’t think I could hang, but at the 6.7 mile marker I got my second wind. It was very emotional for me.”
Some records were broken. Walter (Wally) Kurz 80 of Jackson, NH beat the record in his age category of 2:19:45 set by Bill Hawkes in 2002 by getting to the summit in 2:16:20.
“This was my first experience with this race. It was tougher than I anticipated. I got a leg cramp, but finished. This is quite a hill,” said Kurz who has run the hill during the Northeast Delta Dental Mount Washington Road Race eight or nine times.
There were some unusual participants including Charles Haskins riding a unicycle (2:08:28), and the tandem team of Charles and Margaret Blitzer, (2:11:50).
Racers were treated to a turkey dinner with all the fixings and gluten and vegan free selections from Hart’s Turkey Farm in Meredith, NH.
This year’s bike event sponsors include: Cadence Wealth Management, Quad Cycles, Bike Reg.Com, Destination Cycling, BKool, Pearl Izumi, MartiShea Coaching, AMC, Finish Line, and Mount Washington Valley Bicycling Club. The male and female winners each received $1500.
Proceeds benefit Tin Mountain Conservation Center, Albany, NH a 501 (c) 3 non-profit environmental education program that promotes an appreciation of the natural environment and responsible stewardship among children, adults, and families.
These individuals also raised money for Tin Mountain:
Larry Beck, $2000,
Jon Heydenreich, $1000
P.J. McQuade, $800.
Next year’s race will be the third Saturday in August.
Photos by Joe Viger Photography