Cogburn and Shea Dominate 40th Bicycle Hillclimb

Pinkham Notch, N.H. – August 18, 2012

Six weeks ago, M.I.T. graduate student Cameron Cogburn and former Boston University distance runner Marti Shea were the runaway winners of Newton’s Revenge, the annual July bicycle race up the Mt. Washington Auto Road in New Hampshire.  Today Cogburn and Shea duplicated that performance by winning the Mt. Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb, a race on the same 7.6-mile all-uphill course against a much larger field of competitors.

Cogburn, 26, a former pro rider who returned to amateur cycling classification when he began graduate school in astrophysics, paced himself carefully from the start. For two miles he trailed Leroy Popowski of Colorado Springs, Colo., Phil Wong of Beverly, Mass., and former U.S. mountain biking champion Tinker Juarez of Whittier, Calif., but when he overtook them, they had  no chance of clinging to his wheel. He pedaled to the 6288-foot Mt. Washington summit in 52 minutes 28 seconds to claim the winner’s $1500 prize.

“I’m a good pacer naturally,” said Cogburn after the race. “Those guys went out super-hard, and I knew they couldn’t hold it.”

At two and a half miles, Cogburn caught Juarez and Popowski. At three he was all alone in front and widening the gap, looking calm and comfortable. Popowski, who was meeting the Auto Road and its 12 percent average grade for the first time, eventually took second in 53:47 — fast enough to have won any of the past four Hillclimbs, but not today’s.

While 2012 is Cogburn’s first year of racing on Mt. Washington, Shea practically owns the Auto Road. The 49-year-old former all-American distance runner from Manchester, N.H., has won Newton’s Revenge all six years it has been held, and today’s win is her third in a row at the Hillclimb. Her time today – one hour 3 minutes 14 seconds – is her personal best for the course and the second-fastest finish ever by a woman on the Auto Road.

French cycling legend Jeannie Longo set the women’s course record, 58:14, in 2000. Only Tom Danielson, a Tour de France-level American professional rider who set the men’s course record of 49:24 in 2002, claims faster times here than Cogburn’s.

Shea, who now lives in Marblehead, Mass., was riding aggressively from the start. “When we when through four miles, I said ‘Oh no!’ because we were going so fast. But we held it. And it was one of the best days I’ve had here with the weather – cool but no wind. Normally here, we have hot weather or else it’s cold but there’s a lot of wind.”

The only other woman to break an hour and ten minutes was Shea’s fellow veteran Sue Schlatter, of Ottawa, Canada. Schlatter, who in earlier years could match Shea’s times, had no chance today, settling for second in 1:06:13.

Wong, the runnerup in this race in 2003 and 2004, finished fourth today, in a personal best of 54:12. The 51-year-old veteran and former Olympian Juarez, also a two-time Mt. Washington runnerup, was fifth, in his fastest-ever time (55:10).

While most of the top finishers started the race in the first wave of riders, Peter Hurst, of Norwalk, Conn., started in the second wave, five minutes later, and so was not among the early leaders. He was the eighth rider to cross the finish line, but his net time – 54:03 — was five minutes faster than the clock showed, and he edged Wong for third.

Nearly all the riders benefited from the cool, windless air. A record seven riders broke the one-hour barrier, including three from Colorado – Popowski, Chris Carr (sixth in 56:16) and Mark Schwab (seventh in 58:36).

“It’s a good race,” said Popowski. “We’re used to races that start at 6000 feet – but this is a lot steeper (than the Rockies).”

Among the most-watched competitors, the only ones who rode more slowly than they had earlier this summer in Newton’s Revenge were the ebullient 13-year-old cycling marvel Jonah Thompson, of Albuquerque, N.M., and longtime top-ten finisher John Bayley of Watertown, Mass.

“I woke up this morning with the sniffles,” said Thompson. “I’m kinda bummed. It was hard to breathe, sometimes. But the race went well anyway.”  Thompson, who first raced up Mt. Washington at the age of nine, finished today in 1:22:39, or better than 75 percent of the field of 600 riders.

Bayley was riding as usual among the leaders until the fifth mile, when he tried to shift to his lowest gear and his bicycle’s derailleur broke. Gamely he ran onward, in stiff, cleated cycling shoes, pushing his bike the remaining two and a half miles to the finish in 1:19:40.

Inaugurated in 1973, the Mt. Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb is regarded by professional cyclists as more difficult than the fabled Alpe d’Huez in the Tour de France. It serves each year as the primary fundraising event for the Tin Mountain Conservation Center in Albany, N.H. The center runs school programs that reach 5000 students, nature camps for more than 300 children, community nature programs and other educational and environmental events in the Mt. Washington region.

TOP TEN MEN:

1.  Cameron Cogburn, 26, Cambridge, Mass., 52:28
2.  Leroy Poposki, 39, Colorado Springs, Colo., 53:47
3.  Peter Hurst, 27, Norwalk, Conn., 54:03
4.  Philip Wong, 32, Beverly, Mass., 54:12
5.  David (“Tinker”) Juarez, 51, Whittier, Calif., 55:10
6.  Chris Carr, 29, Golden, Colo., 56:16
7.  Mark Schwab, 38, Boulder, Colo., 58:36
8.  Chad Young, 17, Newmarket, N.H., 1:00:02   [one hour and two seconds]
9.  Chris Yura, 33, Bryn Mawr, Pa., 1:00:36
10.  Timothy Ahearn, 37, Woodstock, Conn., 1:00:50.

TOP TEN WOMEN:

1.  Marti Shea, 49, Marblehead, Mass., 1:03:14
2.  Sue Schlatter, 49, Ottawa, Ontario, 1:06:13
3.  Silke Wunderwald, 41, Hopkinton, R.I., 1:10:47
4.  Mary Hynes Johanson, 57, Belmont, Mass., 1:17:35
5.  Cristine Lamoureux, 46, Montreal, Quebec, 1:19:44
6.  Rachel Chambers, 17, Boston, Conn., 1:20:52
7.  Margaret Thompson, 58, Clinton, N.Y., 1:21:02
8.  Dominique Codere, 54, Montreal, Quebec, 1:23:21
9.  Jeannie Allyson, 53, Durham, N.H. 1:23:24
10.  Cynthia Coffin, 48, Center Harbor, N.H., 1:24:13.

Veteran mountain bikers Overend and Juarez dominate youngsters. Marti Shea wins her seventh Mt. Washington ascent.

Pinkham Notch, N.H. – August 20, 2011

Ned Overend of Durango, Colorado, celebrated his 56th birthday today with beautiful weather, lots of exercise, a $1000 prize, and one more reminder to the cycling world that age has taken away very little of this former world champion’s strength or stamina. Less than two miles up the dizzying 7.6-mile road to the summit of the highest peak in the northeastern U.S., Overend pedaled away from his two closest pursuers. Extending his lead continuously, he won the 39th annual Mt. Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb in 55 minutes three seconds.

As if Overend’s age weren’t enough to make the point, the runnerup a minute later was Tinker Juarez of Whittier, California, himself 50 years old. Like Overend, Juarez, who clocked 56:14 for today’s ride up the Mt. Washington Auto Road, is a three-decade veteran of mountain and off-road bicycling competitions at the international level. Together, the two veterans left the 20-, 30- and 40-somethings behind them to sort out the rest of the top finishing places.

The women’s race similarly demonstrated the value of experience and stamina over youthful ambition, as 48-year-old Marti Shea, of Marblehead, Massachusetts, won her seventh bike race up Mt. Washington. Earlier this summer Shea had already won Newton’s Revenge, the other cycling race up the same road, in her personal best time for the climb, one hour four minutes 12 seconds. Today she finished in exactly the same time, more than six minutes ahead of Kristen Gohr of Reading, Mass. Gohr, 40, clocked 1:10:39.

“It’s good to win,” said Overend as he cooled off at the summit. “I wanted to win, and I wouldn’t travel this far for it if I didn’t think I had a chance. Comparing past times with the others, I figured I should be the favorite, but I’m not getting any younger!”

Overend, who won the inaugural World Mountain Biking Championship in 1990 and won the U.S. national off-road biking championship six times between 1986 and 1992, added that he tried to ride today’s race as a time trial, concentrating more on his own performance than on his position relative to others. “But I did look back to see where Tinker was. If you’re fading, a 30-second lead on Tinker is nothing.”

Following Juarez, just as he did in 2010, was Timothy Ahearn of Woodstock, Conn. “It’s pretty impressive what (Ned and Tinker) can do,” said Ahearn. “I had hallucinations of staying with Ned for two miles, but that was crazy!” Ahearn’s third-place time was 58:22.

This was Ned Overend’s first Mt. Washington victory in four attempts here. In 2005 he finished fourth, narrowly edged by two younger pros while all three trailed former Tour de France star Tyler Hamilton. He finished second behind Hamilton in 2006, and then, by just two second, behind rising pro Phil Gaimon in 2009.

Juarez took the runnerup’s place on the podium for the second time in a row, having been beaten last year only by Boulder, Colo., rider Nico Toutenhoofd. This year, while Toutenhoofd returned less well trained and finished behind several other of the top riders, Juarez beat Toutenhoofd’s 2010 time.

“I had more confidence today,” said Juarez. “I knew what to expect. When Ned pulled away, though, I knew he was going to take it. Once you get a decent gap here, it’s hard for anyone to make it up on you. I love this climb!”

Shea, who today defended the Hillclimb title she won for the first time in 2010, exhibited even more confidence. “I tell myself I will not lose here,” she said afterward. “I’m on the line, I’m ready to go. Watch it!”

Besides her two Hillclimb wins, Shea has won Newton’s Revenge in each of the five years in which it has been contested. In each race, she has ridden among the first male riders and enjoyed being able to pace herself with them. “I love riding with the guys,” she said, “because they make me feel that I can go harder.”

Excited by the win, Shea reflected on the possibility of eventually breaking the women’s course record of 58:14, set in 2000 by French cycling star Jeannie Longo. “Today I was on record pace for four miles,” she observed. “I just have to figure out how to keep it up for seven and a half!”

The men’s Mt. Washington record is beyond nearly anyone’s reach. It is 49:24, set in 2002 by Tom Danielson, who this summer was the first American finisher overall in the Tour de France.

In all, 600 riders competed in the race. Overend and Shea each won $1000 for first place. All proceeds of the Hillclimb benefit the Tin Mountain Conservation Center in Albany, N.H.

TOP FINISHERS:
Men:
1. Ned Overend, 54, Durango, Colo., 55:03
2. Tinker Juarez, 50, Whittier, Calif., 56:14
3. Timothy Ahearn, 36, Woodstock, Conn., 58:22
4. Chris Yura, 32, Philadelphia, Pa., 1:00:22 [NOTE: THIS IS NOT 1:22, BUT ONE HOUR AND 22 SECONDS]
5. Chris Hillier, 25, Etna, N.H., 1:01:30
6. Robert Douglas, 45, Honeoye Falls, N.Y., 1:01:58
7. Peter Ostroski, 22, Intervale, N.H., 1:02:09

Women:
1. Marti Shea, 48, Marblehead, Mass., 1:04:12
2. Kristen Gohr, 40, Reading, Mass., 1:10:39
3. Sari Anderson, 32, Carbondale, Colo., 1:17:20
4. Liz Feeney, 48, Philadelphia, Pa., 1:17:48
5. Dominique Codere, 52, Montreal, Quebec, 1:18:55
6. Cristine Lamoureux, 45, Montreal, Quebec, 1:22:40
7. Heather Norris, 36, Westhampton, Mass., 1:23:40

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