37th Annual Mt. Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb

Phil Gaimon, of Tucker, Georgia, will return to the White Mountains of New Hampshire on August 15 to try to win the Mt. Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb for the second time in as many attempts. Given his experience in the past year as a new professional cyclist after outstanding performances as an amateur, and given his familiarity the ultra-steep Mt. Washington Auto Road, Gaimon is the likely favorite to repeat as Hillclimb winner this year. However, he will have to withstand challenges from Nico Toutenhoofd, the runnerup here last year, and by Colorado hillclimbing veteran Kevin Nicol.

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Registration opens, February 1, at 8 a.m.

Registration for the 37th annual Mt. Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb will open in less than two weeks – on, February 1, at precisely 8 a.m. Eastern Standard Time. Veterans of this 7.6-mile all-uphill bike ride know how important that registration hour is: Last year the field for this grueling race filled to capacity – 600 riders – within eleven minutes of when the race’s web site opened for registrations. This year many of those same riders, plus numerous other hopefuls, will be poised at their computers early on February 1 in order to complete the on-line application as rapidly as possible.

For more information and to register, visit www.mtwashingtonbicyclehillclimb.org. Riders can also enter at the Bikereg web site, www.bikereg.org. The Mt. Washington Bicycle Hillclimb site includes useful information about the Bikereg site as well.

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Field filled Friday morning & Waiting list and Newton’s Revenge (July 12) now open

Anyone wanting to ride a bicycle up the Mt. Washington Auto Road this summer has two choices: Get on the waiting list for the 36th annual Mt. Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb, to be held on August 16, and hope someone will give up one of the places in the field; or sign up for Newton’s Revenge, the other race up the same road on July 12.

Regarded as the most difficult all-uphill bicycle race in the world, the Mt. Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb each year fills its entry list to capacity on February 1st, the day that registration officially opens. Thanks to on-line registration, it takes less than an hour before riders claim all 600 available places.

This year the race filled in just eleven minutes. That is less than half the time it took in 2007 for eager cyclists, sitting at their keyboards in the dead of winter, to click their way into this grueling 7.6-mile race to the summit of the highest peak in the northeastern United States.

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Field of 600 will make a steeper climb than the Tour de France

As the Tour de France concludes, cyclists in North America are gearing down ” ‘way down ” for next month’s Mt. Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb. The race, a 7.6-mile ascent to the summit of the highest peak in the northeastern United States, is steeper, and widely regarded as more grueling, than the famous climb up the Alpe d’Huez in the mountains of eastern France. On August 16, 600 riders will battle the Auto Road’s 12 percent grade and the unpredictable Mt. Washington weather, as they grind their way to the 6288-foot summit.

For 385 of those riders, the satisfaction of reaching the top of Mt. Washington will be a year overdue. These riders all were entered in the Hillclimb that was to be held a year ago, but the 2007 race was canceled by extremely inclement weather, including severe winds, precipitation and ice on the course – prohibitively unsafe conditions. These cyclists’ one consolation was the knowledge that they would get priority in applying to enter the Hillclimb in 2008.

The Hillclimb’s popularity speaks for itself. Registration each year opens on line at 6 a.m. on February 1, and within minutes the field is filled to its 600-rider capacity. The size of the field is limited by the ability of the road crews and race officials to monitor the safety of all participants, and by the number of vehicles that can be parked at the summit to bring cyclists back down the hill after the race.

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Later starting time, same four-wave start, for this year’s race.

After years of getting up before dawn to prepare themselves for the 7.6-mile grind up the Mt. Washington Auto Road, the cyclists competing in the 36th installment of the Mt. Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb will get an extra hour of sleep – or an extra hour of warmup time, depending on their preference  before the start of this year’s race.

The 2008 Mt. Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb will start this Saturday at 8:40 a.m., when the first wave of cyclists begins the 4650-foot ascent of the highest peak in the Northeast. Following this elite group -the race’s official name for them is Top Notch – three successive waves of other riders, including tandem bicycles and older and younger competitors, will follow at five-minute intervals.

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WEATHER CANCELS BIKE RACE – AGAIN.

Sleet, rime ice, 72-mph. gusts of wind and temperatures hovering around freezing conspired this morning to cancel the 35th annual Mt. Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb. Six hundred disappointed cyclists received that news at 7 a.m., as they stood in the shelter of a large tent at the base of the storied Auto Road and reluctantly acknowledged that it was unsafe to expose either the would-be competitors or the race’s support crew to such conditions.

The cyclists had come from all over New England and from as far away as the West Coast for the chance to race the 7.6 miles to Mt. Washington’s summit, in what is called, all too aptly, “the world’s toughest hillclimb.” Now they’ll wait another year for the chance to test their legs and their machines against the 12 percent grade, the 4650 feet of altitude gain, and the always blustery Mt. Washington winds.

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