By Donna Marie Dolan
GORHAM — This Saturday, Aug. 19, approximately 600 cyclists will compete in various categories of the 45th Mt. Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb.
The Mt. Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb, according to The VeloNews is the “ride of a lifetime.” Known as the toughest hill climb in the world, this 7.6-mile uphill race to the summit of the highest peak in the northeastern United States is the biggest annual fundraiser for the Tin Mountain Conservation Center. In this event, up to 635 elite professional and amateur cyclists will have the chance to cycle their personal best.
“Look how steep that is. It’s amazing. You don’t realize that when you’re going up it. It’s such a privilege to ride this road,” Eneas Freyre said as he watched riders pass the finish line after he had won the 2015 Mt. Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb with an impressive 53-minute ascent. Freyre took advantage of that privilege again in 2016, and cycled to the top in a crushing 52:10 minute ride, earning him the title of overall male winner for the second year in a row.
The top riders in this year’s field include: defending male overall champion Eneas Freyre, 41 of Norwalk, Conn., 2015 (53:00) and 2016 (52:10); and Victoria DiSavino of Buffalo, N.Y., 2016 Mt Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb, female champion overall (1:07:32); as well as, Aimee Vasse of Somerville, Mass., former three-time female champion of the Mt Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb. Phil Gaimon, a former American professional road racing cyclist and popular figure on his own YouTube.com series, is also a rider of note.
Phil Gaimon, a former American professional road racing cyclist and popular figure on his own YouTube.com series, is also a rider of note.
The fastest female and male rider to the one-mile mark will receive $750 thanks to Cadence Wealth Management. Tin Mountain Conservation Center awards a $1,500 cash prize for the overall male and female winner; and $5,000 for the all-time record holder. The male record was set in 2002 at 49:24 and female record set in 2000 at 58:14.
Marti Shea and Joe Tonon, a husband and wife team, from Destination Cycling will be the event's announcers. For years, Shea dominated the women’s field at Mount Washington. She has won the Hillclimb four times in (2010-2012 and 2014) and was affectionately named the Queen of the Mountain.
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, MT Washington Cycling Club and the local media.
For the privilege of pedaling up the unrelenting grades, cyclists in the Hillclimb pay an entry fee and have the opportunity to raise pledges, which in turn supports Tin Mountain’s great work promoting an appreciation for the natural world while instilling the bedrock principles of sound stewardship and sustainable lifestyles. Last year’s top Tin Mountain Conservation Center pledge raisers were Jonah Thompson ($4,615), Lawrence Beck ($1,100) and Jon Heydenrich, ($1,228).
Tin Mountain staff and trustees and over 100 volunteers, including Mt. Washington Valley Ham radio operators, help make this event possible. All riders and volunteers will be treated to a fabulous lunch thanks to Hart’s Turkey Farm.