PINKHAM NOTCH, N.H. — Well-trained cyclists possessed by a last-minute desire to pedal up the historic Mt. Washington Auto Road this Saturday can still sign up for the opportunity. The annual Mt. Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb is accepting additional entrants online at www.bikereg.com/mwarbh or in person at the base of the Auto Road on Friday.
Now in its 47th year, the Hillclimb is the chief annual fundraising event for the Tin Mountain Conservation Center in Albany, N.H., which provides environmental and recreational education for children, schools and families in communities in the White Mountains and the Mt. Washington Valley. A 7.6-mile ascent of the highest peak in the northeastern United States, the race attracts hardcore amateur cyclists, aspiring professional riders, mountain bikers, triathletes, extreme sports enthusiasts and other cyclists with strong legs and determination.
This extraordinary event is possible thanks to the support of numerous sponsors. Among those with the most direct ties to the Hillclimb are Marti Shea Coaching and Destination Cycling. Herself a four-time winner of the Hillclimb, Marti Shea helps cyclists of many levels of ability improve their performance and overall fitness. With her husband, Joe Tonon, Shea also leads Destination Cycling, which organizes scenic and recreational group rides in Europe and North America.
Other cycling-specific sponsors are Eastside Bike Guides, who provide mobile bike repair; Downeast Bicycle Specialists; and Unicyle.com.
Four unicyclists will compete in Saturday's race.
A new sponsor this year is State Bicycle Company, manufacturers of fixed-gear bikes - bicycles of light weight (because they have just one rear chain sprocket and no shifting apparatus) that do not coast but must be pedaled constantly. State Bicycle Company will award a $500 prize, plus a $250 gift card, to the first finisher on a fixed-gear bike.
BikeReg.com maintains the registration website for the Hillclimb. The White Mountain Amateur Radio Club provides communication support during the race, enabling the finish line announcer to track the race's leaders and be aware of any riders needing assistance.
Other sponsors include the Appalachian Mountain Club, the Sap Hound Maple Company, Wingate Wealth Advisors, the Coca Cola company, and the Mt. Washington Auto Road company itself.
The Auto Road's steep grade - an average of 12 percent, rising to 22 percent at the finish - and Mt. Washington's unpredictable weather have given this race its reputation as one of the toughest sports events in the world. The standard entry fee is $350. For most riders, all but $25 of that amount is a tax-deductible charitable donation to Tin Mountain. For elite riders in the race's TopNotch, or elite, category, the tax-deductible amount is $200.
The race starts at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday at the base of the Mt. Washington Auto Road and finishes at the mountain's summit, 6288 feet above sea level and 4650 feet above the starting line. If sleet, freezing temperatures or other weather-hazards make conditions unsafe on Saturday, the Hillclimb will be postponed to Sunday.