Marti Shea wins record fourth Hillclimb, 11th race overall

42nd Mt. Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb

– Marti Shea wins record fourth Hillclimb, 11th race overall
– Ebsen tops Cogburn to take Mt. Washington debut

August 16, 2014

PINKHAM NOTCH, N.H. – Marti Shea of Marblehead, Mass., dominated once again and John Kronborg Ebsen of Denmark delivered an impressive effort in his first look at the mountain, as the two riders rode to victories in tough weather conditions in the 42nd Mt. Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb on Saturday.

As has been the case nearly every other time she has raced here, Shea sped away from the other women in the field at the start and rode behind only the strongest men. She eventually finished in one hour six minutes and one second – two minutes shy of her best time here, but an emphatic victory in typically bad Mt. Washington weather. Ebsen closely followed Cameron Cogburn, the two-time defending champion, for the first five miles of the 7.6-mile race, then surged ahead in the final two miles to win in 52 minutes 53 seconds.

In this grueling climb to the 6,288-foot summit of the highest peak in the northeastern United States, Shea’s time placed her 17th overall and nearly eight minutes ahead of her nearest challenger, as she became the first woman to win the Hillclimb four times. Previously she had been tied with Aimee Vasse with three wins apiece. It was the 11th overall race win on the Mt. Washington Auto Road for Shea, who also has won Newton’s Revenge – a July race on the same route – seven times.

Shea hoped to finish the climb in under 65 minutes, but the cold and windy weather got in the way of that plan. The temperature was just over 40 degrees and winds about 35 miles per hour for a wind chill factor of 25 degrees when the top riders reached the summit.

“Down below, the weather was good,” said Shea, “But around four miles the wind started, and then it was off and on – a side wind, then a head wind. I was losing body temperature. There have been a few races here with conditions like this, but this may have been the worst I’ve seen. Anyway, I’m happy about my fourth win.”

Silke Wunderwald, 42, of Hopkinton, R.I., won this race last year when Shea was occupied with coaching and leading cycling tours in Europe. This year she followed Shea at a respectful distance, taking the runnerup spot in 1:13:55. Stefanie Sydlik, 29, of Cambridge, Mass., was third in 1:16:39. Fourth place went to Elizabeth McClintock, 51, of Wellesley, Mass. Alexa Gubinski, 26, of Fairfield, Conn., was fifth in 1:20:30.

For most of the race, Coburn, 28, a professional cyclist on leave from graduate studies in astrophysics at M.I.T., led a string of riders. The 25-year-old Ebsen, fellow Mt. Washington first-timer Eneas Freyre of Norwalk, Conn., 38, and Eric Follen, 39, of Sanford, Maine, a two-time runnerup here, rode in a peloton-like line from the early going until where the Auto Road turns to dirt above the tree line. Ebsen, however, also a pro cyclist, had recently beaten Cogburn in a race in Taiwan, and his first attempt on Mt. Washington was well calculated.

“I knew I should follow Cameron,” said the winner. “He’s a really strong rider. When it got steep, then I would go.” Ebsen began pulling away before the six-mile mark, extended his lead, and won in a time of 52 minutes and 53 seconds, 57 seconds faster than Cogburn.

“I knew his strategy,” said Cogburn, who had won each of his previous four races up the Auto Road — a pair of wins in Newton’s Revenge (2012 and this year) to go with the two Hillclimb triumphs. “He sat on my wheel for 39 minutes.” Because he has expressed a hope of beating the course record at Mt. Washington – 49:24, ridden in 2002 by Tour de France rider Tom Danielson – Cogburn reckons that other riders will often pace themselves by following him.

He commented that he was feeling less than one hundred percent, having recently returned from hard training with his team in the Rockies. “But I kind of like this weather,” he added. “You’re racing up this road, and clouds come at you.”

Freyre rode strongly to third place in 54:11, while Mt. Washington veteran Philip Wong, 34, of Northborough, Mass., overtook Follen in the final mile to take fourth in 54:23, with Follen three seconds behind.

The first New Hampshire finishers were Alec Babala, 23, of Nashua, and Christine Jankins, 50, of Hampton. Wearing the team jersey of the cycling club at Rhode Island School of Design, where he graduated this year, Babala placed 15th overall with a time of 1:05:25. Jankins finished in 1:30:06.

Babala found today’s weather the worst he has encountered in his four races up the mountain. “I was underdressed,” he said. “I should have been wearing arm warmers.” Above the tree line, he and all the other riders were battered by the wind while simultaneously riding into a cloud cover that had settled on the upper slopes. “I couldn’t see anything,” he continued. “I just heard breathing behind me for a while, and then I didn’t hear it, so I knew I was pulling away from somebody. And I could hear bells through the fog. That kept me going.”

Babala had hoped to finish the ascent in an hour, but, like most riders in the field, he found the conditions difficult. “Every turn in the road, you just have to keep going. Press on the pedals. My chain kept slipping, and my cadence was off.” Even so, he was pleased that his time today was his fastest ever for this climb. “Overall, it was a good day.”

In all, 517 cyclists finished the race, including two unicyclists and three tandem teams. The Mt. Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb serves as the primary fundraising event for the Tin Mountain Conservation Center in Albany, N.H. The Center offers classes, workshops, excursions and other lessons in the workings of the natural world. Information about educational programs, camps and other activities at Tin Mountain is available at www.tinmountain.org.

 

COGBURN AND WUNDERWALD PEDAL FASTEST TO THE TOP

An M.I.T. graduate student in astrophysics and a research chemist showed today that scientific careers have not hampered their bicycling abilities. Cameron Cogburn, 27, of Cambridge, Mass., and Silke Wunderwald, 42, of Hopkinton, R.I., took the top prizes today in the 41st annual Mt. Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb, a 7.6-mile all-uphill race to the summit of the highest peak in the northeastern United States.

Cogburn, a former professional rider who returned to amateur status to concentrate on his studies, blasted off the starting line at the base of the Mt. Washington Auto Road and led a pack of six riders for the first two miles before pulling away and pedaling solo to a finishing time of 50 minutes 48 seconds. That time was nearly two minutes faster than last year, when he first won this race, and within sight of the course record 49:24, set in 2002 by Tour de France racer Tom Danielson.

“I know I could get the record,” said Cogburn after reaching the 6288-foot summit of Mt. Washington. “It’s a matter of losing a couple of pounds. But last week I went to Leadville” – a 100-mile bike race at high altitude in Colorado, where Cogburn finished fourth – “and I suffered a bit at 12,000 feet! I’m happy with today.”

Cogburn’s closest pursuer was 23-year-old Erik Levinsohn, a first-year Yale medical student with extensive bike-racing success in New England. “My plan was to stay with Cameron as long as possible,” said Levinsohn. “But that was for only two and a half miles! The finish was a long way coming after that.” Levinsohn finished in 53:29. Third place went to Jeremiah Bishop, 37, of Harrisonburg, Virginia, in 54:24.

One of the country’s most accomplished mountain bike racers, Bishop was testing himself on the Auto Road’s 12 percent grade for the first time. “This is a spectacular place to ride,” he said at the windswept summit, as he and Cogburn wrapped themselves in blankets against the 30-mph winds, and compared notes. “For a hillclimb, I don’t know anything quite like it.” Bishop added that he and Cogburn would meet again the next day in the Hampshire 100, a 100-mile off-road race near Greenfield, N.H. “I feel like this’ll warm me up for tomorrow.”

Wunderwald pumped her fist as she sailed through the finish in one hour 9 minutes 56 seconds, a welcome improvement on her Mt. Washington debut last year, when she finished third in 1:10:47.

“The lesson I learned last year,” she said, “was, Don’t go out too hard!” Like many Mt. Washington racers before her, she discovered that the only way to ride well on the Auto Road is to concentrate on pacing, not on the competition.  As her fellow winner Cogburn put it, “You have to stay within your limits and not think about the other riders.”

A native of the Lake Constanz region of Germany, Wunderwald moved to the U.S. twenty years ago and works in research and development with Pfizer in Groton, Ct. She began competitive cycling in 2006 and in the last two years has focused on hillclimbs. The women’s runnerup was 28-year-old Stefanie Sydlik of Cambridge, Mass., in 1:12:59. Third was Line Lauritsen, 31, of McHenry, Maryland, in 1:14:33.

In a field of 504 finishers, the first New Hampshire riders to reach the top of Mt. Washington were Douglas Jansen, 50, of Pelham, placing 18th overall in 1:05:12 and Christine Jankins, 49, of Hampton, 237th overall in 1:30:56.

For their victories, Cogburn and Wunderwald won $1500 apiece.  All proceeds from the race benefit the Tin Mountain Conservation Center in Albany, N.H., which offers classes, workshops, camps, excursions and other lessons in natural history and the environment.

TOP MEN
1.  Cameron Cogburn, 27, Cambridge MA     50:48
2.  Erik Levinsohn, 23, Williamstown MA    53:29
3.  Jeremiah Bishop, 37, Harrisonburg VA    54:24
4.  Ryan Miller, 22, Corvallis OR     55:23
5.  Chris Carr, 30, Golden CO      56:52
6.  Timothy Ahearn, 39, Woodstock CT   56:55
7.  Sean McCarthy, 29, Amherst MA    58:38
8.  William Cooper, 25, Philadelphia PA   59:35
9.  Chris Yura, 34, Bryn Mawr PA    59:54
10. Nate Whitman, 38, Los Angeles CA  1:00:12

TOP WOMEN
1.  Silke Wunderwald, 42, Hopkinton RI   1:09:56
2.  Stefanie Sydlik, 28, Cambridge MA  1:12:59
3.  Line Lauritsen, 31, McHenry MD   1:14:33
4.  Kristen Gohr, 43, Reading MA  1:15:06
5.  Patricia Karter, 57, Milton MA  1:20:57
6.  Elizabeth Bove, 42, Woodstock CT  1:21:53
7.  Kelley Fitzgerald, 47, Woburn MA  1:24:28
8.  Michelle Vuolo, 41, Stow MA   1:25:09
9.  Susan Lucek, 53, Tolland CT   1:25:20
10. Margaret Thompson, 59, Clinton NY  1:25:32

 

See Complete 2013 Results

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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