May 21, 2014 – Pinkham Notch, N.H. Cyclists hoping for the opportunity this summer to pedal to the top of the highest peak in the northeastern United States can still register for the 9th annual Newton’s Revenge, a 7.6-mile all-uphill bicycle race from the base to the summit of New Hampshire’s 153-year-old Mt. Washington Auto Road. Newton’s Revenge will take place this year on July 12. Registration is available on line now at /race-details/registration.
Riders who sign up before June 15 can make this grueling climb twice – once in the race itself, once in the Practice Ride, held the morning of Sunday, June 15. The race starts at 8:40 a.m. (Note: In the event of severe weather on July 12, the race may be postponed to July 13, with the same start time.) In the June practice ride, cyclists may start any time between 5 a.m. and 6 a.m. Further information is available at .
Newton’s Revenge is the first of two bike races held on the Mt. Washington Auto Roadeach summer. The other, the Mt. Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb, takes place this year on August 16.
First held in 1973, the Hillclimb has attracted Olympians, professional cyclists, and thousands of rugged amateur riders and all-round extreme sports enthusiasts for 42 years. By the beginning of this century, demand for the opportunity to climb to Mt. Washington’s 6288-foot summit on a bicycle eventually became so great that the Mt. Washington Auto Road and its facilities could not accommodate all would-be entrants to the Hillclimb. To open the mountain to more cyclists, in 2006 the Auto Road management created Newton’s Revenge as a second race on the same course.
Registration for Newton’s Revenge opens each year as soon as registration for the Mt. Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb has closed. Registration for the 2014 Hillclimb opened on February 1 and closed on February 7, when the field reached its capacity of 650 entrants. Anyone else still hoping to compete in the Hillclimb can join the waiting list at https://www.bikereg.com/Net/22208.
Welcoming both professional and amateur riders, Newton’s Revenge and the Hillclimb are recognized by cyclists as more difficult than the most arduous Alpine climbs in the Tour de France. The Mt. Washington Auto Road’s average grade of 12 percent, along with Mt. Washington’s famously unpredictable weather and unusually high winds, makes finishing either race a mark of pride for any athlete.
Newton’s Revenge features many of the same professional cyclists and highly-ranked amateurs who have ridden in the Hillclimb. The favorites in Newton’s Revenge this year will be two past champions who missed the 2013 race but are likely to be in front again in 2014.
Marti Shea of Marblehead, Massachusetts, won the inaugural Newton’s Revenge in 2006, and she has won it each year since then with two exceptions. In 2007, the weather on Mt. Washington’s summit was so forbidding – ice on the road, fog, 70-mph. winds and a dangerous wind chill – that the race was canceled. In 2013, Shea’s coaching obligations and her work leading scenic rides in Europe caused her to miss the race.
A former All-American distance runner at Boston University, Shea expects to compete at Mt. Washington in 2014, and the fact that she is now 51 years old is unlikely to make anyone underrate her chances of winning again. Her winning time in 2012 was one hour 5 minutes 23 seconds; a month later she also won the Hillclimb, in a personal best of 1:03:14. The only other woman who has ridden Mt. Washington in a comparable time recently is U.S. National Mountain Bike Champion Lea Davison of Vermont, who won Newton’s Revenge last year in Shea’s absence, in 1:05:54. Davison is not entered in Newton’s Revenge this year.
On the men’s side, 28-year-old Cameron Cogburn of Cambridge, Mass., seems capable of handling any competition that comes to the mountain. Cogburn first raced in Newton’s Revenge in 2012 and won impressively in 55:59. Like Shea, he improved on that time in the 2012 Hillclimb, clocking 52:28 to win the August race. Last year he missed Newton’s Revenge but won the Hillclimb decisively, pedaling away from the field to a finishing time of 50 minutes 48 seconds. That time is within sight of the course record 49:24, set in 2002 by Tour de France racer Tom Danielson.
The Newton’s Revenge Practice Ride appeals to race entrants as an opportunity to gauge not only their own fitness but the effectiveness of the gearing on their bicycles. Cycling up the Auto Road requires a much lower gear ratio than most cyclists ever use anywhere else, and professional riders have been surprised by the difficulty of making the ascent in their usual lowest gear. The Practice Ride helps a racer learn what adjustments to make. It also prepares the rider for the mental demands of concentrating non-stop on pedal cadence and balance on a course that goes constantly uphill without a moment’s respite.
The size of the field for both the Hillclimb and Newton’s Revenge 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. The Hillclimb is filled to capacity every year; Newton’s Revenge typically draws between 250 and 350 riders. The entry fee for Newton’s Revenge is $300, of which a portion supports the activities of the Mt. Washington Valley Bicycling Club. Riders who are already registered for the Hillclimb may enter Newton’s Revenge for $150. There is no additional fee for the practice ride, but the number of riders is limited to 300, and the ride is open only to riders who are already registered for the corresponding race. Registered participants will receive Practice Ride registration instructions via email.
The Mt. Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb and Newton’s Revenge are two of ten events in the Bike Up the Mountain Point Series, familiarly known as BUMPS. The series includes Mt. Ascutney in Vermont, Mt. Greylock in Massachusetts, Whiteface Mountain in New York State, and other uphill races. For further information see www.hillclimbseries.com.