Auto road a chance to pedal to the clouds over 8 miles


PINKHAM NOTCH, N.H. — The 47th annual Mt. Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb is looking for a few more riders – particularly riders who can make this ultra-steep climb in just one gear.

This year the historic bike race will award cash prizes not only to the overall winners but also to the first man and first woman to complete the Hillclimb on fixed-gear bikes, with the additional bonus of a gift card from State Bicycle Company.

Anyone who has registered for the Hillclimb can receive a 50 percent discount on the registration fee for the Mt. Washington Century, the scenic and challenging 109-mile ride around northern New Hampshire’s Presidential Range three weeks before the Hillclimb.

The 2019 Mt. Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb will take place on Saturday, August 17. Registration remains open until the field reaches its capacity of 635 riders. Riders can sign up at

Hillclimb entrants may also participate in the Practice Ride, held on July 14 and limited to 300 riders. The Mt. Washington Century, open to anyone, will take place on July 27.

While the world’s top professional cyclists ride in this year’s Tour de France, amateur riders can look forward to pedaling up the one New England mountain that matches the Tour’s most difficult ascents for steepness, length and intensity. The Mt. Washington Auto Road rises 4650 feet in the course of its 7.6 miles, constantly uphill at an average grade of 12 percent. (For comparison, the steepest portion of the fabled Col de Galibier in the Alps is 10 percent.)

For any cyclist still debating whether or not to tackle Mt. Washington this year, the newly expanded prize structure for top finishers should add incentive. As in previous years, the first male and female finishers will each win $1500, but this year a cash prize of $750 will also go to the second-place male and female riders and $500 to the man and woman in third position on the awards podium.

The other significant addition to the Hillclimb this year is the prize of $500, plus a $250 gift card from State Bicycle Company, for the first man and first woman to complete the race on fixed-gear bikes,

With only one front and one rear chain sprocket, fixed-gear bikes cannot coast, hence the riders are always pedaling. On the Mt. Washington Auto Road, however, riders on multi-gear bikes normally are pedaling the whole way anyway. The advantage of the fixed-gear option is a much lighter bike. The disadvantage is that the rider cannot shift gears to adjust to the road’s variable grade, which reaches 22 percent as it approaches the finish line at Mt. Washington’s 6288-foot summit.

The July 14 Practice Ride is an opportunity for Hillclimb entrants to test their preparedness and familiarize themselves with the Auto Road.

The Mt. Washington Century, billed as the most challenging 100-mile ride (it’s actually 109 miles) in New England, makes the circuit of the Presidential Range, starting and finishing at the Tin Mountain Conservation Center in Albany, N.H. Riders in this spectacular July 27 event may begin their ride any time between 6 and 8 a.m.

The Mt. Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb and the Mt. Washington Century are the main annual fund-raising events for the Tin Mountain Conservation Center, which provides environmental and recreational education for children, schools and families in communities in the White Mountains and the Mt. Washington Valley.

Of the $350 entry fee for the Hillclimb, $150 helps to cover the cost of staging the race. The balance is a tax-deductible charitable contribution to Tin Mountain’s programs. This year, riders have the option of registering for $150 and then raising the remaining $200 in donations.

The entry fee for the Mt. Washington Century is $140 for individuals, $175 for a family. Cyclists who are already registered for the Hillclimb may register for the Century at half price.