By John Stifler
Youth and confidence were no match for age and experience at this year’s Mt. Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb in New Hampshire.
Nico Toutenhoofd (Hotel San Jose/Mellow Johnny’s), 42, and veteran mountain biker Tinker Juarez (Cannondale Factory Racing), 49, blew away everyone else, including two 22-year-olds from Garmin-Transitions, the same team that includes the Auto Road’s course record-holder, Tom Danielson.
And even though it’s billed as a road race, Juarez proved a road is essentially a trail that’s been paved. With decades of mountain experience, but his first time racing Mt. Washington, Juarez was the only rider to start out with the lead pack and then not blow up, despite being new to the course.
Coming off top-20 showing at the Leadville Trail 100, the sun-tanned, wind-wrinkled Juarez sported a mass of curls and dreads under his helmet. The former national cross-country mountain biking champion who is now an endurance specialist pulled away from other contenders after the five-mile point to take second in 58:08. First-place Toutenhoofd posted a time of 57:26. Third place was Timothy Ahearn in 58:22.
Danielson holds the record for the 7.6-mile grind up to Mt. Washington’s 6,288-foot summit at 49:24. The Northeast’s highest peak serves up an average road grade of 12 percent; its steepest extended section is 18 percent, and the finish is 70 meters of a kick-in-the-face 22 percent.
For a full race report and results, go to VeloNews.com.