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Cameron Cogburn and Silke Wunderwald took top honors on Saturday in the 41st annual Mount Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb.
The 7.6-mile race to the summit of the highest peak in the northeastern United States, 6,288-foot Mount Washington in New Hampshire, boasts an average grade of 12 percent with extended sections of 18 percent. The final 50 yards is 22 percent.
Defending champion Cogburn led a pack of six riders for the first two miles before pulling away to win in 50 minutes and 48 seconds.
He finished nearly two minutes faster than last year, but was short of the course record of 49:24, set in 2002 by Tom Danielson.
“I know I could get the record,” said Cogburn, 27. “It’s a matter of losing a couple of pounds. But last week I went to [the Leadville Trail 100 MTB] and I suffered a bit at 12,000 feet. I’m happy with today.”
Erik Levinsohn finished second in 53:29. The 23-year-old said his plan “was to stay with Cameron as long as possible.”
“But that was for only two and a half miles,” he added. “The finish was a long way coming after that.”
Jeremiah Bishop took third in his first attempt at Mount Washington, finishing in 54:24.
“This is a spectacular place to ride. For a hill climb, I don’t know anything quite like it,” the 37-year-old mountain biker said at the windswept summit as he and Cogburn compared notes, wrapped in blankets against the 30-mph winds.
The fastest woman on the day, 42-year-old Wunderwald, pumped her fist as she sailed through the finish in one hour, 9 minutes and 56 seconds. She was just a hair faster than in her debut last year, when she finished third in 1:10:47.
“The lesson I learned last year was don’t go out too hard,” said Wunderwald.
Second 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.
All proceeds from the race benefit the Tin Mountain Conservation Center in Albany, which offers classes, workshops, camps, excursions and other lessons in natural history and the environment.