Mount Washington Auto Road, Gorham NH

Mt. Washington Auto Road 

America's oldest and continuously-operating attraction

May 1, 2016
44th Annual Mt Washington Bicycle Hillclimb

The Mt. Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb is known as the toughest hillclimb in the world at 7.6 miles in length, has an average grade of 12% with extended sections of 18% and the last 50 yards is an amazing 22%. Riders race to the top of New England at 6,288ft.

The race is officially full and a wait list has begun. Tin Mountain Conservation has is also looking for more riders for their other fundraiser, the Century +
44th Annual Mt Washington Bicycle Hillclimb

The field for the 44th annual Mt. Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb, to be held on August 20, is now officially full. Any cyclist who has not already registered for this all-uphill race but still hopes to ride in it can register for a place on the Hillclimb waiting list. Meanwhile, space remains available in the Mt. Washington Century+ Ride, a non-competitive long-distance cycling event on July 30, in which riders pedal around a scenic 109-mile loop, or shorter loops of 88 or 44 miles, in New Hampshire’s Presidential Range. 

The Hillclimb and the Century+ are the two major annual fundraising events for the Tin Mountain Conservation Center. Based in Albany, N.H., Tin Mountain conducts classes, workshops, excursions and other events that promote a greater awareness of the natural world. Registration for the Hillclimb waiting list is at Registration for the Century+ is at

Sponsored by Polartec, with additional support from Cadence Wealth Management, Quad Cycles and a variety of New England businesses, the Mt. Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb is recognized by professional cyclists as an ascent equal in difficulty to the most challenging Alpine climbs in the Tour de France. A 7.6-mile race to the summit of the highest peak in the northeastern United States, it features not only the Auto Road’s unrelenting 12 percent grade but also the notoriously unpredictable Mt. Washington weather, which typically includes extreme winds and temperature changes. 

The field for the Hillclimb is limited to 635 riders. With the closing of registration last week, that field includes 627 solo riders, two teams of three riders on triple-tandem bikes, and two who will be competing on ElliptiGO machines, which resemble fitness-center elliptical training devices with the addition of two wheels and steering. If any of these entrants are forced to cancel their plans to be part of the August 20 race, their places will be offered to riders on the waiting list.

The Century+ attracts a mixture of serious recreational riders, hardcore racers who enjoy the extra training benefit of the hilly 109-mile (“Century” plus nine) route, and slightly less ambitious cyclists who see the 44- or 88-mile alternative as just enough of a challenge. Riders in the Century+ begin their ride any time between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m., at the Tin Mountain Nature Learning Center on Bald Hill Road in Albany, N.H. Aid stations are available along the route, and participation includes a substantial post-ride lunch at Tin Mountain.

On-line registration for the Century+ is open until 5 p.m. on Wednesday, July 25. Anyone wishing to enter after that date may do so on Saturday, July 30 – the day of the ride -- at the Tin Mountain center between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m.

Space is also still available in the Hillclimb's Practice Ride, held on July 17. Registration for the Practice Ride is limited to cyclists who are registered for the Hillclimb. The Practice Ride is an opportunity for Hillclimb entrants to familiarize themselves with the peculiar challenges of the Auto Road five weeks prior to the actual race. The number of practice riders is limited to 300. Practice riders may start their ascent any time between 5 a.m. and 6 a.m.

The men’s course record-holder for the Hillclimb is Tom Danielson, who in 2002 reached the Mt. Washington summit in 49 minutes 24 seconds, and who went on to become the first American finisher in the 2011 Tour de France. The women’s record is 58:14, set in 2000 by Jeannie Longo of France.

The entry fee for the Mt. Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb is $350, from which all proceeds serve the environmental and educational mission of the conservation center. From now until the end of June, the entry fee for the Century+ is $100 per person, or $85 per person for a team of four or more cyclists, $160 per family, or $55 for any rider under the age of 16. After June 30 the fee is $110 per person, $95 per person for a team, $175 per family and $65 for riders under 16. Entry to the Practice Ride is free for Hillclimb entrants, and anyone registered for the Hillclimb can receive a 50 percent discount on the entry fee for the Century+.

The Tin Mountain Conservation Center provides school programs that reach nearly 5000 students, nature camps for over 300 children, a large series of community nature programs, classes, workshops, excursions and other lessons in the workings of the natural world. Entry fees for the Hillclimb and Century+ provide crucial support for all these activities and may qualify as a tax deduction for most entrants. The balance of the entry fee covers the cost of substantial logistical support, food, commemorative shirt and other expenses involved in staging the race.

Junior riders – cyclists under 20 years of age on race day – are eligible for free entry to the Hillclimb if they raise funds through donations to Tin Mountain in connection with their registration. Four such riders are chosen each year.