M/cloudy
63°
M/cloudy
Hi 62° | Lo 47°

Inaugural Mount Kearsarge race beckons hill-climbing cyclists

  • Andy Boekeler trains for a race up Mount Kearsarge as part of the Bike Up Mountains Series (BUMPS) on Wednesday, September 25, 2013. The Saturday, September 28 race is a hill-climb.<br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor staff)

    Andy Boekeler trains for a race up Mount Kearsarge as part of the Bike Up Mountains Series (BUMPS) on Wednesday, September 25, 2013. The Saturday, September 28 race is a hill-climb.

    (JOHN TULLY / Monitor staff)

  • Andy Boekeler trains for a race up Mount Kearsarge as part of the Bike Up Mountains Series (BUMPS) on Wednesday, September 25, 2013. The Saturday, September 28 race is a hill-climb.<br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor staff)

    Andy Boekeler trains for a race up Mount Kearsarge as part of the Bike Up Mountains Series (BUMPS) on Wednesday, September 25, 2013. The Saturday, September 28 race is a hill-climb.

    (JOHN TULLY / Monitor staff)

  • Andy Boekeler trains for a race up Mount Kearsarge as part of the Bike Up Mountains Series (BUMPS) on Wednesday, September 25, 2013. The Saturday, September 28 race is a hill-climb.<br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor staff)
  • Andy Boekeler trains for a race up Mount Kearsarge as part of the Bike Up Mountains Series (BUMPS) on Wednesday, September 25, 2013. The Saturday, September 28 race is a hill-climb.<br/><br/>(JOHN TULLY / Monitor staff)

Hill-climbing bikers have been training on the Mount Kearsarge access road for years, preparing for races up Mount Washington and other grueling slopes. The inclined challenge will become official tomorrow with the inaugural Hopkinton Rotary Mt. Kearsarge Hill Climb.

“I’ve trained over there many, many times, and we’ve talked about it for years that (Kearsarge) was worthy of having a race on it,” said Judy Caron of Concord.

Caron, 65, is still recovering from injuries she suffered in a bike accident last summer, so she won’t be racing tomorrow, but she’s more than qualified to comment. She holds hill-climbing age-group records on four mountains (including Washington), and she’s a three-time age-group points leader in the Bike Up the Mountains Points Series (BUMPS), a regional racing circuit that features 11 races up 10 mountains with

Kearsarge being the latest to join.

“We did some work to get our race certified as part of BUMPS and I was pretty happy with that,” said Irv Gordon, the Mt. Kearsarge race organizer. “It’s a great series of events and we inherit this great constituency of BUMPS riders.”

While the majority of hill-climbing bikers are in their 40s and 50s, the BUMPS circuit has seven age groups for both men and women that range from under-20 to 70-plus. But they all have one thing in common – a desire to push limits.

“You’re at absolute peak intensity,” said Andy Boeckeler, 47, of Bow, who finished 18th in his BUMPS age group last year. “So it is grueling, and if you weren’t prepared for that kind of thing you’d be suffering greatly, but I think once you get into it and you train, there’s something enjoyable about that.”

The BUMPS series began in 2009. This year it started with a race up Wachusett Mountain in Massachusetts on May 11 and will end Oct. 16 at the summit of the Appalachian Gap with the Allen Clark Hill Climb in Vermont. In between there were four other events in Vermont, one in New York, one in Massachusetts and two up Mount Washington – Newton’s Revenge on July 6 and the Auto Road Race on Aug. 17, which was in its 41st year.

“The first time I ever did the practice ride on Washington my daughter was driving me back down and there’s a point where you were looking down on the road and I just got shivers all over me and said, ‘You have to pull the car over right here,’ ” Caron said. “I got out of the car and I was just crying. I couldn’t believe I just did that. It was one of those experiences.”

Some of the races, like the ones up Mount Washington, are all uphill, so riders rig their bikes with nothing but low gears. That strategy won’t work, however, for the Kearsarge race, which contains some level and even downhill sections that will require higher gears for maximum speed.

The first half of the course, in fact, is a light climb from Warner to the starting point of the access road. Entrants can chose to ride only this 4.5-mile section, which Gordon has labeled the Rotary division. The full eight-mile course, which includes a 3.5-mile climb up the access road with an 8.7-percent average grade and a 1,738-foot rise, is the Summit division.

“Our event is unique among the BUMPS races in that respect,” Gordon said. “We wanted to offer something for recreational riders, or novice riders, who wanted to get a taste of the sport.”

It’s no surprise Gordon, 68, got creative with the race. He’s been involved with cycling in the Concord area since 1979 and for the past 29 years he’s organized the Killer Bee recreational bike ride from Concord to Waterville Valley. Two years ago he created a time trial bike race in order to raise money for the Hopkinton Rotary club scholarship fund. That was successful but lasted just one year because Gordon, a lawyer, was caught up with work. When the Rotary club was looking for more ways to raise money this year, however, he once again pedaled forward.

More than 100 riders are expected for the race, which is scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. and should finish by 10.

“That’s about how many I expected this year,” Gordon said. “We’re committed to doing this for three years, and once the word gets out I imagine that number will rise.”

Cash prizes will be awarded to the overall top three men and women – $150 for first, $100 for second and $50 for third. There will also be a $500 prize for the first Summit-division rider to reach the access road rotary, an award known in the cycling world as a Prime and another way to entice more entrants.

There will be prizes for the top finishers in each age category for both divisions as well. And all the riders are guaranteed the invigorating pain of an intense workout.

“I don’t mind the hurting while I’m doing it,” Caron said. “It’s that hurting that comes from inside when you’re breathing so hard that your chest starts hurting and your muscles are going, ‘What are you doing?’ That kind of hurting. I was okay with that.”

(Tim O’Sullivan can be reached at 369-3341 or tosullivan@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @timosullivan20.)

Related

Hopkinton Rotary Mt. Kearsarge Hill Climb information

Friday, September 27, 2013

Divisions Summit – 8-mile climb from the Warner to the Mount Kearsarge summit parking lot, including a 3.5-mile segment with an 8.7 percent average grade and 1,738-foot rise Rotary – 4.5-mile climb from Warner to the access road leading to the summit parking lot. Age categories Men and Women: 15-17, 18-19, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60-69, 70+, Tandem, Clydesdale & …

Legacy Comments0
There are no comments yet. Be the first!
Post a Comment

You must be registered to comment on stories. Click here to register.