2023 marks the 50th running of the Mt. Washington Auto Road Hill Climb, which benefits the Tin Mountain Conservation Center. Selected by Strambecco as one of the best cycling events in New England, the “Auto” reference relates to the events associated with the auto race that goes by the same name. Lest there be any doubt, they run on different dates, and the cycling hill climb is all about peddling power. The event organizers bill the event as the hardest hill climb in the world. Whether or not that is true, it’s a beast of a climb at 7.6 miles and +4500 feet of elevation gain. The average course gradient is 12%, with 18% and 22% extended sections at the top.
Although the event is technically a race, it is open to anyone who feels they can do the climb. Naturally, it takes solid preparation (there is a practice ride available on July 19), and a climbing (low) gear ratio is strongly recommended. You also need to keep a careful eye on the weather. Mt. Washington is known for some of the worst weather on earth and has the world record for non-tornadic winds speed at 231 MPH. There is a make-up day for the race in the event weather interferes with the primary date.
This event is very special for several other reasons. First, because it’s a private road, only a handful of times a year, bicycles are allowed on the private Mt. Washington Auto Road. Second, the post-race meal is a full Thanksgiving Turkey feast. Third, you can’t ride your bike down Mt Washington and must arrange for a ride in, fittingly, an auto! Finally, the surrounding Mt. Washington area is quintessential New Hampshire, and along with the event, festivities make for a unique, albeit challenging, weekend.