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Phil Gaimon wins 2008 Mt. Washington Hillclimb, by Al Hospers
 Article List
• My winter vacation
• Phil Gaimon wins 2008 Mt. Washington Hillclimb
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• Maineís Islesboro is a seaside bicycle adventure
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• Hillclimbs, heaven or hell?
• Acadiaís bikeways beckon
• Where Cycling Is Taken Seriously
• Crusing along Lake Winnipesaukee by bike and boat
• Crank That Kanc
• Wrap, ride and reward
• A Clean Sweep
In the best of times Mount Washington is a study in extremes. Ask anyone who has ridden the bike race, skied it in the spring or climbed ice there in the winter. A horrible start can end up beautiful, a beautiful start can turn deadly and anything can happen in between. Though rarely cancelled or postponed, the Hillclimb, companion race Newtonís Revenge and their respective practice rides were all cancelled in 2007.

Although Mother Nature teased participants with tiny showers the morning of the race, conditions at the start were close to perfect - temp at the base of the Auto Road was a mild 61, while the summit was a sunny 46 and literally no wind. This yielded near-perfect conditions for the top finishers. However conditions shifted to light rain and hail later in the morning, making things somewhat more difficult for the less elite field.

The 600 rider field, containing none of the more well known riders of the past few years such as Tyler Hamilton, Tom Danielson or Ned Overend, left things wide open for up and coming riders. In keeping with tradition the age of the field encompassed a wide range, this year including youngest-ever rider 9 year old Jonah Thompson from Albquerque, NM riding by himself and 75 year old Steve Swenson, a local from North Conway, NH.

When the canon went off at 8:40 the elite group took off, led right from the start by Phillip Gaimon from Tucker Georgia. Gaimon, 22, was the second place finisher in Julyís Newtonís Revenge race over the same course. Close behind were Nico Toutenhoofd, 40, and Steve Gatzos, 32. By the second mile Gaimon had clearly established his lead, with Toutenhoofd and Gatzos riding together, about 40 seconds behind. While Gaimon looked as if he was struggling just a bit at 5.6 miles, he held firmly onto his lead increasing it to 1 minute and 43 seconds by the finish. Just shy of 5 miles Toutenhoofd pulled ahead of Gatzos and by the end he had extended his lead over to 53 seconds.
Phil Gaimon is firmly in the lead as he comes across the Alpine Garden.
Commenting about his race Gaimon, a CAT 1 rider on the Fiordifrutta team, said; ìI felt lots better at this race. This time I didnít crack!î Regarding the difference in training between this race and Julyís Newtonís Revenge, in which he came in 2nd close to a minute behind winner Anthony Coby; ìFor Newtonís I was coming off a rest period. This time I came right from the Nationals in California.î Asked about his gearing he responded, ìIím running 34/28. I felt a lot more solid.î

In the elite womanís division, Brazilian rider Flavia Lepene, 31, took the lead from the start, followed by Magali Tisseyre, 25, and Kristie Reynolds. Reynolds is 42 and a mother of 2 - 8 year olds! This order stayed the same for the entire race with Lepene finishing at 1:08.52, Tisseyre at 1:10.07 and Reynolds at 1:17.12. None of the top 3 women had ridden Mt. Washington before.

Asked about her strategy for the race, womanís winner Flavia Lepene, a CAT 2 rider, responded; ìThis is only my third year racing. I just paced myself and climbed harder on the steep sections. I didnít do the practice ride. I watched a video of the course, but I couldnít remember any of the sections.î The 91 pound Lepene joked; ìI wanted to take advantage of my weight.î Lepene currently lives in Virginia and rides on Trek Team 19.

The annual Mount Washington Bicycle Hillclimb is a fundraiser for the Tin Mountain Conservation Center located in Conway, New Hampshire. (http://www.tinmtn.org)
by Al Hospers


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