Saturday, July 11, 2009

Colby and Shea repeat winners at Newton’s Revenge

Repeating the top of the leader sheet from the previous year, 30-year-old Anthony Colby and 46-year-old Marti Shea won Newton’s Revenge, a 7.6-mile bike race to the summit of Mt. Washington, the highest mountain in the northeastern United States.

Colby, a native of Dedham, Mass., who lives and trains in the Durango, CO, bested his winning time from last year by nearly two minutes, finishing in 53 minutes and 50 seconds. He rode through the finish almost four minutes ahead of the second-place finisher, 20-year-old Christopher Hong, from Lutherville, MD. Three-time women’s winner, Marti Shea, from Marblehead, MA, also bested her time from last year, coming in at 1:08:42, ahead of second-place finisher and former Ironman Triathlon World Champion, Karen Smyers, who finished at 1:15:43.

The conditions, which can be a daunting challenge on Mt. Washington, proved to be nearly perfect for the 142 cyclists, with sunny skies and a light breeze at the start. Even as riders scaled the 6,288 Mt. Washington, into the teeth of potentially savage conditions, the weather remained favorable, with only a slight headwind giving riders a minor, but undeniable, nudge.

Whereas in the 2008 Newton’s Revenge Colby had a challenge from rider Philip Gaimon, who went on to win the 2008 Mt. Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb, this year Colby rode the race on his own, out of sight from the rest of the riders. Splitting from the pack at the opening cannon blast, Colby mounted a lead that was 47 seconds within the first 1 ½ miles of the race, and only got larger as he climbed. Even though he was competing largely against himself, Colby was determined to not run out of gas: “I just wanted to keep my own pace, but kept saying, ‘oh baby, this is so steep.’ Last year with Phil I think we went too hard at the bottom, and this year I was able to keep it consistent.”

Hong, in his first appearance at Mt. Washington, had a similar race, pushing forward alone, well behind Colby, yet far ahead of the rest of the pack. Keeping his face calm and his posture steady, Hong kept a consistent pace and rode his own race to the finish, where he was greeted by his mother and a great perspective on the challenge of the race. “This is the most tired I’ve ever been,” Hong said, “I was planning on trying to stand up (at the last push) but I felt like I was going backwards, so I just tired to get my weight down and push on.”

At the 2008 Newton’s Revenge, women’s winner Marti Shea was forced to cross the finish line on foot due to a broken chain suffered yards from the finish, but this year she decided that it worked so well last time she’d run the last, brutal 22% grade again. “I just felt like running at the end,” Shea said. “I figured that I could just get off the bike and felt that I could run even faster.”
Shea battled pneumonia before the 2008 Newton’s Revenge, and after a full training schedule this year, was able to knock nearly six minutes off of her winning time from last year. In fact, Shea is the only women’s winner in the history of Newton’s Revenge.

Second place finisher Karen Smyers of Lincoln, MA, watched Shea sprint out at the start, and according to Smyers, “She was gone.” “I’ve never trained for something like this,” the 48-year-old Smyers went on to say of her inaugural trip to Newton’s Revenge, “I think I was using too easy gears, and could use some more practice.” When asked if she will be competing in the Mt. Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb in August, which is held on the same course, Smyers laughed and said she was signed up, but “Don’t make me think about it now!”

Before the start, a healthy mix of seasoned veterans and nervous newcomers milled around the base of Mt. Washington, trading secrets about gearing, and pedaling their bikes on trainers to fire up their climbing muscles. Riders from as far away as Texas journeyed to the White Mountains for the chance to ride up the tallest mountain in the Northeast, and the sense of excitement and nervous tension created a healthy buzz around the start.

Two age group course records were set today, including Shea’s performance of 1:08:42. Shea bested her own course record for females ages 45-49 of 1:14:22, which she set in 2008. One age bracket higher, in the 50 to 54 age division, Dominique Codere of Montreal, Quebec set a new record of 1:23:42, outpacing the old mark of 1:26:03 set by Carol Lanza in 2000.

Newton’s Revenge is also a race that is part of the Bike Up the Mountain Point Series (BUMPS), and current BUMPS leader Douglas Jansen of Pelham, NH made a strong showing, finishing fifth overall in a time of 1:06:23 and increasing his lead in the series. BUMPS, which includes Newton’s Revenge, the Mt. Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb and five other mountain races throughout the Northeast, began at Whiteface Mountain in the Adirondacks and concludes in October. For further information, see

This year there was an unofficial competitor in the Newton’s Revenge field, as a large moose wandered onto the course at the three mile mark, but retreated to the woods before Colby rode through. Luckily for the competitors, the moose did not make a return to the course.

Newton’s Revenge, first held in 2006, and canceled in 2007 due to bad weather, is held on the same course as the Mt. Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb, an event that dates back to 1973, and attracts a field of 600 riders. This year’s race scheduled for August 15 is already filled to capacity.

Complete results are available at

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

This Camel Climbed Mt. Washington

Josh the Camel made it to the summit of Mt. Washington today! He's the first ever camel to accomplish this feat. Way to go Josh!

Josh and his entourage left the base of the Mt. Washington Auto Road at 3:00am to begin the 7.6-mile trek to the summit. Accompanying Josh were two horses named Kid and Mariah, an Irish wolfhound named Tadhg and his handlers Chris Butler and Jennifer Bolay. Climbing through fog, mist and rain, the crew made good time up the Mt. Washington Auto Road until the final 100 yards. Unaware that the summit was so close, Kid decided he no longer wanted to climb, and Josh refuses to go anywhere without his best buddy. After much cajoling, Josh and the rest of the group crested the final rise to summit about 45 minutes after the stall completing the climb in just over five and a half hours. (Kid arrived on his own soon after.)

When asked about the climb, Josh said, “Chomp, chomp, chomp.” Apparently, he worked up quite an appetite.

Josh spent most of the day on the summit posing for pictures, but not signing autographs. Along with the honor of being the first camel to reach the top of Mt. Washington, he also received a “This Camel Climbed Mt. Washington” bumper sticker.

Picture Time!

More photos on our Facebook page.

- Ryan

Friday, July 3, 2009

Newton's Revenge on the Horizon

Just a quick update on the newest bike race up Mt. Washington. The defending champions, Anthony Colby and Marti Shea, are back to defend their titles!

Here's the press release:
Anthony Colby of Durango, Colorado, has announced that he will return to the Mt. Washington Auto Road on July 11, with his lowest-geared bicycle, to defend his title as the men’s reigning champion in Newton’s Revenge. Colby, 30, last year won this 7.6-mile bike race to the top of the highest peak in the Northeast in 55 minutes five seconds, heightening his reputation as one of the best hillclimbers among professional cyclists in the United States.

Marti Shea, 46, of Marblehead, Massachusetts, will similarly be defending her title as the women’s champion in Newton’s Revenge. Shea, an independent veteran rider and former distance runner, won Newton’s Revenge last year in one hour 14 minutes 22 seconds.

Colby made his Mt. Washington debut in 2005 in the Mt. Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb, the older and better-known of the two bike races that take place on the same grueling course each summer. In that race he finished second, beaten only by Olympic gold medalist and four-time Mt. Washington winner Tyler Hamilton.

Now in this third year with the Colavita/Sutter Home racing team, Colby this month has already placed second in one stage of Nature Valley Grand Prix in Minnesota, fifth in another, and is #6 in USA Cycling’s individual National Racing Calendar (NRC) rankings. Colavita/Sutter Home is the top team in the NRC rankings. Elsewhere, he has won the King of the Mountains title (i.e., best climber) in the 2007 Tour de ‘Toona in Altoona, Pennsylvania, won the 2008 Tour of El Paso and placed in the top three finishers in two stages of the Tour of the Gila.

Marti Shea is in fact the only woman ever to win Newton’s Revenge, having also won it in its inaugural year, 2006. In 2007 dangerous weather on the summit forced that race’s cancellation. The 2006 men’s winner was Paul Carpissassi, who finished remarkably in exactly one hour to the nearest tenth of a second.

Registration --

Newton’s Revenge will accept entrants until 5 p.m. on July 9. The entry fee for Newton’s is $300, or $450 for tandems. As the “other” race up the Mt. Washington Auto Road, Newton’s Revenge opens for registration only after the Hillclimb has filled to its capacity of 600 entrants. This year the Hillclimb opened for registration on February 1 and filled to capacity two days later. The registration site for Newton’s Revenge is The Hillclimb will take place on August 15.

Background --

Professional cyclists have repeatedly called Mt. Washington a tougher hill to climb than the most difficult ascent in the Tour de France. The Mt. Washington Auto Road rises at an average grade of 12 percent to the summit of Mt. Washington, at 6288 feet the highest point in the northeastern United States. Pedaling in lower gears than anyone normally uses anywhere else, ambitious riders climb 4650 feet in altitude, usually while buffeted by Mt. Washington’s notorious high winds, clouds, fog and other elements.

Race day details –

Sponsored by Polartec, with additional sponsorship from Coca Cola, Michelin, Hammer Nutrition, BikeReg, VDO and the local Red Jersey Cyclery, Newton’s Revenge starts on July 11 at 8:40 a.m. when the first of four waves of riders sprint from the starting line through 400 meters of downhill and then flat road, then begin the grueling ascent. Three successive waves of riders follow at five-minute intervals.

The record for the fastest time on a bicycle up the Auto Road is 49 minutes 24 seconds, set by Tom Danielson in the 2002 Hillclimb. The women’s course record is 54:09, set by Genevieve Jeanson the same year.

On race day, the Auto Road is open beforehand just for support vehicles to drive to the summit with dry clothing and food for the cyclists. In case of prohibitively bad weather on the 11th, the race will be postponed to July 12. Should the entire weekend be canceled by weather, entrants will be refunded half of the $300 entry fee.

Bike Up Mountains Points Series --

Newton’s Revenge and the Mt. Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb are two of nine events in the Bike Up the Mountain Point Series, familiarly known as BUMPS. The series begins with a race up Whiteface Mountain in the Adirondacks on June 20 and concludes on October 10, with the two races up Mt. Washington and five other hillclimbs at various locations throughout the summer. At the conclusion, the King and Queen of the Mountains prizes are awarded to the man and woman accumulating the greatest number of points in five of the nine races. In view of the “hors categorie” (beyond category) steepness of the Mt. Washington Auto Road, points earned in Newton’s Revenge and the Hillclimb are doubled. For further information see

Benefit for Observatory --

The Mount Washington Observatory, which receives significant contributions via the proceeds of Newton’s Revenge, is a private, non-profit scientific and educational institution. Its mission is to advance understanding of the natural systems that create the Earth's weather and climate, by maintaining its mountaintop weather station, conducting research and educational programs and interpreting the heritage of the Mount Washington region. Newton’s Revenge will also benefit other local charities.

For more information visit