Brion O'Connor, who did the story on BUMPS for the NY Times a couple weeks ago has now done a story for Velonews - New series offers Northeast mountain goats a lofty goal. Or nine." With the world checking Velonews for Tour updates, traffic to northeastcycling.com could go through the roof. Now I wish I had Google AdSense set up. Brion placed a couple links to my website in the article.
I hope BUMPS begins drawing more elite riders in the local hillclimb scene. I believe some of the western states hillclimb series, like in Arizona, are well attended by top athletes. But, these events (Kitt Peak, Mt Lemmon and Mt Graham) are also USAC sanctioned events. In the Northeast, I believe only Mt Greylock has been an USAC event in the past, run as an individual time-trial. Sanctioning local hillclimb events is a mixed bag, and I believe most race directors are opposed to it. I am too, as many riders that attend these events are not licensed riders and do not do traditional road races.
The Northeast racing schedule is so packed it is hard to find days for hillclimb events that don't coincide with important road events. I know I have to choose what I want to do most weekends, and sometimes I favor a road race over hillclimb event. For most elite riders, it's not a matter of choice. Sponsors expect the team to support specific events. Non-sanctioned hillclimb events don't show on the radar unless there is nothing else going on that weekend. Sanctioning could help draw more elites, but it would kill the grassroots nature of most of the climbs and many non-licensed riders would stop coming.
Increased prize money could go a long way. The current economy makes it very difficult to put up cash though. Mt Equinox has always done well drawing a bunch of elite riders with it's $500 first mile prime. Mt Washington puts up $1500 each for overall male and female winners and $5000 for any man or woman that breaks the record. Prizes like these can easily entice a cash strapped elite rider. Of course, the Mt Washington entry fee is very steep, so you better have a very high level of confidence if you expect the event to produce net positive cash flow. For the masses though, we just love to suffer. We have no hope of winning cash. Prize lists for age group placers and awards raffles can be quite good, so there are many chances to leave with some sweet swag.
Newton's is Saturday morning. Since this is a non-priority event for me, I plan to drive up morning of and race on <5hrs sleep. This is only possible because the race start time has been pushed back an hour from where it historically was. Then it's off to Manchester, VT with the Mrs. for a free night's stay with breakfast at the Reluctant Panther Inn. Very posh. I won this at the Mt Equinox hillclimb last year. Never got anything this good from winning a road or MTB race! Cathy and I plan to tandem over Kelly Stand Gap, a 2200ft dirt road climb through a gorge. It is one of the most scenic gap climbs I've ridden in Vermont. The loop comes back past Stratton Ski Area with a bombing descent into Manchester. About 48 miles, 5000ft of climbing. Hope the weather cooperates.