GORHAM - Cameron Cogburn of Cambridge, Mass., and Marti Shea of Marblehead, Mass., repeated past successes on Saturday by winning Newton's Revenge, a 7.6-mile bike race up the supremely steep Mount Washington Auto Road.
Cogburn, 28, a professional cyclist on leave from graduate studies in astrophysics at MIT, completed this ascent of the highest peak in the northeastern U.S. in 53 minutes, 12 seconds - nearly three minutes faster than his time when he won the same race in 2012, but slower than he had hoped.
But the race had plenty more Granite State flavor.
Chasing Cogburn for as long as possible was 19-year-old Chad Young of Newmarket, whose cycling career is already deep enough to have earned him the ranking of a Category 1 rider, the highest official amateur rank. Young, who first raced up the Auto Road at age 15 and was making his fifth appearance on this daunting course, finished third overall and first among New Hampshire riders, in a time of 55 minutes, 54 seconds.
Shea, 51, and as competitive as when she was an all-America distance runner 30 years ago at Boston University, was the first female rider to cross the finish line. She reached the mountain's 6,288-foot summit in 1 hour, 5 minutes, 53 seconds, placing sixth overall in the field of 157 riders. Shea us a native of Manchester and graduate of Manchester Memorial High School.
Shannon Kamieneski, 38, of Manchester, was the first female finisher from the Granite State and 10th woman overall, in 1:38:33.
Cogburn has raced up the Auto Road four times now - twice in Newton's Revenge, twice in the Mount Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb held in August on the same course - and won all four times, but he fell short of one goal today. He had hoped to break the course record of 49 minutes, 24 seconds, set in 2002 by Tom Danielson of Connecticut. Last year in the Hillclimb, he recorded a personal best of 50:48.
That hope disappeared in the first mile, when the chain fell off his bike's sprocket and he had to dismount and reattach the chain before continuing the climb. Meanwhile, Erik Follen, 39, of Sanford, Maine, Chris Yura, 35, of Bryn Mawr, Pa., and 19-year-old Chad Young of Newmarket, all pedaled past Cogburn.
Cogburn soon overtook Yura and Young, but Follen held the lead for six miles before Cogburn finally overtook him high above the mountain's tree line. Follen was runnerup in 54:08, four minutes faster than his time in this race last year - when he was also runnerup.
Of the dropped chain Cogburn remarked afterward, "When something like that happens, you kind of lose motivation. But I'm glad I won."
Young, who passed Yura to take third overall, was the first finisher from New Hampshire. Having first raced up the Auto Road at the age of 15, he said his goal today was to finish in under 56 minutes. He reached that goal with six seconds to spare, clocking 55:54.
Shea, like Cogburn, returned to this race after a year's absence, and she resumed her string of undefeated appearances, winning this grueling event for the seventh time in as many attempts. She has also won the Mount Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb the last three times she has competed in it - 2010, 2011 and 2012.
In 2012 she rode faster, clocking a 1:03:14 in the Hillclimb, but of Saturday's race she said, "I'm very happy with my time. Riding this race is good for me. I use it to find out where I'm at" in terms of conditioning. Shea plans to compete on Mount Washington again at this year's Hillclimb, hoping to ride faster.So does Cogburn.
"I'm always better in August," he quipped as he cooled down at the mountain's top.
A return appearance next month will depend on how well he can coordinate the Mount Washington schedule with the U.S. Cycling Pro Challenge, held in August in Colorado.Shea and Cogburn each won $1,500.
Last year's Hillclimb women's winner Silke Wunderwald, 42, of Hopkinton, R.I., took second behind Shea, in 1:11:56.
"I was right behind Marti at the start," said Wunderwald, "and I thought maybe I could stay on her wheel, but that lasted only about half a mile. Then she was gone."