Mount Equinox, VT – This course climbs Skyline Drive to the summit of Equinox Mountain. Bikes have not been allowed on this private auto road for many years. The Gear Up for Lyme race in 2004 was the first chance for hillclimbers to test their mettle on this beast. They say the road to Equinox Mountain’s summit has a short 28% grade section, but when I raced this mountain, I never had the impression that any stretch was steeper than 15, perhaps 16%.
The climb has one brief, fast descent the prevents it from being a truly monotonic climb. For the last few years, a $500 cash prime has been offered for the first ride to pass the one-mile mark. $500 for a mile? How hard could that be? Oh, to collect the prize, you must also finish the race within a cutoff window.
The view from the summit is spectacular. Mt Equinox is steep and one of the highest peaks around, so great views abound from several vantage points, especially from the open ridgeline leading to the summit. The road is smoothly paved, tollbooth to the summit. Unfortunately, like Mt Washington, cyclists are not allowed to ride their bikes back down.
This bike climb is an exclusive race that only takes place once a year. At this time the roads are blocked off to traffic while bikers take center stage and can test their challenges in an amazing event that benefits the community and Lyme disease research.
This is definitely a challenging climb that will test your muscles with every pedal you take. It’s a 5.4-mile cycling race that brings you from the bottom of the scenic mountain up to the top. You’ll be traveling along Mt. Equinox Skyline Drive to make it to the summit.
The average grade on your way up is 12% overall, which is equivalent to Mt. Washington’s average grade. There is just one hill to challenge here and it can only be done on one day of the year. The beginning elevation is 652 feet above sea level and the ending elevation lies at 3,849 feet above sea level. The total elevation gain is 3,173 feet on this 5.4-mile cycling adventure.
Up until 2004, the road leading to the summit was closed to cyclists and only motorized vehicles could use it. The first race was held in 2004 giving cyclists the opportunity to get in the saddle to defeat this monster.
Since then it has become a significant event that draws in climbers from around the nation. If you want to spend some time spinning your way to the top or just want to take part in a biking event to say that you’ve accomplished another mountain, this is a great race that gives you boasting rights once you’ve made it to the top.
One of the best prizes that you could ever receive with this challenge is the view from the top. This is a spectacular view since Mt. Equinox has one of the highest peaks in the areas.
You’ll be able to look down and appreciate Mother Nature at its finest when you’re done the event and you’ll also be surrounded by a breathtaking view when you’re on your way up.
Following the Race
It starts at 8 am for riders under 29 years of age, at 8:05 am for riders between the ages of 30 to 49 and at 8:10 am for riders that are 50 and older with registration ongoing from 6 am until 7:15 am.
There is an awards ceremony and a fantastic barbecue starting at 11:30 am that takes place at the Welcome Center. Cyclists eat for free and the food fair is much appreciated after the expending all that energy first thing in the morning.
Getting Down The Mountain
Unfortunately, you are not going to be able to ride your bike back down the mountain. You won’t be able to walk it down either so you’ll have to have a ride arranged for a pickup. Carpooling is greatly encouraged since there aren’t that many parking spots available.
Needing a pickup is the only downfall to this race, however, that we could see. Since it is stated upfront that you can’t ride down there is no disappointment to be found with the cyclists that have decided to participate.
Mount Equinox is based in beautiful Manchester, Vermont and while you’re striving to do your best and enjoying the scenery as much as the challenge, you’ll also be contributing to a fantastic cause.