2016 Hill Climb National Championship Recap

Saturday, August 13, 2016, was the first USA Cycling Hill Climb National Championship, held in conjunction with The Broadmoor Pikes Peak Cycling Hill Climb Gran Fondo. The “Hill:” Pikes Peak. Over 180 riders competed to be the first to get to the top of America’s Mountain. They started just above Crystal Reservoir at about 9390ft elevation (the same starting line of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb) and made their about 20km to the summit of 14,115ft. The average grade is about 7%.

Sunrise at the USA Cycling 2016 Hill Climb National Championships on Pikes Peak
Many athletes arrived before sunrise.

 

One athlete uses a ladder to warm up for the 2016 USA Cycling Hill Climb National Championships on Pikes Peak.
One way to warm-up for a hill climb!

The athletes started in waves, with the Gran Fondo (no official times) women and juniors starting first at 6:30am, and the final wave of Pro/Open Men at 7:20. The weather was probably as perfect as you’d get – sunny and clear, and very little wind. The race was announced by one of Colorado’s best, Dave Towle.

Riders of the 2016 USA Cycling Hill Climb National Championship head to the starting line. Pikes Peak in full view.
Riders head to the start line. They are headed to the top of that mountain.

The spectators didn’t have a way up to the top, as the road was closed to the public, so they congregated in the open area near the start where the awards would take place (by the free coffee!), or in their cars to stay warm. As there was very little communication of how the race was playing out, the supporters waited in nervous anticipation on how their athletes were doing, especially the parents of the junior competitors.

Not a bad view while we wait for results.
Not a bad view while we wait for results.

The athletes had the option to ride back down (warmer gear was shuttled to the top) or take a shuttle down. Once each category had their winners back at to the awards area, the ceremony took places. 

The winner jerseys and medals to be handed out at the 2016 USA Cycling Hill Climb National Championships on Pikes Peak.
Jerseys and medals to be awarded

National Championship medals and jerseys were awarded to all the age group categories. The Pro/Open men’s winner was Leroy Popowski of Colorado Springs with a time of 1:10:13. He’s a local climbing legend and holds the record time of 1:08:36. The Pro/Open women’s winner was Kristal Doebel-Hickok with a time of 1:25:26.

Clark Rachfal wins the blind/tandem division at the 2016 USA Cycling Hill Climb National Championships on Pikes Peak
Clark Rachfal wins the blind/tandem division.

While the 50-59 men’s category was the largest of the age groups with 33, followed closely by the 32 athletes in the M 40-49 group. The M 60-69 category had a respectable 18, and there were 9 in the 70+. The largest women’s age group was the 50-59, with 8 competitors. (Let’s even this up a bit next year, ladies!) The women’s Pro/Open group had 17, and the men had 34.

 

See the Full Results.

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