WILMINGTON - Cyclist Tim Ahearn cruised up New York state's fifth highest mountain Saturday to take first place in the Whiteface Mountain Uphill Bike Race.
The 37-year-old from Woodstock, Conn. finished the 11-mile course that climbs more than 3,500 feet up Whiteface Veterans Memorial Highway in 52 minutes and 45 seconds.
The trip was Ahearn's first time up the 4,867-foot mountain.
Tim Ahearn of Woodstock, Conn. closes in on the finish line to win the Whiteface Mountain Uphill Bike Race on Saturday.
(Enterprise photo — Mike Lynch)
"I was told some of the steepest stuff was at the beginning but that doesn't seem true, at least the way I felt it," he said. "It seemed like the steepest stuff was in the middle. I've done Mount Washington and this isn't anywhere near as tough as that, but I was surprised a little bit toward the end that it was as tough as it was really."
Ahearn said his strategy was not to overexert himself during the race at any particular point.
"I tried to just do a steady effort as opposed to a lot of times you just go off really fast and then you die at the end," he said. "I just tried to be a little steadier throughout. That's how I approached it. It's a beautiful climb. I actually tried to look around when I was going up. I've never been up here. It's beautiful."
Second place went to Gerry Clapper of Avon, Conn., who finished in 53:12. Cory Burns of Watertown came in third in 55:17.
Fourth place went to Marti Shea, who was also the first female across the finish line. The Marblehead, Mass. woman had a time of 56:04. Sue Schlatter of Ottawa took second in 58:08 while Kim Ulandt of Somerville, Mass., finished third in 58:41.
Shea said she felt good during the race and that she was using it for a warmup for the National Elite Time Trial Championships in Augusta, Ga. on Thursday.
"I felt really strong," she said. "I definitely feel like if I had to push harder I could have. So this is kind of a good feeling to feel that strong. I did it last year and I did it a couple of years ago. I'm definitely a lot faster than even last year."
This year's version of the race was actually harder than previous years because the organizers tacked on 3 miles to the beginning, making bikers start at the Whiteface Mountain Ski Area instead of in Wilmington.
Chad Tavernia, a Malone resident who is a member of Team Placid Planet, was one of the top local finishers. He came in 21st with a time of 1:01:35.
Asked about the challenges of doing this uphill race, he said "it's more mental than anything else, just having the mental fortitude to stick with it and keep mashing the pedals even though you feel like quitting. So just staying in the game mentally is a big thing."
Lake Placid's Rosanna Van Dorn finished 53rd overall in 1:05:51 and first in the 30- to 39-year-old women's category. Matt Young of Lake Placid finished 100th in 1:10:31.
Dan Reilly of Saranac Lake finished 132nd overall in 1:13:28. Floyd Lampart of Lake Clear finished 146th in 1:15:08 and fourth in the men's 60- to 69-year-old category.
Richard Erenstone of Lake Placid finished 154th overall and fifth in the men's 60 to 69 category.
Betsy Richert of Keene finished 155th in 1:16:55 and Lake Placid's Donna Moody finished 190th in 1:22:09.
A total of 273 people finished the race.