The 5th Annual Ashcroft Hellclimb was held on Sun. June 29. This year there were 36 cyclists challenging the 18km climb of 3000 feet from Ashcroft to the brake check at the top of the hill leading down to Ashcroft from Logan Lake.
Each year this event becomes known to more and more cyclists, with some challenging themselves accomplish the climb itself, and some challenging each other to see who makes it to the top first.
Right after the start a small group of four riders from the Interior Grasslands Cycling Club broke into the lead, which they maintained until the steep section on the hill by the turnoff to the Sundance Guest Ranch. An attack was made by the leader, and suddenly the group of four was down to two. These two cyclists battled it out until the top, with Aaron Weiss of Kamloops leading with a time of 51 minutes.
Melissa Lowenberg of Kamloops came in first among the women with a time of 62 minutes, and was able to maintain the “Queen of the Mountain” status she also received last year.
Melissa is a very accomplished cyclist and triathlete who went to the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii last year. She used the Hellclimb as a training ride to help her qualify once again to go to Kona after she races the Ironman in Whistler in July.
This event attracts so many different people from all different age and skill levels. Participants included a boy of 14 and a man of nearly 80, while two paraplegic athletes tackled the hill as well.
Some of this year’s cyclists ride almost 10,000 kms a year, while at least one hadn’t ridden their bike since last year’s hellclimb. There was even one local who brought his dog, although a special rule for him was that his dog couldn’t pull him up the hill!
There were many local athletes, as well as others from Kamloops, Vernon, and Kelowna. They all have one thing in common, though: they want to get to the top. The Hellclimb is one of the steepest paved climbs in the province.
After the event everyone headed down to the Heritage Park on Railway for a barbecue, with awards and some good old-fashioned mingling. All of them had a great time, and will return next year for the 6th Annual Ashcroft Hellclimb.
A special thank you goes out to Spoke ‘N Motion of Kamloops for donating some draw prizes, as well as to Ian Aitken and my family for volunteering to assist with the event. With their help I was able to race this year, and made a personal record time of 55 minutes for a 4th place finish.