NORTH ADAMS -- Almost 200 bicyclists raced against the clock in Saturday's fourth annual Mount Greylock Hillclimb Time Trial to be the fastest to climb to the 3,491 foot summit.
The 9.1-mile race, organized by the Northampton Cycling Club, began at the Western Gateway Heritage State Park and ended at Bascom Lodge on Mount Greylock's summit after winding through hairpin turns, 17-percent up-hill grades and dense mountain fog laced with mist.
"Why do I get up at 5:30 in the morning just to come and suffer?" said cyclist Bob Ethier, 45, of Florence, after reaching the summit Saturday morning.
The Northampton Cycling Club organized its first Mount Greylock Hillclimb Time Trial as a way for bicyclists to test their individual endurance. Unlike other bicycle races where the riders start at the same time and use a combination of strategy and skill to win, during time trials they start at 30-second intervals, racing only against time.
"It's your effort alone. You have to have a large amount of endurance," said Silke Wunderwald, one of the cyclists who competed Saturday.
Wunderwald finished the hill climb in 47.01 minutes, which earned the 42 year-old Hopkinton, Rhode Island resident a spot on the podium as the fastest woman bicyclist during the race. She began competitive cycling in 2006. "It is a great accomplishment," she said.
Timothy Ahearn, 38, of Woodstock, Conn., was the overall winner. He made the ascent in 39.47 minutes, setting a course record, according to race organizers.
"It's a tough climb and a good way to end my season," Ahearn said.
According to Race Director Mike McCusker, 197 cyclists registered for the race ranging in age from 11 to 78, drawing individuals and teams from from across the state, New England and from as far away as Maryland.
The Greylock Hillclimb Time Trial is part of an 11-race series on 10 different mountains in the Northeast organized by the Biking Up Mountain Point Series (BUMP). The series includes climbs up the 3,522-foot Whiteface Mountain in New York, and a 4,720 foot climb up the highest peak on the East Coast, New Hampshire's Mount Washington.
Northampton Cycling Club approached BUMP five years ago as a way to draw enough cyclists to compete in the race, according to Tom Hoogendyk, a member of the club's board. The club wanted to attract people to Massachusetts' tallest peak.
"We wanted to have a big race to match Greylock's stature," he said.
The nonprofit organization was founded 10 years ago to promote fun and fitness through bicycling, according to the club's website. Besides holding the hillclimb and other the races, the Northampton Cycling Club is hosting its sixth annual BikeFest tour of the Pioneer Valley on Sept. 21. That event includes a bicycle tour, barbecue with craft beers, and a pro-BMX show.
Saturday's race event ended with an award ceremony at the Western Gateway Heritage State Park, with Freight Yard Pub provided nourishment and Berkshire Brewing Company provided refreshments to the weary competitors.
The results of Saturday's race can be found at http://www.nohobikeclub.org/nccwp/?general=greylock-hillclimb-results-2013.