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Science Rules at Mt. Washington

Mount Washington, n.h. — An MIT graduate student in astrophysics and a research chemist showed that scientific careers have not hampered their bicycling abilities.

Cameron Cogburn, 27, of Cambridge, Mass., and Silke Wunderwald, 42, of Hopkinton, R.I., took the top prizes Saturday in the 41st annual Mt. Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb, a 7.6-mile all-uphill race to the summit of the highest peak in the northeastern United States.

Cogburn, a former professional rider who returned to amateur status to concentrate on his studies, blasted off the starting line at the base of the Mt. Washington Auto Road and led a pack of six riders for the first two miles before pulling away and pedaling solo to a finishing time of 50 minutes, 48 seconds. That time was nearly two minutes faster than last year, when he first won this race, and within sight of the course record 49:24, set in 2002 by Tour de France racer Tom Danielson.

Cogburn’s closest pursuer was 23-year-old Erik Levinsohn, a first-year Yale medical student with extensive bike-racing success in New England. Levinsohn finished in 53:29. Third place went to Jeremiah Bishop, 37, of Harrisonburg, Virginia, in 54:24.

Wunderwald pumped her fist as she sailed through the finish in 1 hour, 9 minutes, 56 seconds, a welcome improvement on her Mt. Washington debut last year, when she finished third in 1:10:47.

A native of the Lake Constanz region of Germany, Wunderwald moved to the U.S. 20 years ago and works in research and development with Pfizer in Groton, Conn. She began competitive cycling in 2006 and in the last two years has focused on hillclimbs. The women’s runner-up was 28-year-old Stefanie Sydlik of Cambridge, Mass., in 1:12:59. Third was Line Lauritsen, 31, of McHenry, Md., in 1:14:33.

In a field of 504 finishers, the first New Hampshire riders to reach the top of Mt. Washington were Douglas Jansen, 50, of Pelham, placing 18th overall in 1:05:12 and Christine Jankins, 49, of Hampton, 237th overall in 1:30:56.

For their victories, Cogburn and Wunderwald won $1500 apiece. All proceeds from the race benefit the Tin Mountain Conservation Center in Albany, N.H., which offers classes, workshops, camps, excursions and other lessons in natural history and the environment.