Gear Up for Lyme, which is presented by the Manchester Rotary Club, drew a varied crowd of riders this year, from top finisher Erik Levinsohn to locals Amy and Robin Verner, who all had one goal, to get to the top.
For riders like Levinsohn and top female finisher Marti Shea, Gear Up for Lyme was all about time. Gear Up for Lyme is a race on the Bike Up the Mountain Points Series (BUMPS) circuit, which sees riders climp up ten mountains in the northeast. On the BUMPS
"I seem to do well on mountainous terrain," said Levinsohn. "It was certainly a race that was suited to my strengths."
"Mt. Equinox is probably the toughest road you can climb within the 100 miles of Williamstown, where I live. The other aspect is that it is an incredibly well-run race and incredibly friendly and supportive and it's a great atmosphere. That's something I wanted to take advantage of and be a part of," said Levinsohn.
The 22-year-old finished almost four minutes ahead on the second place
"You go out and race your own race and if you have anything left in the tank at the end then you didn't do it right," said Levinsohn. "I was in a whole lot of pain when I crossed that finish line, that was the signal I had that things went well."
Levinsohn was not the only rider who left his mark on the race. Marti Shea finished in fourth place, the top finish for a woman in the nine years of Gear Up for Lyme. Shea crossed the finish line in just under 42 minutes.
"I really focused more on this race this year," said Shea, who competed in the race for the BUMPS series. "At a couple of the races this year I have finished fourth in. I am really trying to get on the podium with the men, that's my goal. One of these days it will happen."
While for riders like Levinsohn and Shea, Gear Up for Lyme is about the race, for some local riders, it is more about the climb. First time participant Amy Verner decided to do the race this year to support the Rotary Club and lyme disease awareness.
"It's a very hard mountain to do," said Verner. "We just did it and just talked going up the mountain. For us it was just a ride for lyme disease, not a race."
Verner, who owns Battenkill Sports Bicycle Shop with her husband Robin, did the race to get to the top, not worrying about time, just looking to enjoy Mt. Equinox.
"It was fun to do," said Verner. "The goal was to complete it and complete it in less than two hours. Robin and I ended up just talking about how beautiful it was, the views are just spectacular. It's just different doing it on your bicycle."
Holzman is looking to add more people like the Verners to the race next year, riders who just want to bike up the mountain without having to worry about the race. That is one of the things that Gear Up for Lyme hopes to improve on next year, along with taking advantage of the new visitors center currently under construction on the top of the mountain. As the race continues to every year, the message about lyme disease continues to get out, spreading to those who come to the race without the knowledge of what it is raising money for.
"You're not just competing for yourself, your also trying to promote a good cause," said Levinsohn. "I had an absolutely great weekend, it was a beautiful day. I am really thankful to everyone who put it on, it was an amazing day."
For more information, go to www.gearupforlyme.com.