Riders ripped it up at the Gunstock Hill Climb, annually one of the biggest attractions at the Laconia Motorcycle Rally.
“You never know what you’re going to see here.”
These words spoken by a fan at the Gunstock Hill Climb Wednesday would soon ring true when two young men lined up at the bottom of the hill in a golf cart, ready to make their dash up the mountain. Laughter erupted as the duo floored it, chugging up the first rise. As the golf cart continued its ascent, the laughter turned to cheers as they crested the second hump, egging the crowd on with fist pumps in the air. Amazingly, the golf cart made it to the top of the almost 500 foot climb as their escapades provided a comedic interlude to the serious competition that gathered at Gunstock for the 19th annual Hill Climb at the 2011 Laconia Motorcycle Rally.
Almost 200 racers would give it their all in numerous classes, from youngsters on 50 to 85cc dirt bikes who needed blocks to stand on to get started to the over 750cc open class. The event brings out some of the best off-road riders around New England, including defending champion Favian Stroud and multi-class winner Ryan Connelly who was eager to dethrone the standing “King of the Hill.” Stroud used a nitrous-fed Arctic Cat snowmobile to blast up the hill in 8.48 seconds in 2010 and was ready to bring it again this year.
The event features side-by-side drag races up 30-foot wide lanes on the Ram Rod course at Gunstock Resort. Racers dig small trenches to back their paddled wheels in before revving up and dumping clutches on high torque machines to launch up the hill. It’s all about throttle control, though, because a handful of overzealous throttle junkies looped their
Quads with extended swingarms and sport bike engines flew up the hill.
The sleds were the star attractions at the 19th Annual Gunstock Hill Climbs.
And the winner for ‘Best Hat’ goes to …
bikes straight out of the gates. After the launch it’s all about banging through a couple of gears to gain the momentum needed to complete the ascent.
The event got off to somewhat of a slow start, but as the sun came out and provided the best day yet at Laconia, the mountainside filled with thousands of fans. It’s a big social gathering as locals came prepared with lawn chairs and coolers, ready to stake out their favorite viewing spot. The Gunstock Hill Climbs are a multi-generational affair, with fathers racing alongside their sons and daughters. The girls were giving the hill hell, racing with the same abandon as the boys. A big spill in the first round of the Women’s Class caused everything to a halt momentarily, one of several accidents that brought out emergency crews on the day.
Meanwhile, the record-setters of tomorrow elicited some of the biggest cheers from the crowd. The thrill of hill climbing is introduced at an early age as some of the competitors in the 50cc class stood no more than waist high. But given the “Go” signal, the youngsters attacked the hill with fortitude beyond their years as the crowd cheered them all the way to the finish line.
The star attractions of the day, though, were the sleds. The crowd rose and pressed closer to the orange safety fencing when the modified snowmobiles took to the course. And with good reason. One competitor was hauling uphill so fast he nearly cleared the finish line in the air coming off the third and final jump. Racers use special skis with small wheels to climb up the grass course.
The annual event, presented by Ridge Runner Promotions, provided fans with hours of entertaining action and was once again one of the biggest draws at the Laconia Motorcycle Rally.