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Hillclimb returns to Gunstock during Bike Week

by Bob Martin
Sports Reporter - Gilford Steamer, WInnisquam Echo, Meredith News

Six-year-old Dominic Linde rides a 50cc dirt bike up the hill during the Gunstock Hillclimb last week. Bob Martin. (click for larger version)
June 19, 2017
GILFORD — After a five-year absence, the Gunstock Hillclimb returned to the ski jump at Gunstock where thousands of people cheered on motorcycle riders as they attempted to reach the top of the steep hill of more than 400 feet.

The event took place on Wednesday of Laconia Motorcycle Week and was sponsored by Ridge Runner Promotions. Throughout the day hundreds of riders of all ages blasted up the hill, some reaching the top and others skidding their way up as far as they could go.

Organizer Mike Farnsworth said he was happy that the event was back at the ski jump at Gunstock, and was pleased to see the massive crowd enjoying every moment of the event.

"It feels great to be back here and be part of the Laconia Motorcycle group again," said Farnsworth. "We did take it out of here for five years and we are glad to have it back here. Everything has been transitionally smooth and we have even made progress to sustain this hill for years to come."

Ridge Runners was formed in 1984 and they started promoting hillclimbing the following year. Farnsworth described the organization as a "top notch, long standing club across the country." The club is based out of Canaan, which is where the hillclimb moved to for several years.

The event is sanctioned by the American Motorcycle Association.

The event can be a family affair- not just in the audience with people from all over watching, but also with the riders themselves. One example is the Linde family, which includes Justin and his six-year-old son Dominic and 11-year-old daughter Abigayle. Dominic has been riding since he was three years old and Abigayle has been riding since she was five.

Brandy Linde, Justin's wife, and Dominic and Abigayle's mother, explained that they love riding as a family. However, it goes beyond blood family. She said that the riders around them have become an extended family they see at other hill climbs, as well.

Kyle Gerard, 22, has been riding since he was seven years old and said he loves the event.

"It's a great time here," said Gerard. "I used to do events for points but now I'm doing it for fun."

Gunstock General Manager Greg Goddard had similar sentiments as Farnsworth, saying he couldn't be more pleased with the hillclimb coming back to Gunstock. Goddard, who rides a motorcycle himself but said he has never attempted something like a hillclimb, said he loves coming out to watch the bikes of all different types blast their way up the hill.

Goddard said it was a great way to kick off the 80th birthday of Gunstock. He said this is another part of moving Gunstock into the direction of being a four-season destination rather than just a ski mountain. The mountain has an adventure park, zip lining and a mountain coaster, as well as various special events such as SoulFest, which takes place in August.

"We couldn't be more delighted," said Goddard. "This is where the hillclimb belongs. It should have never left. We are happy to get it back and work with Ride Runners again. These guys put on a great show."

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