Story and photos by Nolan Baker
The 2023 Mt. Baker Hill Climb was a rousing success atop Artist Point on Sunday, September 17.
Hundreds of cyclists from among the Pacific Northwest and around the world attended the sold out race. Starting from the forested ski town of Glacier, these daring cyclists push themselves 4,462 feet up Mt. Baker Highway (SR542) in a rare, closed-course road race.
Headlining the event was retired professional cyclist Phil Gaimon, who raced for elite-level UCI World Teams Garmin-Sharp and Cannondale before hanging up the cycling shoes in 2016. Gaimon, who gave a Q&A interview to Mount Baker Experience after announcing his intent to compete in the hill climb, has written two books on his time in the peloton, “Pro Cycling on $10 a Day: From Fat Kid to Euro Pro” and “Draft Animals: Living the Pro Cycling Dream (Once in a While)” and now runs a popular YouTube channel found at youtube.com/@worstretirementever.
“[The race] went better than I thought, to be honest,” Gaimon said. “The pack part was super safe, I was nervous about the beginning in the flat part, but a couple of guys set a really good pace and once we hit the switchbacks, it was every man doing their own pace.”
Climbing those switchbacks is exactly what sets Gaimon apart from the rest of the cycling world, posting a winning time of 1:14:42. After the medal ceremony, Gaimon was swarmed by a gaggle of fans. One told Gaimon it was an honor to be passed by him.
“Everybody’s so nice and cool,” Gaimon said. “I mean, people who ride bikes are all awesome, but this is just a good collection of them.”
Gaimon was trailed by Canadians Robin Watson with a 1:16:51 finish time, and Manuel Fehlmann at 1:16:51. Alesha Miller won first place among female racers with a 1:30:27 finish time. She was winged on the podium by second place finisher Ellexi Snover (1:33:01) and Brooke Davis (1:36:42).
“I think we got lucky with the weather,” said Gaimon, who hails from Woodland Hills, California. “I’m told the weather up here is really bad, but I don’t believe you.” X