Pennsylvania Cyclist Rescued After Falling From Mount Washington Hillside

by Caitlin Berard
(Photo by Smartshots International via Getty Images)

The highest peak in the Northeastern United States, Mount Washington provides some truly grueling outdoor adventures. The towering mountain holds the record for highest measured win speed not associated with a tornado or hurricane.

In the winter, its subzero temperatures rival that of Mount Everest. And in the summer, cyclists from across the globe congregate to compete in “the world’s toughest bicycle hillclimb.”

For one Pennsylvania woman, it took neither summiting the mountain nor competing in the legendary bike race to fall victim to Mount Washington’s sharp incline.

On Sunday night, a woman was cycling along a road at the mountain’s base when the brakes on her bike failed. Unable to stop, she collided with a median and fell from the hillside, plunging approximately 20 feet before connecting with the ground.

Injured and trapped, she could do nothing but await the help of first responders. Pittsburgh EMS and firefighters soon responded to the incident. After locating the injured cyclist, they lifted her from the hillside using a backboard.

According to the report, the woman was conscious during the rescue. However, she also sustained multiple injuries, including one to her leg. First responders transported her from the base of Mount Washington to the nearby hospital, where she was admitted in serious but stable condition, according to police.

Extreme Cyclist Details ‘World’s Toughest’ Bike Race Up Mount Washington

Mount Washington is notorious for its treacherously steep inclines and unforgiving weather. Those, however, are minor details for cyclists like Mark Greenleaf, who visit the mountain every fall like clockwork for the Mount Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb.

According to Greenleaf, he and his friends first attempted the near-impossible ride on a dare. And after their first back-breaking trek up the mountain, they found themselves addicted to the punishing trail.

This year, he completed his 35th journey up Mount Washington, but even now, he can’t help but admit it’s a little insane. “I listen to myself yelling at myself,” he explained to of his inner monologue during the ride. “I argue with myself. ‘Why do you do this?'”

“With the wind chill, it’s been probably in the 20s, maybe in the teens,” the devoted cyclist said. Greenleaf added that the weather is so brutal during the ride that his legs often go numb from the wind. One year, he managed to finish mere moments before a torrential hail storm battered the riders behind him.

Lovingly referring to the race as “agonizingly rewarding,” Mark Greenleaf says he’ll keep coming back because of the unparalleled sense of accomplishment he feels crossing each finish line. “You have all this mundane crap you do all during the year and then you do this,” he explained. “At least in my experience, it makes me want to go back.”