The Mt. Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hill Climb is considered one of the most difficult hill climbs in the entire world thanks to average grades of 12% and extended grades as high as 22%.
Clearly, it’s a race that is not for the faint of heart, making it perfect for our CEO Jitka Borowick who has never faced a challenge in her life that she hasn’t willingly embraced. An avid cyclist, Borowick competed in last month’s hill climb, her first-ever visit to Mt. Washington, the highest peak in all of New England.
“My initial goal was to place in the top 10,” said Jitka. “Then the race started and I realized I had to temper those expectations with something more realistic – simply finish.”
The difficulty of the course was more than she had anticipated. As she struggled up one hill, she found another lay just ahead. “Several times I wanted to quit,” she admitted.
But she didn’t. Instead, she focused on the smaller picture. The next few hundred feet, followed by the next few hundred yards, followed by the next hill. She drew inspiration from her other competitors, several of whom passed her along the 7.6-mile bike route. “I thought, if they can do it, so can I,” explained Jitka. “Often times in life, others push you to great heights. That’s exactly what happened on Mt. Washington.”
Towards the end of the climb, the hills got steeper. That is when Jitka started pedaling faster, gaining more energy as the cheering of the crowds grew louder. Out of 599 entrants, Jitka was one of 444 to finish the race. Her time of 1:32:56 was good enough for 177th place; she finished fourth in her division.
“When the race finished, I didn’t care about my time or where I placed. I was excited that I had finished,” she said. “I had this indescribable feeling like I could accomplish anything.”
Jitka said the race was a reminder of the figurative mountains each of us has to climb in life. “Instead of looking at the larger picture, we should all focus on tackling those smaller tasks that will help us reach the mountaintop,” she said. “When I first came to America from the Czech Republic in 2003, I spoke very little English. But slowly, with dedication, passion, and the support of others, I began to make progress. It didn’t happen overnight. It took time, patience, and commitment.”
Reflecting on her other personal achievements – launching and growing Cleangreen, for example – required Jitka to follow a similar approach. “Success hasn’t happened overnight,” she said. “At one time, it was just me. I started by cleaning one home; then another; then another. Each client, each home, represented a figurative hill I had climbed. But I knew I couldn’t stop. I had to keep pushing forward. Once we conquer one mountain in life, there are more waiting on the horizon.
“What the Mt. Washington Hill Climb taught me is that no mountain is insurmountable in life,” Jitka continued. “We are all possible of great things. But we must keep pedaling and pushing, and never stop.”
Are you a youth interested in bicycling? In 2015, Cleangreen partnered with Sea Sports to form DEVO Cycling Club Cape Cod, a program that offers mentorship and coaching to juniors who have an interest in the sport of cycling. Click here to learn more about this program and our commitment to providing access to the sport through a bike loan program; race fee reimbursement; and a clothing and uniform allowance.