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Labor Day Tour d'Apple features 100-mile bicycle ride

Dick Miley, Ralph Freeman and Barry McDonald of  Four Seasons Rotary Club are organizing Tour d'Apple. Dick Miley, Ralph Freeman and Barry McDonald of Four Seasons Rotary Club are organizing Tour d'Apple.

Visitors to the 67th North Carolina Apple Festival can enjoy a bicycle ride along with the rest of the activities. A long bicycle ride.

The Four Seasons Rotary Club has organized the first Tour d'Apple, a series of three bicycle rides ranging from the Green Apple Easy to the Honey Crisp Unbelievable — a 100-miler that passes the county's apple orchards and features a total elevation gain of 8,000 feet in six climbs. The rides start at 8 a.m. on Labor Day, the last day of the four-day festival, at the large parking lot at BRCC.
"You'll hit your first apple orchard 400 yards after you leave BRCC," said Barry McDonald, a Four Seasons Rotary Club member and avid distance rider. "If you're not going through an orchard, you're on a mountain overlooking them."
The rides are:
• The Honey Crisp Unbelievable, a 100-mile ride that heads northeast from BRCC to Sugarloaf to Bearwallow, aims south through Terry's Gap to Zirconia, Tuxedo and Green River, climbs Pinnacle Mountain, comes back to town through Flat Rock and climbs Hebron to Jump Off Rock before heading home to BRCC. The Honey Crisp includes six major climbs.
• The Gala Challenge is a 100-kilometer (63-mile) ride that follows the northern two-thirds of the century ride before peeling off and at Flat Rock Middle School and going home.
• The Green Apple Easy is a 25-mile out-and-back ride from BRCC to a turnaround in Edneyville.
Organizers have met with EMS and law enforcement agencies for medical backup and traffic control. They expect to recruit 60 volunteers. Sag wagons will pick up pooped riders and their bikes.
The Park Ridge Tour d'Apple, sponsored by the Fletcher hospital, was created because the Four Seasons Rotarians wanted to come up with an annual fundraiser that no one else was doing in Henderson County. They've modeled the event after the successful Assault on the Carolinas sponsored by the Pisgah Forest Rotary Club.
"They have to cut theirs off at 1,000 riders," said Four Seasons member Ralph Freeman, "and they're trying to get a festival built around their ride."
Hendersonville already has a festival, committee members Freeman, McDonald and Dick Miley figured, so why not add an event on Monday. The street festival winds down on Labor Day morning, and the Four Seasons club figured they could hit the window before the King Apple parade starts at 2:30 p.m.
"We felt like we would be able to extend the Apple Festival into Monday," Freeman said. "These people come from all over the country for the Brevard ride. We'll be promoting travel and tourism."
Bicycling is gaining a higher profile all the time with plans for new greenways in Hendersonville and along the French Broad and advocates pushing for the proposed Ecusta Trail on the old rail line between Hendersonville and Brevard.
"We feel like the timing on this is really good," Freeman said. "We need sponsors. We've cut sponsorship down to a very reasonable level."
Tour d'Apple sponsorships range from $100 for a listing on the Four Seasons website to $250 for rest stop sponsorships to a $1,500 gold level, which puts the sponsor's name on the front of the bicycling jersey and gives other recognition.
For more information email tourdapple@fourseasonsrotary.org. Ride registration will be available through active.com starting in April. An event website, tourdapple.com, is in the works.