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WNC Flyer kicks off bicycling season Sunday

Never before has Western North Carolina offered so many opportunities for those who prefer two wheels.

Festivals, weekly organized rides and Western North Carolina’s own version of the Tour de France are just a few ways to explore what the mountains have to offer. Novice or expert, young or old, the potential for freshly discovered routes and newfound comrades are countless.

Joe Sanders, vice president of the Blue Ridge Bicycle Club, says his organization has experienced substantial growth in interest and membership. The club is open to anyone of any skill level, with annual dues as low as $10 for students and veterans, to $25 for singles and $30 for families. BRBC membership brings several benefits, including access to almost 10,000 miles of routes in WNC. Accessible on line, each ride has a map, elevation profile and turn-by-turn instructions — called a cue sheet.

“Membership not only unlocks access to these cue sheets, but the club maintains secondary insurance for riders,” Sanders says. “Should something happen on a ride our insurance kicks in to help pay deductibles and other out-of-pocket expenses.” Sanders emphasizes this important advantage, along with receiving the club newsletter and discounts at participating local bike shops.

A non-profit organization run by volunteers, Blue Ridge Bicycle Club has a goal of making cycling safe for everyone.
“Since 2004 we have contributed more than $300,000 to the communities we serve,” says Sanders. “We want to encourage more people to think of using a bicycle for not only recreation, but also transportation.”

The club has initiated a new monthly ride, which starts at 6 p.m. on the second Thursday at the Hendersonville YMCA. The route follows low traffic roads up Laurel Park for 20 miles with Jump Off Rock as the breathtaking destination. Sanders expresses hope for a continued rise in interest for the club, which emphasizes proper biking etiquette to maintain harmony and safety when sharing the roads.
“Local rides are posted on our website, www.blueridgebicycleclub.org, and announced through emails, and we have a Ride Library online with about 100 different routes available,” he says.


WNC Flyer is Sunday

The club’s biggest fundraiser of the year is this Sunday. The 16th annual WNC Flyer takes place on Sunday in the “Cycling Capital of the South,” at Oskar Blues Brewery in Brevard. The ride has routes for every skill level: A Century [100 miles], a Metric-Century [62 miles], a half Century [50 miles], and a half Metric-Century [30 miles]. The ride is capped at 1,000 riders and is “well supported” with six stocked rest stops and support vehicles along the routes.

There is one alteration to this year’s Flyer.
“This change will allow folks to complete one of the shorter distance options, and then make a decision if they want to tackle a section of the next, longer route,” he says. A more inclusive option for those with tired kids or sore calves and quads.

Also featuring a bluegrass band, barbecue dinner and complimentary pint at Oskar Blues, the Flyer won a Best Road Bike Event from Mountain Xpress readers. For more about the race visit wncflyer.com.


Tour d’Apple grows and grows

The seventh annual Tour d’Apple, organized by the Four Seasons Rotary Club, will be bigger than ever, says club member Dick Miley. A series of routes through apple country, waterfalls and some of the county’s most beautiful mountains are expected to draw enthusiasts of all backgrounds.
“We had a 60 percent growth in participants last year, and we’re looking forward to more growth this year,” Miley says. “Our first year we only had 200 participants, and last year 659 signed up. I think that’s a pretty good record.”
The break-down in riders among the tours, Miley adds, “is about 20 percent for the 25-mile route, 20 percent for the 100-mile route, and the remaining 60 percent is divided between the 45- and 65-mile routes,” making no tour much more crowded than any other.

He credits the growth to well organized staff members, plenty of rest stops and the many compliments from past participants. “We’ve gotten very, very good reviews from new cyclists to Tour de France cyclists, who say they love the routes because they show off our mountains and apple fields,” he says.

The ride takes place on Labor Day, Sept. 2, beginning at 8 a.m. from Blue Ridge Community College. Serious cyclists can tackle the 100-mile Honeycrisp Unbelievable Century. With 8,000 feet of ascent over Sugarloaf Mountain, Bearwallow Mountain, Pinnacle Mountain, Jump Off Rock and more, the ride has many rest-stops and even more views. The 63-mile Gala Metric Challenge is for experienced cyclists, while 45- and 25-mile rides are suitable for families or newbies.

As in past years, Miley says, “there will be a great group of sponsors, with Hunter Subaru providing rides back to the starting point if a visitor can’t quite make it all the way.”
Whether in an organized event, a ride with friends or a solo trip, bicyclists have plenty of option in the sometimes rolling and sometimes steep Blue Ridge.

“We live in a cycling paradise,” adds Miley. “We have places for people who like flat ground, and if you like mountains, well we have plenty of those too.”

SHIRTTAIL

Hundreds of bicyclists will be riding roads during the WNC Flyer Sunday in Henderson and Transylvania counties. Watch out for bikes on these roads: In Transylvania, Everett, Hart, Cascade Lake, Crab Creek, Talley; Henderson County: Pleasant Grove, River, Big Willow, Finley Cove, Finley Street, Echo Lakes Drive, Fairway Drive, Hebron, Lakeside Drive, Old Kanuga, Sugar Hollow, Kanuga Lake, Evans, Big Willow, River, Etowah School, Old Highway 64, McKinney, Brickyard, Holly Springs, Turnpike, Brannon, Ray Hill, Warlick, Banner Farm, Ladson, King, U.S. 64 West, Grove Bridge; Transylvania: Neely, Park Avenue, Parkview Drive, U.S. 276 S., Gallimore, North and South Country Club, Island Ford, Walnut Hollow, Hannah Ford, Calvert, Old Rosman Highway, Middlefork, East Fork, Barclay, Old Hendersonville Highway.

 

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