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Tour d'Apple adapts to covid-19

Cyclists registered for the Tour d'Apple will receive a complimentary Tour buff for use as a face covering in lieu of a face mask, required on Labor Day at Blue Ridge Community College and all Tour rest stops. The Tour buff doubles as a neck cooler with a Cyclists registered for the Tour d'Apple will receive a complimentary Tour buff for use as a face covering in lieu of a face mask, required on Labor Day at Blue Ridge Community College and all Tour rest stops. The Tour buff doubles as a neck cooler with a

Unlike so many canceled events, the eighth annual Tour d’Apple will take off on Labor Day, Sept. 7, with a limited field of cyclists, staggered starts and covid-19 precautions.

Over the past few months, the Four Seasons Rotary Club and iDaph Events have put together event safety plans to move forward in the new format to ensure social-distancing measures recommended by the CDC. Sign up here.

“We aim to have a ‘contactless’ event to provide a safe event for all,” said tour co-director and Four Seasons Rotary member Barry Macdonald. “We are so fortunate to have Daphne Kirkwood and the iDaph Events specialists managing our event. Daphne has recently run several athletic events where volunteers and athletes all praised her event for adhering to social-distancing guidelines.”

“One triathlete recently told me she felt safer at our iDaph event than at her local grocery store,” Kirkwood said.“That's great to hear. We are taking this virus very seriously, and we want all cyclists and volunteers to feel comfortable, so we’re putting in place many guidelines recommended by the USA Cycling Association.”

To accommodate published guidelines, Tour d’Apple will limit the number of cyclists to 350 this year, about half the more than 650 who participated in 2019. The Tour’s spectacular traditional mass roll-out will give way to cyclists pedaling away from BRCC individually between 7 and 10 a.m. on Labor Day. Other changes include a drive-up “stay in your car” bib and swag pick-up from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday afternoon, Sept. 6, at BRCC. Cyclists can also opt for a "virtual" ride for the Tour where they can ride a route on their own schedule.

For the in-person event on Labor Day, cyclists and volunteers must wear face masks or a Tour buff and honor 6-foot social distancing at the College and the Tour's four rest stops. The Tour’s Chick-fil-A post-ride meal will be served in a “pick up and leave” manner with no sit-down option.

“Our community needs the Tour d’Apple to help with recovery from the chaos caused by the virus, which has caused cancellation of so many athletic and other events in western North Carolina,” Four Seasons Rotary President Chris Johnson said. “We are working very closely with iDaph Events to fulfill appropriate guidelines, and we’re certain that with their experience and success in recent events, we can run the Tour d’Apple so that both cyclists and volunteers will feel comfortable and enjoy the great tradition of this unique event without worry.”

The event, presented by Hunter Subaru, features the epic Honeycrisp Century, called the Hunter Subaru Hundred by some, with 100 miles of heart-pounding climbs through Henderson County’s steep mountain roads followed by gentle cruises along many of the county’s apple orchards.

With climbs up Lamb Mountain Road and Bearwallow Mountain, then up Cabin Creek Road to the top of Pinnacle Mountain, cyclists garner more than 7,500 feet of ascent before they crank up to Jump Off Rock as their uphill finale, completing more than 8,400 feet of climbing.

The 100-k Gala Metric Route covers 65 miles and nearly 5,000 feet of ascent. The Tour’s most popular route, the classic metric ride includes Lamb Mountain and Bearwallow Mountain, with the additional challenge of Terry’s Gap.

The second most popular route, the Jonagold Lite 45-mile route, gives cyclists a great ride with 2,200 feet of ascent. The Tour’s Green Apple 25 challenges younger and newer cyclists, many of whom will ride their first charity cycling event on Labor Day.
“We are excited that already this year, cyclists have donated more than $500 in addition to their registration fees,” Johnson said. “Last year we used the cyclists’ extra donations for new back-to-school shoes for local children through Interfaith Assistance Ministry in Hendersonville. Those cyclists will never meet the new owners of those new shoes, but they know that 100 percent of their extra donations went for a worthy purpose.”

Four Seasons Rotary also used some of last year’s proceeds to purchase new playground equipment for Four Seasons Rotary Park on South Allen Street. The upgrades to the park were also funded in part by a matching grant from Rotary District 7670 as part of a project in memory of longtime Rotarian and pediatrician, the late Dr. Jim Volk. Proceeds also purchased books for Henderson County PublicSchools, and provided scholarships and student emergency funds at Blue Ridge Community College.

As the presenting sponsor, Hunter Subaru will again provide several Subaru Outbacks as Support And Gear (SAG) cars to aid and assist cyclists on the Tour. “We thank Randy Hunter and Subaru for their eight years as a major Tour sponsor; they really make this event possible,” praised Macdonald. Other sponsors include local businesses Formation PR, R.W. Baird Wealth Management, First Bank, Home Trust Bank, Mountain Inn and Suites, Ingles Markets, Emerge Ortho, AAA Storage World, Chick-fil-A, and Mountain Valley Spring Water. Sycamore Bicycles and Asheville Bicycle Company provide rest-stop mechanics, while Liberty Bicycles will also provide SAG support.

The Sheriff’s Volunteers in Partnership, led by Maj. Dale Coerver, along with several sheriff’s deputies and Hendersonville police, provide traffic control at a dozen intersections. A number of volunteer course marshals will assist cyclists in staying on their chosen routes.

Interested cyclists may find additional information and register for the Tour at www.tourdapple.com. Anyone interested in being a volunteer should email tourdapple@gmail.com.