The Count Down Has Begun!
As I put finger to keyboard, we have 10 days to go until the 4th Annual Blue Ridge Breakaway on August 17th! The planning process is hitting high gear in anticipation of another outstanding cycling event in Haywood County. As of Tuesday, August 7th, we have 322 registered riders, which have historically translated into 2.3 times that many visitors to the county. Assuming we reach our goal of 600 registered riders this year, we will likely be welcoming some 1300 individuals into the county. We know a preponderance of those folks come from well outside Haywood County and spend their hard earned dollars here.
The backbone of the Breakaway has and always will be the strong “southern hospitality” attitude of the local citizens and volunteers. Some 250+ volunteers are required to put on this county wide event each year. In addition, the support from local law enforcement has been outstanding and will be so again this year. The Breakaway is simply one more event in which local law enforcement reaches across geo-political boundaries to work well with each other. For that we are all very thankful.
The year’s event, under fair skies and cool temperatures (right?), will kick off on Friday with registration at the Bethea Welcome Center at Lake Junaluska. Given that past behavior is the best indicator of future human behavior, the center will fill up Friday evening with folks making the final decision to ride in this year’s event. Well before most Haywood residents arise on Saturday, a cadre of volunteers will be out making final clearings of roadsides and putting up directional signs for the participants.
With some pomp and circumstance, this year’s ride participants will depart under Haywood County Sherriff Greg Christopher’s protection sharply at 7:30 a.m. Local WNC cycling Olympic medalist, Lauren Tamayo from Home Trust Bank, will lead the riders onto US 276 for the first leg of the ride, which includes an ascent of Coleman Mountain for all riders at all levels. Once the riders cross the Pigeon River at the intersection of Iron Duff Road, Riverside, and Panther Creek, the real climbing begins for participants in the Century, Metric Century, and Panther routes. The rugged beauty of northern Haywood will be on display for our visitors. Over the next 7 hours, riders will complete their routes and get to bask in the feelings of great accomplishment. Hopefully few, if any, will have visited our local emergency room and be nursing road rash or worse.
So, what’s missing? YOU ARE! If you aren’t a cyclist and you aren’t volunteering, there is still a place for you! Come on out and cheer on our guests as they push themselves beyond their limits. Give a cheer to the guy or gal that tops Hyder Mountain. Ring a bell at the entrance to the Blue Ridge Parkway on NC 215 as tired legs make one more push to get to the top. Join us at the finish at Lake Junaluska to welcome in all of the riders as they celebrate their accomplishments. Oh yeah, help us celebrate another outstanding accomplishment for Haywood County!
For more information, visit http://gr8smokieszeke.blogspot.com and www.bicyclehaywoodnc.org . You may also link to Zeke’s Great Smoky Mountain 2 Wheeled Adventures under Opinion on the Mountaineer’s website.