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  1. #1
    Senior Member NealH's Avatar
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    Blue Ridge Breakaway the 21st

    This will be the inaugural event and, it looks like a nice one with plenty of scenic byways and, plenty of climbing (on the century route). I've ridden quite a bit of this route here and there, and the century route includes what is arguably the prettiest section of the Parkway in its entire length. With the Tour de Tuck all but cancelled this year, this BRB event appears to be a good alternate. They are offering several routes on this event. I hope to see some other East Coasters there.

    http://www.blueridgebreakaway.com/

  2. #2
    VFL For Life Velo Vol's Avatar
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    I wish I had known about this earlier. I've had an itching to get back on the Parkway and was disappointed to see no Tuck.


    Alas, I don't know that I can swing this on such short notice.

  3. #3
    Let's do a Century jppe's Avatar
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    I'm signed up. Not sure I'm in the shape I need to be in to do the century but why not......
    Ride your Ride!!

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    Climbing Above It All BikeWNC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jppe View Post
    I'm signed up. Not sure I'm in the shape I need to be in to do the century but why not......
    LOL. Then slow down and ride with us old guys in the rear.

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    I got it on calendar for next year. Climbed all of 188 feet today in a bit over 20 miles. Expect I need a bit more climbing work before the event.

  6. #6
    Climbing Above It All BikeWNC's Avatar
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    The century ride was stopped by the NPS up on the BRP due to the heavy rain and low visibility up there. Some riders were able to continue to the finish as they were far enough along. I got sagged off the mountain at Beech Gap (NC 215 and the BRP). So I rode 62 miles and climbed a little over 6K'. I think it was the correct decision by the Park Service as the rain was coming down quite hard and the possibility of hypothermia was real.

  7. #7
    VFL For Life Velo Vol's Avatar
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    That stinks.

    The organizers had a means of getting all the riders back to home base?

  8. #8
    Climbing Above It All BikeWNC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Velo Vol View Post
    That stinks.

    The organizers had a means of getting all the riders back to home base?
    There were about 25 riders up on the BRP at Beech Gap that had to be sagged down the mountain. We waited wearing trash bags for warmth until vehicles could get up there, which took about an hour. Neal and I caught a ride down when the wife of a local guy came up to get him. I think there might have been other riders elsewhere on the BRP that got a ride but they were gone by the time we drove through. It was a very well supported ride. Incredibly so given it was the first year of the event. My only complaints were the t-shirt wasn't very nice and they ran out of BBQ sauce at lunch. Everything else was just great. Put it on your calendar for next 8/20.

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    I estimate that maybe about 1/4 to a 1/3 of the full century riders either finished the ride or bailed at Balsam Gap . There was one local on the ride that lead a group of 8 down from Balsam Gap back down through Waynesville to Lake Junaluska. I understand there was one rider that was taken to the hospital for hypothermia. My wife was working one of the rest stops in the valley and they worked to organized volunteers to drive up 215 and shuttle riders & bikes back to the start. Basically they were getting riders from Beech Gap, off highway 215, off the Parkway, and from the stop at Lake Logan.

  10. #10
    Let's do a Century jppe's Avatar
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    Andy and Neal-I looked for you guys but didn't see you. Sorry to have missed you.

    My goodness I've never ridden in as much and as hard a rain like that for so long. It started raining on me just before the BRP--never let up--rained harder as I went along. I've never had rain hurt so badly going down the descents either. I was at the rest stop on the BRP when one of the volunteers took the fella down that was shivering so badly. He needed to get warmed up much sooner than later. A smallish tree had also fallen into the road at the end of the long downhill after the tunnel but was moved out of the way by the time I came through. I would agree that it was probably a smart decision to make adjustments to the ride. 30 miles on the BRP under those conditions was just too hard to manage safely.

    I guess I was out in front enough to finish the ride. It was very confusing though. The volunteers would ride along and tell us the ride was stopped but we didn't really understand what that meant. They did tell us later that they were shuttling riders down from Balsam Gap--I didn't know where the heck Balsam Gap was--we thought it was ahead of us so we just kept riding. Plus we were pretty much intent on finishing the ride so we just plodded along. We really didn't need anything from the rest stops or sags so no problems there.

    Coming down Hwy 19 in the rain with essentially no brakes was probably not too smart though. There were several times cars in front of me were slowing to turn left into the mountainside shops and I really didn't have a way to slow down......I braked very hard all of the way down and somehow kept the bike upright. Riding through Maggie Valley was an adventure too. There was standing water in the road that was as high as the curbs. Cars going by on the left were throwing huge sprays of water all over me.

    I really hate the weather messed them up. I really, realy liked the route. Lots of long climbs but nothing steep. I bet the views on that section of the BRP are the best anywhere. I could not believe how smooth the asphalt was on the BRP either. Sweet! I had miscalculated the last long climb on the BRP and it just went on and on and on.

    So you guys got lunch???? When I got finished they were packing up the tables in the van and I just assumed they had called that off too. Oh well.

    I do hope they don't get discouraged and try this one again next year. I it is a terrific route. The long climb up to the BRP is really, really nice with the creek, overhanging trees, etc. They do really need to get Hwy 19 repaved if they intend to bring a lot of cyclists down it. That would be a screaming fun descent with dry roads!!
    Ride your Ride!!

  11. #11
    Climbing Above It All BikeWNC's Avatar
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    Joe, we looked for you too before the ride and wondered if you decided to come up or not. Glad you did, but as you say the weather couldn't have been worse. I guess we should be grateful there was no lightning or hail! I talked to Ken Howell the event director and they are a go for next Aug. 20 so no issues there. Sorry you missed the views up on the BRP and even along NC 215 near the top. They are really special. Next year. I was also told that NC 19 is scheduled to be paved in the next year and Ken was trying to make sure it wasn't during the event. Hopefully before.

    The last climb up Waterrock Knob, the one you misjudged, is our local climb. From town it is about 21 miles and 4000' up. It does seem to go on and on.

  12. #12
    Let's do a Century jppe's Avatar
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    Just got a note from my brother and apparently a fellow from our area doing the metric fell within the last 12 miles. He was riding solo at the time and was later found beside the road. Serious injuries to his skull and brain, broken ribs, punctured lung and broken pelvis. He is getting very good care at the hospital and doctors are optimistic. Gosh-they sure had some horrible luck for the first event......
    Ride your Ride!!

  13. #13
    Senior Member NealH's Avatar
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    I'm very sorry to hear about that rider Joe, I guess that makes three accidents. One rider was swiped by truck pulling a horse trailer, or something like that, relatively early in the route. Another rider crashed on the hairpin curve (that was well marked) on the first descent. Not sure about injuries, but it did not sound like either could ride further. But it sounds like the rider from your area was injured pretty bad, and I'm just real sorry it happened. Stopping the event was the right thing to do given the torrential rain. One Sag wagon slid off the Parkway and almost tumbled down the mountain.

    I won't forget that rain for a long time. At the motel last night, I started to clean my bike and, there wasn't any dirt anywhere, not even a speck of oil on the chain. It was like my bike was pressure washed for an hour. All I had to do is re lube the chain. I carefully used the microwave oven to dry my shoes since Andy and I had a ride planned for today. Today's ride was great though. Dry, with a suitable amount of climbing, and as always good scenery. The Tuckaseegee River looked especially healthy after all the rain.

    The weather element notwithstanding, they did an outstanding job managing and supporting this event. The rest stops were like a buffet, and the roads were extremely well marked. Just a very well executed event, and getting people and their bikes off the mountain further supports the good management of this event. No phones worked, so they used Ham Radio. The rest stops had a Ham operator where no phone coverage existed.

  14. #14
    simply bikin' dobovedo's Avatar
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    I didn't know what was going on until I got there, but I pulled into that rest stop at Richland-Balsam just a couple minutes after the rider who had hypothermia got there. As I was starting to get close to the overlook, I could see two riders up ahead of me. One had come past me just a couple miles earlier, and another looked to be in a lot of difficulty. Hunched over his handlebars, looking down instead of forward, lurching side to side, etc. As the rider that had passed me got up to the other guy, I could see they were staying together so it was obvious that the other rider was a good Samaritan, helping him get to the stop. Very cool. When I pulled in the guy was off his bike and shivering badly, but upright, coherent, etc. The volunteers were taking good care of him, getting a vehicle warmed up, etc.

    It is sad to hear that there were other accidents and injuries. Hope those riders are or will be OK.

    Overall I was very impressed by this ride for being a first year. The support was incredible, lots of SAG vehicles, helpful and friendly rest stop and event volunteers, very well marked route, etc. I had only one minor nit and that was that they couldn't mix Gatorade to save their lives. LOL It was so weak that I just got water instead.

    I keep thinking back to the start line and that nice woman who started us off saying "looks like it should be a pretty nice day". Apparently she had not looked up at the sky at any point since sunrise. LOL. But even so.. that much rain was definitely not in the forecast. But as they say, "Mountains make their own weather". I must have just beaten the "cutoff" at Balsam Gap. As I went over 23/74 and started up the Waterrock climb, a SAG driver coming the other way rolled down his window and explained to me that the BRP officials had asked that they shut down the ride. He said I could SAG in or if I continued, I'd "be on my own". Being a local who has done Waterrock many times, I didn't much care if there was support or not, and I was way too stubborn to quit at that point.

    About halfway up, another SAG driver asked if I was OK, and told me the same thing. He also asked that I remove my number if I continued riding. I had already done that as soon as the first driver told me what was going on. The funny thing is... I had at least three other support vans or motorcycles come by and see if I was OK, and the last rest stop was still open just before the top of Waterrock. So they were definitely still supporting those of us that were out there.

    I'm one of those nutcases who loves riding in bad weather as much as good, and I had a blast the whole time. I had an advantage in that I know the descents well, and had enough braking power to keep myself under control without too much trouble. The descent down 19 wasn't bad at all, but I think I got lucky, because there were very few cars at the time I came down. Maggie Valley definitely has a road flooding problem though. I just took the whole right lane, riding the left side of it, and cruised through town at about 25 mph.

    What a ride!

    I sure hope they do it again next year and that there's no fallout with the BRP officials. I was really bummed the Tour de Tuck isn't going to happen this year and this ride was a great substitute, rain or no.
    Last edited by dobovedo; 08-23-10 at 12:59 AM. Reason: grammar
    "Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go."
    T.S. Eliot

  15. #15
    Let's do a Century jppe's Avatar
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    Latest info on the rider that crashed:



    Gaston Memorial worker fighting for life after cycling wreck
    by Michael Barrett


    A pursuit of a healthier lifestyle steered Gary Wayne Williams toward cycling 18 years ago.

    But the Belmont man has also found a way to make all his pedaling pay off for others, by participating in bicycle rides to fight diseases such as multiple sclerosis.

    “Dad is a very giving, caring person,” said Williams’ daughter, Charlene Williams Maiers of Bessemer City. “He donates money to different missions. He likes to ride to help with different charities.

    “He just loves to help people in need.”

    Williams who will turn 62 on Wednesday, is now fighting for his life in an Asheville hospital after being severely injured in a cycling accident Saturday afternoon. He has been in a coma since the incident in the trauma center at Mission Hospital in Asheville, where he was still in critical condition Monday.

    A project manager for the last 23 years at Gaston Memorial Hospital, Williams was riding in the inaugural Blue Ridge Breakaway, a bicycle ride sponsored by the Haywood County Chamber of Commerce. He was on Stamey Cove Road near Waynesville and was close to completing the 66-mile course when he hit a rock or some gravel about noon or 1 p.m., causing him to wreck, according to Maiers.

    Williams had been traveling at a high speed and was wearing a helmet, but he struck the asphalt face first. He suffered a severe injury to his left eye, a broken nose, a broken pelvis, broken ribs and a collapsed lung. Surgeons had to remove part of his skull to account for swelling on the right side of his brain, Maiers said.

    Living on two wheels

    The Haywood County Chamber of Commerce organized the Blue Ridge Breakaway to showcase the outdoors and cultural attractions of its region. Cyclists had four road courses to choose from Saturday, ranging from 24- to 105-miles long.

    Williams arrived and registered Saturday morning for the challenging 66-mile route that took cyclists on a round-way trip from Lake Junaluska to Lake Logan, said chamber director CeCe Hipps. He was riding alone when the wreck occurred.

    “There were no eye-witnesses to the accident,” said Hipps. “There was a cyclist who was coming up behind (Williams) and heard him go down. He immediately called 911.”

    Emergency personnel who were stationed at intervals along the course immediately responded and transported Williams by ambulance to the hospital, she said.

    Doc Bradshaw met Williams through cycling here years ago. They are part of a group of local cyclists who get together for long rides around Gaston County about four times a week. They also participate in charity events such as the MS 150, a fundraiser for multiple sclerosis research that takes riders from the Charlotte area to Myrtle Beach over two days each September.

    Bradshaw said he was shocked to hear about the accident. Williams demonstrates an excellent sense of road awareness and is a good, strong bike rider, he said.

    “He’s the kind of guy you don’t worry about riding alongside,” he said.
    “He knows what he’s doing. He always would take the right line in a curve.”

    A cyclist riding on a level plane can easily reach speeds of 20 mph to
    25 mph. Going downhill can increase speed substantially, Bradshaw said.

    Bradshaw said he has received concerned e-mails from numerous fellow cyclists in the last two days.

    “When one of us gets hurt, we all feel it,” he said.

    Asking for prayers

    Maiers, the youngest of Williams’ two daughters, said her father has had a few minor cycling accidents before, but nothing serious.

    Her father is a vegetarian who began cycling to lose weight and stay in shape, Maiers said.

    “He’s a very health-conscious person,” she said.

    Williams and his wife Gail have been married 42 years and have two children, five grandchildren and six great-grandchildren, with a seventh on the way, Maiers said. The couple are longtime members of Belmont Church of God, where Williams has played drums for many years.

    Maiers is in Asheville with other family members, but said she appreciates the support they are receiving from friends here. Nurses have told them to remain “cautiously hopeful” that Williams will survive.

    “I would just like people to continue praying for him and know we really appreciate it,” she said. “We know the prayers are helping.”
    Ride your Ride!!

  16. #16
    VFL For Life Velo Vol's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BikeWNC View Post
    Put it on your calendar for next 8/20.
    Sounds good, if you can guarantee it will be dry.

  17. #17
    Senior Member NealH's Avatar
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    Thanks for the update Joe, though I wish it had been more promising. My prayers go to Gary and his family. I sure hope he quickly makes a turn for the better.

    Velo Vol, its been while since you've ridden with us. You need to get over here for some Blue Ridge cruising.

  18. #18
    VFL For Life Velo Vol's Avatar
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    Are there any September rides?

  19. #19
    Senior Member NealH's Avatar
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    We don't have any planned rides at this time but, I could make it one of the first two weekends in Oct. If one of these will work then we need to check with BWNC and see what his plans are. Of course traffic might be heavy during this time on the Parkway but, there are quite a few route options in that area as you know.

  20. #20
    VFL For Life Velo Vol's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NealH View Post
    I could make it one of the first two weekends in Oct. If one of these will work then we need to check with BWNC and see what his plans are.
    Still thinking about doing this?

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