Assault on the Carolinas
Our group set out from Asheville bright and early on April 11 to take part in the 17th annual Assault on the Carolinas (AOTC) ride. The ride begins and ends in Brevard, NC which is the self-proclaimed (and rightly so) Cycling Capital of the South.
The City of Brevard is located in Transylvania County which is well known for superior mountain biking trails and hosted the launch of the Trek Bicycles 2015 mountain bike line in June 2014.
But Assault on the Carolinas is all about road cycling and offers riders a chance to see that Transylvania County is not just for mountain biking.
Route offerings included 40K, 60K and 100K options. Walnut Hollow and Caesar’s Head are the climbs of note and they do not disappoint. The former is a short, steep grind and the latter offer six wonderful miles of climbing and, as you can imagine, a sweet descent.
The ride is capped at 1,000 and that’s a good thing. Although the ride always sells out early and many miss out on the opportunity to ride, the rural roads used for the routes would not be pleasant with more than 1,000 riders.
AOTC attracts rides of all ages and ability levels. Since this is considered an early spring ride for many, the 40K and 60K routes are perfect for beginning and intermediate level cyclists… or those long-distance riders who just haven’t had enough training during the short daylight hours of winter.
I was delighted to find myself at the starting line beside my dear friend EK Morley. EK may well have been the oldest rider in the field at 84 years young. He is an avid cyclist who picked up the sport later in life, and a favorite client of ours.
David and I chose to ride the 60K route so that we could return to the finish early to greet finishers. David snagged a great spot along Main Street for the VGR Luxury Sprinter Van and tent, and we were well-positioned for our Finish Party a few short blocks from the Finish.
We spent several hours ringing the cow bell, and offering chilled chocolate milk as a recovery drink to finishers. It is so inspiring to see riders roll in to the Finish, short-medium-or-long rides under their belt. A reason to be proud.
We had a great time getting to know Celia and Wayne, new residents to Western North Carolina, as they relaxed after a successful first visit cycling in Brevard.
Speaking of cow bells…the local newspaper hands out bells to local residents so that they can cheer the cyclists in European fashion.
It truly is overwhelming to see the residents of Transylvania County ringing their bells, cheering the riders, and hosting AOTC parties. These folks know how to throw a great cycling event.
And the Pisgah Forest Rotary Club of Pisgah Forest is to thank for getting this ride started. Just as important are the local retailers and restaurants who fully embrace the event. Signs in shop windows welcome cyclists, and invite you to linger and enjoy all that Brevard has to offer.
Many riders use AOTC as a training ride for longer, more challenging rides to come later in the season.
In fact, members of the Velo Girl Rides Misery Loves Company Team: PJ, Susan, Wendy & Pattie all rode in AOTC 2015, and they have their sights set on Mountains of Misery on May 24 in Virginia… so they attacked the famed Caesar’s Head climb with a purpose.
After enjoying a very tasty meal and Oskar Blues brews at the AOTC Finish Party, we made our way back to Asheville.
Life is good when you can spend the day with friends cycling in Brevard. I highly recommend that you add AOTC to your must-do list of rides for 2016. In fact, we’re taking sign-ups now, for the 10 spots in the VGR Van for next year!