On May 14, the Tour de Cashiers Mountain Cycling Experience rolls out again with its annual cycling challenge that takes cyclists through the scenic byways of Jackson, Macon and Transylvania Counties. Cyclists will race one of three routes that feature more than 10,000 feet of elevation change on steep climbs and fast descents. The event offers adventurous athletic challenges suitable for the seasoned to beginner rider. And for all, it’s great outdoor recreation amid breathtaking natural scenery featuring granite-faced mountains, flowering valleys and running rivers.
Tour de Cashiers will kick off at 8 a.m. on Saturday May 14th from The Village Green Commons in Cashiers. The Tour attracts approximately 300 cyclists who dedicate the day to the challenge of one of several routes; Quarter-Century (25 miles), Metric (62 miles), Century (100 miles). The Century route gives riders some opportunity for relief by foregoing 20 miles and a few very tough climbs near the ride’s end. Regardless of the length, participants enjoy stunning scenery, exhilarating ascents and fast descents along the routes. Among the highlights includes the “Donkey Field” intersection at Walnut Gap where resident four-legged spectators watch the cyclists pass. For the 2016 event, Pisgah Productions of Asheville will be lending operational support.
Scott Baker, a seasoned cyclist who has ridden almost every century ride in the Southeast, touts Tour de Cashiers as one of the toughest and most challenging centuries in the region. “One of the best measures of a challenging route of any length is the amount of elevation gain, or climbing, the cyclist must tackle on the route. The Tour de Cashiers offers almost 11,000 feet of uphill elevation, more than two miles straight up. Throughout the ride it seems like you are always clawing your way up the next short, medium, or (several) interminably long climbs. Try not to judge yourself by others on this route. Just finishing is an outstanding accomplishment on its own.”
The Tour de Cashiers started nearly 25 years ago when a group of biking enthusiasts under the leadership of Clarke Moore gathered at the Cashiers Area Chamber for an organized outing. Since then, it has grown in popularity, size and sophistication. Those cyclists who have tackled the peaks and valleys of Tour de Cashiers have ranged in age from 18 (our minimum age) to 72 years young. While most have come from the southeastern United States, riders also have visited from as far away as Idaho. Moore, now 95 years old, will be on the course as part of the volunteers, which provide critical support by staffing registration, course rescue, rest stops and more.
Cyclists who are racing can take advantage of extending a weekend in Cashiers with lodging around Cashiers and Jackson County. Special lodging packages for Tour de Cashiers are available at www.tourdecashiers.com/special-offers. Cashiers offers plenty of dining options for cyclists to refuel.
Early rider registration for Tour de Cashiers at $45 is available at www.TourdeCashiers.com, linked to Active.com.