Blood, Sweat and Years
FactsSchedule of Events
3 to 9 p.m. – Packet pickup at Valle Crucis Elementary School
6 to 7 a.m. – Packet pickup at Valle Crucis Elementary School
7:30 a.m. – 100-mile ride starts
7:45 a.m. – 50-mile ride starts
TBD – Post-ride massages in the school gym; food and drink are provided.
5 p.m. – Post-ride reception at the Jones House in downtown Boone
Blood, Sweat and Gears, an annual cycling fundraiser in Valle
Crucis, is not for the timid.
The namesake of the strenuous biking event, which turns 15 this year and will be held Saturday, June 22, should clue riders in on the grueling nature of the ride.
There’s also a reason why many experienced riders leave their pedals and opt to hoof it while enduring Snake Mountain.
“When that happens, we say that riders have been snake-bitten,” said BSG longtime supporter Scott Nelson. “Snake Mountain is an epic climb. A lot of people underestimate it.”
Snakebites aside, BSG is dual platform coarse that begins and ends in Valle Crucis. The ride allows bicyclists the option of choosing either a 50-mile or 100-mile course, with each selection offering a topographical sampling of rolling hillside and daunting ascents.
Nature-lovers and those who enjoy a scenic (and more strenuous) ride will partake in the 100-mile offering, which takes cyclists on a tour of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Riders then head north into Ashe County and work their way to the New River. After riding into the border community of Todd, riders will begin their ascent up Snake Mountain. From Creston, riders travel to Trade, Tenn., before taking on the final leg.
The 50-mile variety of the ride is similar to the longer course. Instead of tackling the Blue Ridge Parkway, riders will be treated to the abbreviated version of the challenge and will later loop back up with the 100-mile riders on the far side of Trade, Nelson said.
Since the ride’s inception 15 years ago, participation has eclipsed the 1,200-rider mark. Nelson can still remember the days when 130-rider participation was a stretch. While participation for this year’s ride has already reached capacity, Nelson said there are ample opportunities to catch all the action firsthand.
“The three best places to watch the ride are from the top of Shulls Mill Road, downtown Blowing Rock and atop Snake Mountain,” he said.
BSG started out as an annual fundraiser for the local chapter of the American Red Cross before becoming incorporated as nonprofit organization two years ago, Nelson said.
The Red Cross continues to be the ride’s primary benefactor — having received $30,000 through the event last year— but BSG organizers have since brought other philanthropic agencies into the loop.
Last year, the event also donated $20,000 to the Russell Keene III Memorial Fund. Keene, of New Jersey, was killed during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. His parents have ties to the Linville Falls community, Nelson said.
BSG also contributed funds to the Make-A-Wish Foundation to make one little boy’s special wish come true.
“There’s not many moments in my life that have made me cry, but that was one of the few,” Nelson said on reading a letter from the child’s mother on his experience with the foundation.
Looking to diversify their base of sponsors, BSG has also taken advantage of a recently implemented economic impact study.
“As we have matured and the ride has gotten bigger, we realized a lot of people benefited economically from what we do, and it’s important that we approach them appropriately,” Nelson said.
Regardless of where donations and contributions to the ride go, financial backers can rest assured it is going toward a worthwhile endeavor, Nelson said.
“One of things we did last year, when we finished, we sent an email to all our riders and sponsors and said this is where the money went,” Nelson said. “Early on, we said we would be openly transparent.”
For more information on Blood, Sweat and Gears, visit http://www.bloodsweatandgears.org.