Making the Ascent

Article Published: Aug. 9, 2012 | Modified: Aug. 13, 2012

Pirate Race Productions presents The Ascent Bike and Run Hill Climbs this Sunday, Aug. 12, at the Blue Ridge Mountain Club in Blowing Rock.

Described as “the hardest bicycle hill climb in the South,” the course is 9.25-miles, with 3,200 feet of ascending, yielding an average grade of 5.9 percent with a maximum pitch of 17.5 percent.

Presented by Boone-based Magic Cycles, the Ascent course has a “Category 1” rating on, the most difficult rating of any paved road in the Southern United States. The course records are held by pro racers Brian Sheedy (45:07) and Alison Arensman (1:01:41).

The Ascent bike race is the second stop in the Capo Cycling Apparel King of Pain Series, following Boone-Roubaix this past April and Three Peaks USA UltraCross at the Banner Elk Winery on Sept. 23.

New for this year is a running race that will start at the mid-point for 3.7 miles with 1,300 feet of ascending. The Ascent Run is the second stop in the High Country Summit Series, along with the infamous Bear 5-Mile Run held in July and The Knob hill climb in Boone on Oct. 5.

Both the bike and run courses use a brand new, buttery smooth road with vivid scenery around every bend. Unlike other hill climbs, this course has the luxury of a two-lane road that can be closed, meaning friends and family can watch from anywhere on the course, and anyone can ride, walk or drive down from the top. Registration for both the run and the bike climbs is available from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. the day of the race for $35 (run) and $40 (bike), with no processing fees.

The Ascent Facebook page will have updates about both the running and bike races.

According to event organizers, the Boone area is a mecca for cyclists, thanks to its unmatched beauty, quiet country roads and notorious climbs. The area is home to a pair of colleges with national champion cycling teams and some of the nation’s most popular and challenging cycling events.

For more information on Pirate Race Productions, the organizer of the event, visit

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