Blood, Sweat and Gears to celebrate life of Mark Hiatt
The countdown is on for the 14th annual Blood Sweat & Gears.
The 100-mile bicycle route, scheduled for Saturday, June 23, sold out in seven hours, and the 52-mile route on the same day sold out in 10 hours.
“It’s no wonder why BSG is more than an event. It’s often a family vacation, which in turn boosts tourism throughout the High Country,” according to BSG officials.
For the Hiatt family, it is a life experience. Mark Hiatt was a lifetime bike rider, riding cross-country and everywhere in-between, then he found the BSG ride.
“Despite his diagnosis of kidney disease, receiving a kidney transplant, a diagnosis and treatment of melanoma, Mark continued his lifelong love affair with his bike and his family,” BSG officials said.
“Unfortunately, Mark lost his battle with melanoma late last year, but his widow, Bonnie, is proud to serve as our honorary starter for this year’s ride.”
“Mark wanted people to know that you don’t hold back and not live your life to the fullest,” Bonnie Hiatt said. “You keep living until you just can’t anymore. Being on the bike was certainly a large part of Mark’s life and not something he ever gave up.
“Last year, Mark was in a clinical trial for melanoma and exhausted all the time due to anemia, yet still working full time. His goal was to finish the 50-mile ride. When it took him almost seven hours to do so, he felt disappointed in his performance. I reminded him he did meet his goal, he did finish and with a huge grin on his face at that,” she said.
The BSG is a challenging to strenuous full English century — a 100-mile loop ride starting and ending at Valle Crucis Elementary School. A 50-mile “half century” is available for those who prefer a challenging but shorter route.
Both rides are supported with aid stations and SAG support.
The BSG showcases the mountain communities of Watauga County; highlights of the route include a 21-mile section of the Blue Ridge Parkway, a strenuous climb over the 4,500-foot gap at Snake Mountain and a 10-mile “flat” on old U.S. 421.
BSG is supported by businesses and groups throughout the High Country.
For a complete list of gold, silver and bronze sponsors, visit http://bloodsweatandgears.org.
“BSG has come a long way in 14 years; only 200 riders braved the course in its first year. The race now supports 750 full century riders and 500 half-century riders,” officials said.
Proceeds from the ride will benefit the Jeremy Dale Fisher Fund and The Russell Fund, established by the Watauga County Chapter of the American Red Cross, which provides assistance to local families who are displaced by fire, flood or similar disasters.