Introducing the Blowing Rock Fall Classic

By Jeff Eason (eason@mountaintimes.com)



Article Published: Apr. 17 | Modified: Apr. 17
Introducing the Blowing Rock Fall Classic

Scott Nelson, ride director of Blood, Sweat and Gears, discusses the Blowing Rock Fall Classic with Blowing Rock’s board of commissioners.

Photo by Jeff Eason



The town of Blowing Rock became one of the premier destinations for cyclists last week, when commissioners unanimously approved it as the start and finish line of a new bike ride to commence next year.

The name of the event will be the Blowing Rock Fall Classic, and it will be part of the three separate rides in Western North Carolina in 2015.

Scott Nelson, ride director of Blood, Sweat and Gears, gave the commissioners a summary of the event at the town council meeting at Blowing Rock Town Hall last Tuesday.

“The route will be about 72 miles,” Nelson said. “We will begin behind Blowing Rock Memorial Park, next to the American Legion Hall, have a parade down Main Street, through the equestrian preserve, descend U.S. 321 to Happy Valley, go west to Collettsville, pick up the old Bridge-to-Bridge route, climb Highway 181 into Linville, then across U.S. 221 back to Blowing Rock.”

According to Nelson, the Blowing Rock Fall Classic is one of the three rides that are tentatively being called the 2015 Triple Crown of the Mountains.

The other two rides in the series are the Beech Metric, a 62-mile ride that will climb 8,000 feet to the top of Beech Mountain, and Blood, Sweat and Gears, which consists of a 100-mile course and a 50-mile course, both of which begin and end at Valle Crucis School.

According to Nelson, host towns for the start and finish of rides, such as the Blowing Rock Fall Classic, stand to gain considerable economic benefits.

“This year’s 16th annual Blood, Sweat and Gears ride sold out in 16 minutes,” he said. “Riders and their families typically stay two nights in the host town and bring two or more people with them.”
Nelson also noted that Blood, Sweat and Gears is primarily a charity event and that money raised by riders’ fees and their sponsors’ donations totaled $100,000 last year.

“We typically donate money to the local service providers, such as police and fire departments who help with the ride,” he said. “And then we give additional money to local charities.”

Money raised from the event will also fund two grant requests in honor of two of the founders of Blood, Sweat and Gears, Sonny Sweet and Jim Harmon.

According to Nelson, the Sonny Sweet Honorary Grant will be in the $20,000 to $30,000 range, and the Jim Harmon Honorary Grant will be in the $10,000 to $15,000 range.

BSG recently gave a $3,500 matching grant to WeCAN, a local organization that helps families with heating costs, this past winter.

Nelson said that Blood, Sweat and Gears has earned a riders rating of 97 out of 100 and that the organization utilizes volunteers to minimize disruption of normal street traffic and litter.

This year’s Blood, Sweat and Gears event is scheduled for Saturday, June 28. An after-ride party will be held that evening for riders and their support teams at Appalachian Mountain Brewery in Boone. At the event, BSG will host 20 athletes from the Ride 2 Recovery program, a cycling program designed to help veterans healing from wounds suffered in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Veterans from Fayetteville, Asheville, Charleston, S.C., Virginia Beach, Va., Clarkesville, Tenn., and Florida are scheduled to attend the event.

“We have developed a new slogan at BSG called ‘Helping our communities one revolution at a time,’” Nelson said. “We believe in calling ourselves to action to help the lives of everyone in our community.”

The news of the new cycling event in Blowing Rock is the result of months of planning and cooperation between representatives of Blood, Sweat and Gears, the town of Blowing Rock, the Blowing Tourism Development Authority and the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce.

Organizers anticipate approximately 800 to 1,000 riders to sign up for the inaugural Blowing Rock Fall Classic.

“We have talked about having a triple crown for 14 years and didn’t think it would ever happen,” Nelson said.

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