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Bishop, Haywood return to Pisgah to defend titles

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Sue Haywood (SBC) races on Massanutten

Sue Haywood (SBC) races on Massanutten (Image credit: Tom Olesnevich /
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Jeramiah Bishop pilots his Cannondale through an abandoned train tunnel approximately one mile from the finish.

Jeramiah Bishop pilots his Cannondale through an abandoned train tunnel approximately one mile from the finish. (Image credit: Michael DeNino /

The five-day Pisgah Mountain Bike Stage Race returns for its second year in 2010, and it will begin on Tuesday, September 14 and run through Saturday, September 18. Racers will cover 175 miles of singletrack in and near the Pisgah National Forest in the Brevard, North Carolina area.  It will include over 40,000 feet of climbing.

For riders, it is a true test of endurance. Defending champions Jeremiah Bishop and Sue Haywood will be returning to the race, which is happening about one month earlier than last year, when racers battled extreme cold and some snow.

"It's like running five ORAMMS in a row," said Race Director Todd Branham in reference to the Off Road Assault on Mt. Mitchell which draws 400 participants yearly to the town of Old Fort, North Carolina. That means a lot of work and a lot of volunteers with some of them in remote locations on the course.

Last year Blue Ridge Adventures partnered with the Southern Off Road Bicycle Assocation (SORBA) to do volunteer work that sometimes included bikepacking to get to the volunteers' positions in time. In return, Blue Ridge Adventures donated US$3,000 to the Pisgah Area SORBA Chapter in appreciation for their efforts for three days on the course. This year the two organizations will be teaming up again to help man the 25+ volunteer positions per day.

The race is a big production that keeps getting bigger. Changes for 2010 include the addition of a full stage, making the race five days instead of four and $5000 more in the cash purse, making it US$20,000 total.

In an effort to give back to the community the Pisgah Stage Race will host several public events. First on Friday night, the race will screen "Ride the Divide" with a pro autograph session and an auction to benefit World Bicycle Relief. Then on Saturday, the Cascadia Evening will celebrate the race's overall finish with an awards party that promises to be a good time for the whole family. Some of the planned festivities include live music, kids' bike races, a sack hop race, a pie eating contest, an autograph session and plenty of food and beer. A silent auction will also benefit the Bracken Mountain Trail, a project that will connect the town of Brevard with Pisgah National Forest by trail.

In an effort to promote health and wellness in the local community, Olympic Track Racer Colby Pearce and former national champions Jeremiah Bishop and Sue Haywood, pros Evan Plews and Robert Marion will share their stories with kids at Brevard Academy on the Monday preceding the Pisgah Stage Race. Students will learn about perseverance and dedication and also how to balance work, family and fitness to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Riders will also show off some tricks on their bikes.