Pisgah Mountain Bike Stage Race gets new date

The third edition of the Pisgah Mountain Bike Stage Race is moving to a new spot on the calendar for 2011. The North Carolina stage race will happen from September 27 to October 1. Last year the race was run in mid-September and in its first year, it happened in mid-October.

"We changed the dates to avoid conflict with other events. It is now a week after Interbike to allow sponsors to make it to the event," promoter Todd Branham of Blue Ridge Adventures told Cyclingnews. "The NUE series is over, yet these endurance riders aren't quite into cyclo-cross yet. The marathon national championships do not conflict, and the collegiate national championships do not conflict. Brevard College is one of our partners and helps mark the course so this was done specifically to allow them to be present for the event.

"Our closest conflict is the 24-hour national championship which is on October 1-2." However, Branham does not think there will be much conflict between those wanting to do his event and the 24-hour race.

"As you can see, a lot goes in to such a simple step as picking the date of an event," he said.

The gruelling five-day Pisgah Mountain Bike Stage Race will cover 175 miles in 2011 and showcase some of the best singletrack that Pisgah National Forest has to offer.

"There are only three sanctioned off-road stage races in the United States, and people are flying in from out of the country for the Pisgah Mountain Bike Stage Race," said Branham, who boasts about the quality of the trails covered by his race.

"For rugged, real mountain biking, we have 433 miles of singletrack here in this one county. And it's hard to argue with pros like Jeremiah Bishop and Amanda Riley-Carey saying that this is one of the most fun and challenging races around." The race features 40,000 feet of climbing.

According to Branham, last year's winners Bishop and Carey as well as elite 40+ winner Andy Johnston are "licking their chops to come back to redeem their title".

In 2011, the race format will shift slightly, becoming a little longer and tougher. Instead of an opening day's prologue, the first day of racing will be converted into a full-length stage.

"We are upping the mileage this year by making day 1 a full stage instead of a shortened stage," said Branham to Cyclingnews. "All five days will be in Pisgah, unless we score a stage at the Biltmore Estate. The other four courses will be the same as last year, just shuffled around in order."

Racers will compete for US$15,000 in prizes although Branham calls it an "every man's event". The average entrant is 42 years old and the race entry costs $700 in contrast to some stage races that cost up to nearly three times as much.

For the first time ever, the race will feature a new team relay category.

Blue Ridge Adventures will also host several other popular, regional events. The 63-mile Off Road Assault on Mount Mitchell (ORAMM) and the end-of-season Swank 65 are slated for July 24 and November 6, respectively.

The 12th annual ORAMM treats racers to the sublime singletrack off the Blue Ridge Parkway, and tackles the highest peak east of the Mississippi. The course contains some of the tightest ridgeline descents in the area, and its climbs up Curtis Creek Road and up the switchbacks on Kitsuma and Star Gap deliver astounding panoramic views. Capped at 400 racers, this 60-plus-percent singletrack race is sure to sell out again this year.

The 13th Annual Swank 65 incorporates an adrenaline-pumping plunge down a leaf-strewn Farlow Gap that tests the even the best riders' technical bike-handling skills. The race consists of three clover-shaped loops that start from the 2,500-foot campground.

For more information on the Pigsah Mountain Bike Stage Race, visit www.blueridgeadventures.net/stage/.

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