In its second year, the Pisgah Mountain Bike Stage Race is getting an earlier spot on the calendar and an extra day of competition. The North Carolina event, held in the Pisgah National Forest near Brevard over five days, will happen one month earlier, from September 14-18, 2010.
Race promoter Todd Branham cited several reasons for the move forward on the calendar.
"I found out that people shift to cyclo-cross around October. That's a totally different style of racing than mountain bike stage racing and even though the racers have been doing it all year long, they are ready to change focus," said Branham to Cyclingnews. "In September, it seems like people are still doing longer events."
The inaugural Pisgah Mountain Bike Stage Race was run in mid-October of 2009, but the host town of Brevard thought a September date would work better considering how the seasons affect the town. "September is a shoulder season," said Branham. "I was under the impression that all the seasonal trails near us were limited to open up on October 15, but that wasn't the case. In October, we get a lot of people for leaf season, and the town doesn't need to fill hotel rooms then. The town wants us to make the race bigger."
"I've really worked hard this year to get the town and Transylvania county involved. They are finally getting it - there is tourism potential."
Finally, the earlier date should improve the likelihood of good weather. The first edition of the race saw an unusual snowfall and extremely cold temperatures - what turned out to be a harbinger of the unusually harsh winter to come. "Hopefully, we won't have any snow in September. That was so freak," said Branham.
Two of the three stages, including the Queen stage, will be the same as last year. One will change slightly, plus the new day will add another 50 miles. The location of the opening stage one, usually a shorter stage, is still to be determined, but Branham would like to keep it in town and running over at least 11 miles.
All but the initial stage will start and finish in the same area, and Branham said there will be entertainment each night during which there will be the awards ceremony and a chance for racers to hang out and share their experiences of the day. "Last year, the biggest complaint was a lack of atmosphere. Creating an atmosphere is an important part - riders get to unwind, talk about their day and hang out with each other."
Branham said the additional day and distance reflects the rider feedback he's gotten. "After two days, I get tired, but apparently the big guys don't get tired until after three or four days, and they wanted more. Riders like Jeremiah (Bishop) were asking about other trails we could include."
More racers are expected for the second edition, in part due to the above changes and also due to the 25 percent increase in the cash purse. A few of the smaller categories have been combined, so each remaining category will see more places and more prize money awarded.
Jeremiah Bishop and Sue Haywood won the elite men's and women's divisions of the inaugural event.
For more information on the race, please visit www.blueridgeadventures.net/stage/main.html.
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Sue George is an editor at Cyclingnews. She coordinates all of the site's mountain bike race coverage and assists with the road, 'cross and track coverage.