May 5: "Tom Johnson Campground"/ Marion
About 74 miles in, riders either finish at Tom Johnson Campground or transition into the climbing sections of the Assault on Mt. Mitchell. The campground is key because of the added traffic and the likelihood that many cyclists choose to stop here for more food and water/drinks--often meeting a SAG or family member. Everyone should be careful about stopping, letting other riders know your intentions, and watching for spectators stepping into or across the road. For me, as a side note, I tend to make this my psychological transition--from Spartanburg to Marion, I am a pack cyclists; from Marion to the top, I ride alone (or pretend I am alone) in order to maintain the pace I want/need and avoid being lured into climbing too hard at an early stage and flaming out before the end. From Marion to the top is nearly 30 miles of riding, most of which is climbing. Riding smart from Marion to the top is important.
Paul Thomas, EdD, Associate Professor