Thursday, May 12, 2011

What to Expect : Part II

In an effort to guide everyone through the registration process and events with as few issues as possible, we've come up with an extensive blow by blow description of What to Expect this weekend.
The entire pdf will be available for download via the main site shortly.

MONDAY, MAY 16 : The Main Events!

  • 5:30 AM : Final packet pick-up and registration for Marion opens at the Memorial Auditorium.  We highly recommend picking up your Mitchell packet at the Expo the day before (in case of any registration issues), however, we understand that travel etc may make this impossible.
  • 6:00 AM : Roads will be closed surrounding the Memorial Auditorium, so please give yourself plenty of time to find a parking space and get to the starting line.
    • Parking is available at the St. John’s St. Parking garage (upper levels only), at the Marriott parking garage (lower levels), as well as limited space behind the Memorial Auditorium.
    • Parking is NOT available in the lot across the street from the auditorium, at the Second Presbyterian Church, or anywhere on Wofford’s Campus.
    • 6:20 AM : Riders will be lining up for the start in front of the Memorial Auditorium.  Please note the 3 Signs indicating where you should line up.  The fastest riders will be at the front, most riders will be in the middle, and the slower riders need to be in the back.  If this is your first time doing Mitchell, you will most likely fall into the latter two categories. 
      • Flag Set #1 
      • This is reserved for the FASTEST riders. You should only consider riding with this group if you are planning to finish AoMM in 6:15 or less OR Marion in 3:30 or less. This means you have trained for the ride for months and you have a very high level of fitness (and most likely, you have done one or both of these events before). If you have not trained for the event and choose to start here you placing yourself and those around you at great risk of injury and/or failure. Please DO NOT start here unless you are a very skilled, trained cyclist with proper equipment and preparation.  These are the top 10% of finishers, and it is DANGEROUS to illegitimately place yourself in this elite group.
      • Flag Set #2 
      • These are the serious Weekend Warrior riders. You should consider riding with this group if you have trained well, know how to ride in a peloton, are fast and fit, but not a "racer" - realistically, you know you will not be with the lead pack riding into Marion. To be certain that you have an enjoyable experience, it is best to consider your placement and preparation carefully. 
      • Flag Set #3 
      • The majority of riders should line up behind this flag: those who are out for the experience and the joy of the event; those who did not train as much as you might have liked; those who are not racing the clock; and those whose main goal is to finish.  Ask the people around you what their pace will be, and place yourself accordingly.  Remember, we must all consider the safety and enjoyment of those around us as well as our own interests!

    •     6:30 AM : MASS START              Both the Assault on Mt. Mitchell and the Assault on Marion will roll out at the same time and cover the first 74 miles together.  After the Marion riders finish at the Tom Johnson Camping Center, Mitchell riders will continue the last 28 miles alone, plodding their way to the top of the mountain.
      • For details of the course, please read Paul's previous posts on our Training Blog and the Event Page.
      • For driving directions to the Tom Johnson Camping Center, please visit our home page. 
      • Spectator Bus Tickets will be for sale on the day of the event in Marion for  $5/ea, and buses will begin as soon as the first group passes through.
      The first few miles will be some of the most challenging – both mentally and physically.  Cyclists jostle through the pack, trying to find the right place to sit in and enjoy the ride.  The leaders will push the pace, stringing out the peloton.  Several flat tires and ejected water bottles will cause alarming and dangerous changes in the pack.  This is the most difficult time to tell yourself to be calm and find your own pace.  The heat of the moment causes most riders to push themselves beyond their comfort zones, which can ultimately ruin the ride - by either burning themselves out, or causing a crash.  When someone "blew up" in front of him last year, a close friend of mine was taken down in a crash, suffering a broken collarbone.  His ride was over after only 4 miles!  Keep your head on your shoulders and your line straight & true.
    CAUTION:  While rolling out of Spartanburg, there are a few bridges to cross.  The seams in the pavement at these points can abruptly change the peloton’s pacing, or surprise riders into overreacting.  Similarly, there are a holes and cracks in the road shortly after crossing the I-85 bridge (while on Hwy 9) that can sneak up on cyclists if proper communication is not passed through the pack.
    These bumps and seams will eject water bottles and disrupt the flow.  This poses serious hazards to everyonePLEASE exercise caution, maintain your line and pace, and COMMUNICATE problems that arise. 

    • 7:20 AM : REST STOP #1 @ mile marker 22; the first cyclists will begin to pass by this rest stop manned by First Baptist of Spartanburg.  The leaders will most likely not stop, but some more casual riders will pause and refill water and snacks. 
    • 8:10 AM : REST STOP #2 @ mile marker 42; the lead pack will reach the second water stop  sponsored by Walgreens (on behalf of the School for the Deaf and Blind).  The pack will have split into several smaller groups after the hills on Pea Ridge.
    CAUTION:  Just after passing Rest Stop #2, riders are greeted with a long, seemingly straight downhill.  At the very bottom of this hill is a sharp, hairpin curve that has ended many a cyclist’s morning ride.  The newly “paved” section is now more treacherous than ever with loose stone and rough edges.  We will have it clearly marked, but DO NOT come down this hill at high speeds.  DO NOT pass other, intelligently cautious riders.  DO NOT use this brief respite to try to get back to the peloton – there is a long flat stretch ahead for you to make that catch.
    • 8:30 AM : REST STOP #3 @ mile marker 47 – the summit of Bills Mountain; the front group will come by this rest stop sponsored by our friends at Mobile Meals.
      • Many SAGs will meet their riders at this important spot, and it is recommended that family/friends/support  driving the SAG course get here before 8:15 to avoid delays (getting behind the pack)
      • Similarly, it is best that they drive down the mountain toward Hwy 64 (against the flow of the course) in order to get back onto the SAG route.  From there, SAGs can leap-frog the peloton to Marion and avoid getting stuck behind a pack of cyclists.
    • 9:10 AM : REST STOP #4 @ mile marker 64; riders will begin to make this right turn onto ,this rest stop is Sponsored by SunTrust Bank, and we are exceedingly grateful for their support again this year! 
    • 9:40 AM : REST STOP #5 @ Tom Johnson Camping Center in Marion, NC.  The head of the peloton will roll through Marion after only 3-3.5 hours on the bike.  This will be the elite riders, and it is incredible to see the speeds at which these athletes will cover the first 74 miles!


    • 10:10 AM : REST STOP #6 @ mile marker 85; halfway up the Hwy 80, volunteers from Bethel United Methodist will share encouragement and ice-cold drinks with those struggling to beat the 8-10% grades 
    • 10:20 AM : REST STOP #7 @ mile marker 87; the leaders will begin to enter the Blue Ridge Parkway at this junction.  Manned with porta-johns, tech support, and lots of fluids and food, the Spartanburg Humane Society help riders fuel up for the long, steady climb ahead. 
    NOTE: The cut-off time to reach this point and to gain access to the Blue Ridge Parkway is 3:00 PM. One must average 10.25 mph over the course of the day in order to make it here in time.

    • 10:40 AM : REST STOP #8 @ mile marker 93; the elite group will pass the approximate midpoint on the Blue Ridge Parkway, with friends from the Running Club lending support at this rest area. 
    • 11:00 AM : REST STOP #9 @ mile marker 98; the leaders should be entering the final leg of the journey .  Placed at the last turn of the day (onto the Mt. Mitchell Parkway) this stop will be manned by volunteers from the Oak Brook Preparatory School. 
    • 11:20 AM : REST STOP #10 @ mile marker 100; the first riders to enter the State Park will pass the last rest stop, also manned by the Oak Brook Prep volunteers.  With the home stretch ahead, cyclists will have a brief respite, a temporary plateau, before the final kilometer grind to the top! 
    • 11:30 AM : FINISH LINE; we expect the first finishers in roughly 5 hours, though if conditions are good, we may also see a new course record!

    Peter Kay
    Assaults Director

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