Thursday, January 24, 2013

Welcome back!

Welcome back to the Mitchell blog!

Although this place was on hiatus last year. I've been asked to dust, sweep, vacuum, and get it ready again for the 2013 Assaults.

First, a bit of housekeeping. The Assault on Mount Mitchell and Marion will take place on Monday, May 20th, 2013.

Freewheeler members will get the first opportunity to register on February 1st at 7:00am. Members should have already received pass codes via email.

Registration will open to the public on Friday, February 15th at 7:00am.

You can find further details at the Assaults website.

Many of you may remember me from blogging my first Mitchell attempt back in 2011. In fact, my recap is the last post published on this blog. Many of you may also know me from my other home at, where I blog about Mitchell and many other adventures in the southeast.

The moment I finished my first Assault, I wondered what I was thinking in the first place. This thing was hard, and I could barely feel my legs. The next day, as I reflected on my accomplishment, I felt something completely different. You could call it a sense of pride or satisfaction. The journey was over and I had won. Despite the hard work that led me to the top of the mountain, I knew I could do it again. Furthermore, I knew I could do it better.

I trained in the off-season with the goal of improving. Somehow I managed to beat my first time of 8:05 by nearly an hour to 7:07. Again, I was proud, satisfied, and immediately pledged to beat 6:30 the next year. You can read my recap here.

Things don't always work out the way we want. Late in the year, I suffered a stress fracture in my hip. At first I thought it was a hip flexor strain, which I treated with Aleve, ice and rest. I even completed other mountain rides, not knowing I had a broken hip. Eventually, after a lot of trial and turmoil, I got the diagnosis.

This year is different for me because of the injury. I still have the itch, but I have yet to scratch it. I have been off the bike for six weeks now, and will stay off the bike at least a couple more, maybe longer. At some point, I will get back on the horse, but only when I know I am healed and will not cause further damage.

When Mitchell registration opens, I plan to pull out my credit card as I have for the last two years. Since I won't have an off-season to get myself in shape, time goals are out the window. All I care about is finishing, whether it takes six hours or twelve.

We all have our stories. Many will try the Assault for the first time. Many more have already done it, and will try to beat their best time.

My plan is to talk about my progress, hopefully get some others involved, and point out options for people training. There is already a ton of valuable content on this blog and others that will help us accomplish our goals. Since this blog is for the riders, I encourage feedback and suggestions. This blog is for all of us to reach the same goal.

Happy Training!

Aaron West


  1. Will be my First Assault. I Have been riding 100's for years and ending my every year at 6GAP. How does the Assault compare to 6gap? Have not been on the bike much since early fall but plan on ramping it up Feb 1.

    Marshall Murphey

  2. Hey Marshall,
    Congrats on making the commitment! I rode Six Gap for the first time last year (with a broken hip, it turned out). They are both extremely tough rides, among the toughest in the southeast, but they are distinctly different. The top times are a little slower on Six Gap, which would make it seem harder, but there is also a lot more descending. You don't get that with Mitchell. For me Mitchell is tougher because of that and the early time of year, but people could make a good case for Six Gap.

    But don't worry. If you can do Six Gap, you can do Mitchell.

  3. Mitchell is harder than six gap because once you start climbing
    up 80 the climbing never stops. On 6 gap there are shorter
    climbs and steeper sections on Hog Pen but there is time to recover on the descents. If you area heavily endurance trained rider you can recover on 6 gap and the ride has moments of pleasure.
    Mitchell is pure hell once you reach the parkway.It is less
    visually rewarding, I call it the industrial strength ride ride.
    For guys who live in the mountains of Pennsylvania. Six gap is for guys who live in Italy.