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The Assaults on Mt. Mitchell and Marion
A Bicycle Challenge of You against the Mountain

Mt. Mitchell is the highest peak East of the Mississippi River!

@ 6,684 feet at the peak!

 

This site is dedicated to
John Bryan
Founder of the Event

John Bryan
John Bryan
1934 ~ 2009




John Bryan


Where the Dedication took place


Bronze plate found in front of the Spartanburg Auditorium
next to the Bicycle Marker dedicated to John Bryan




The Assault on Mt. Mitchell

6684 feet above sea level with
10,357 feet of vertical climbing!
One tough century ride!


Mass Start from in front of the auditorium

 In the beginning

The Assault on Mt. Mitchell® began when John Bryan and family were going up to Mt. Mitchell for a picnic in the Spring of 1975. 

“My wife, Helen, said I was crazy,” related John Bryan. “She told me that when we were picnicking on Mt. Mitchell in western North Carolina and I said I’d like to climb the 6,684 foot high peak on a bicycle.

In the fall of 1975, John Bryan attempted the trip by himself, but instead of starting from the foot of the mountain, he began 102 miles away in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Darkness fell before he made it to the top where he found the gate to the Mt. Mitchell State Park closed for the night.

The following year - 1976, John Bryan and six others dared one another into riding / biking the 102 miles to the top of Mt. Mitchell. One called it “The Assault on Mt. Mitchell.” The name stuck, and it is now an annual event in which thousands have and do participated in.

Riders from more than 43 states and world wide now come to Spartanburg every year to ride one of the toughest one-day bicycling events in the United States (as rated by Bicycling Magazine). At the elevation of 6,684 feet, Mt. Mitchell is the highest point east of the Rockies.

From this casual beginning, the annual Assault on Mt. Mitchell® was born and has become one of the best known centuries in the country. Along with the number of riders wishing to make this trip, there has been an increasing number of rules and regulations added each year to try to make the process of entering the Assault equitable. Also, keep in mind that a lot of these rules have been laid down by both the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Mt. Mitchell State Park Rangers for "bicycle rider safety reasons".

Then without warning one of the main riders of this event passed away unexpectedly. Thus the 22nd Annual Assault on Mt. Mitchell was run in memory of the late Kent Clary. Kent passed away in 1996. He was a veteran of 15 Assaults on Mt. Mitchell and a loyal Freewheeler.


Getting ready to start the Challenge!


The Count Down to start on the Marquee!


Please read more about the history of the event with the two interviews given by John Bryan to the Spartanburg Harold Journal News Paper.  This includes his last interview with the Spartanburg Harold Journal and may be found in the links below.


Now some of the rules governing this event

Since part of the ride is along the Blue Ridge Parkway and then turns up at the entrance to Mt. Mitchell State Park,  the number of riders is now limited by both the The Blue Ridge Parkway and the Mt. Mitchell State Park Ranger rules. So, as a result, the Assault on Mt. Mitchell® has now been set to a limited of 750 rider allowed as finishers for a number of years. Therefor the ride will register approx. 1000 riders since the attrition rate will reduce the total number of finisher to the required maximum number. On top of this, the Park Rangers will not allow you to ride your bicycle back down the mountain, thus you are required to turn your bicycle over to a someone to have it loaded into one of the large trucks for the return trip to either Marion or direct to Spartanburg. This is by order of the park services. NO EXECPTIONS.

One word of caution

All of the National Federal Parks now mandates that all bicycles have a red blinker light attached to the rear of the riders bicycle and either a white reflector or light on the front of the bicycle at all times while on the Parkway.  By the way this includes all Federal Parks in the USA. This blinker light is to be on at all times and especially when passing thru any of the three dark tunnels along the entire route on the parkway or when riding in bad weather so that you are visible to motorist.  Remember that the Parkway is not closed for this event and normal traffic is allowed.  If you get hurt then it is a very long wait for medical help to arrive and if a chopper is called it will be a very expensive ride to the hospital if the chopper can even fly due to weather conditions. So the bottom line is make sure your light has FRESH BATTERIES installed in the lights or your reflectors are clean of dirt.  Your safety should always comes first.



The Assault is underway


Several years ago, in an effort to open the ride to more people, John Bryan decided that a second event in parallel to The Assault on Mt. Mitchell would be used to assist in a qualification for entry into The Assault on Mt. Mitchell. As such, The Annual Assault on Marion® was borne in 1993. For the first 73 miles, the two rides follow the exact same route. The Marion ride has just a little over 5000 vertical feet of climbing or about one half of the total climb to the top of Mt. Mitchell which has proven to be very popular with a lot of the women or wives of the men heading to the top. The Marion ride stops at the fifth rest stop in Marion which is at the Tom Johnston Camp Ground while The Assault on Mt. Mitchell riders continue on for another 29 very hard, grueling, steep miles and about another 6000+ feet of never ending vertical climbing to the top of Mt. Mitchell.  And this has proven to get some of the best riders to give up and ride back down to Marion and / or just simply quit!

As for the riders who do make it to the top, for their enjoyment, they have HOT soup, Texas bread and drinks waiting for them on top.  They also receiver the annual patch showing that they did in fact make it to the top of the mountain. Then all riders get on busses for the return trip down the mountain to Tom Johnston Camp Grounds in Marion.  Once they arrive at the Tom Johnsons Camp Ground, they are able to have a nice hot shower and enjoy a nice meal provided by The Assault on Mt. Mitchell Event. From this location they either catch yet another full size bus back to Spartanburg or join their family members and go directly home very tired and exhausted. If they elected to leave directly from Tom Johnsons Camp Ground then their bicycles are brought back to this location otherwise they go all the way back to Spartanburg SC for rider pickup.


W A R N I N G

SAG are not allowed on The Blue Ridge Parkway
nor on the top of Mt. Mitchell.  They are not to be
on NC-80 from Marion up to the Parkway either.


SAG's ~ Please take note of this.
The parkway fine is up to $5000.00
and they have already written tickets.


Remember that SAG's are not allowed to come to the top of the mountain as parking is very limited and a large number of parking places are reserved for visitors traveling on the parkway. Due to the very narrow NC-80 route the event uses, SAG's are not allowed on this road either.  In the past, there have been a number of near misses with SAG's trying to pass bicycles to get up the mountain and end up almost colliding with the cars / trucks / motorhomes coming down the mountain and forcing the bicycles into the ditch or up the bank. NC-80 is just to narrow and dangerous for the SAG's to be on this road and trying to pass the bicycle riders.  Keep in mind that as far as the Rangers are concerned, you (SAGs) are not suppose to be on the parkway at all and you can and will receive a hefty fine in the area of up to $5000.00 per ticket payable in Federal Court in Asheville NC if you are caught.  Also, if the rangers catch you entering the parkway at the NC-80 interchange you will be turned around.


Lead Moto and front pack crossing over the US-74 overpass in Polk County, NC


The History of the Assaults

In 2005, John Bryan approach me (Robin) about creating a history of the Assault on Mt. Mitchell for the web. I thought that this was a great idea and agreed to do it with / for him. So in collaboration with John Bryan, the history of this great ride was started to be documented.  John laid out much of the content of this site with the pages the way he wanted them to be presented. He provided much of the information to be include in these pages and also provided some of his own personal pictures and thoughts that he thought would be most apropos or valuable for inclusion in these pages.  Also he had provided me with several published articles about this event to be included in these pages as well. All this came from his personal archives.  These articles are / were simply scanned into the computer and then posted in these pages. John Bryan indicated that the rest of the information could be found from various resources such as some of the original and / or older club members of the Freewheelers Bicycle Club and through their clubs archives.  To date not to much has been forth coming from the Freewheelers concerning the history of this event over the years since his passing. As a result, these pages are what I have been able to amass to date from my personal records and those that have been given to me by past club members and / or close friends of John.


The Top of Mt. Mitchell ~ Photo by Charlie Bobbish

During this period of time, John Bryan tried to find a clean copy of the 1988 Assaults Video tape that was filmed and mastered by WSPA TV of Spartanburg, SC. To this date, none have been found and provided to me for inclusion in these pages. At his request I then chose to try to re-mastered my very old, well worn copy from having present it so much to the public. It is / was in extremely poor condition but it is all that I had of this video. I was considering putting it on the net but at this time have chosen not to.

However, as we all know, cancer finally caught up with John Bryan and he did not live to see this new project completed. Therefore, I am trying to complete this undertaking for him in his memory.  So, if anyone has anything that they would like to include on these pages about the Assaults, be it pictures, articles, or memories, please contact me for the proper way to provide or submit this information to me.  Any hard copy or actual photos / pictures will be returned to you after it is scanned, mastered and edited for inclusion on these pages.

 


Top of Mt. Mitchell by Charlie Bobbish

A Special Request

I am also in need of the results an / or a registration list for the years of 2002 and 2003 of the Assault on Mt. Mitchell.  I am told that both of these years, the Spartanburg Freewheelers chose not to keep any records what so ever of whom entered (registration roster) nor whom finished this event.  This is sad as all of the other years are on line at this time with their respective finishing patches.  Any help out there in the Internet Land would be appreciated.  I am also in need of two of the Assault on Marion Patches for inclusion on these pages and to be included in a display of all of the patches for both of the Assaults. These are the 1st and the 11th year patches.  Should you have one and would be willing to donate it to be included in this display - please contact me and we will make arrangements to get the patch(s) so that it can be scanned so that they will match all of the others and then it will be added to the display.


First Handicap Rider finishes the Assault


Van Epps crossing the finish line.

In the 22nd Annual Assault on Mt. Mitchell - Van Epps finished the event in 15:00:00 on a hand powered trike!  He was the first handicap rider to enter and finish this event !  He did start much earlier with an escort of 6 bicycle riders to protect him from traffic since it was several hours before sunrise. A link to his story may be found below.


For a lot of the old time riders, I was the lead Moto from 1979 ~ 2006. I am in the picture below leading the front end of the ride on NC-108. Now due to health problems, I now setup all of the warnings and noise makers at the famous hairpin curve. See you there each year and y'all yell HI ! as you go by and smile for the camera!

This site is currently under continual revision.
This site is maintained by:
Robin Michael

E-mail address is --> robin312@charter.net


Lead Moto for the Assaults - Robin Michael - BMW R100/T



Information that you need to know to be safe
while riding in the Assaults on Mt. Mitchell Challenge
and while you are on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Course Warning ~ Things you need to know. On screen Course Map or view a PDF Course Map
The All Important Climbing Chart ~ Are you ready yet ? The Gearing Needed ~ Flatlanders really take note !
Blue Ridge Parkway  Bicycle Rules in PDF or
Download and Read in TXT format
.
Heads Up ~ what to expect on registration day & the day of the event - a blow by blow description
Articles from the past about the Assaults
The unveiling of the plaque honoring John Bryan - article by Dudley Brown of the SHJ newspaper.
John Bryans last interview with Dudley Brown of the SHJ newspaper prior to his death.
John Bryan Passes Away at age 74 from Lymphoma.
Hojo's history of the event and the running of the 26th Assault on Mt. Mitchell from a Moto's viewpoint.
The Van Epps Story - First Handicap Rider to make it to the top on a hand powered trike.
Bud Campbell's Assault on Mt. Mitchell v2.0
Michael from the Bicycle Inn, Bakersville, NC written January 11, 2006 about the ride.
A First Timers Assault on Mt. Mitchell at age 50 !
The toughest 100-mile bike race in the East starts off winding 70 miles through lush Carolina countryside.
Then it turns ugly.
  By David Brill of the American Way Magazine, 1988.
Jeremy's Trip Up the Mountain.
From yet another point of view.
St. Lukes Hospitals own Walker takes the challenge.
Boush's Comments.
Blomberg's Comments.
Random Ramblings on the Assault.
Blaylock's Thoughts.
From the WSPA News broadcast - The 2009 Assault.


Pictures and Videos

Please note that depending on the speed of your internet, these videos may have to be buffer or downloaded to your computer or I-Pad before play.  If this should happen simply go do something else and come back later.

Then simply click on the  >> Play it again << and enjoy the video.

NOTE: I-Pad and Smart Phone users - please tap the start arrow and there is a slight delay for the start of the video due to the conversion routine required for your device.

The Assaults Flyover by Google Maps  4 mins.
Get an idea of what the route looks like from the air.
2009 Hairpin Curve Video  ~ 15 mins.
2012 Pictures - Hairpin Curve ~ 12 mins.
2017 Hairpin Curve Video ~ 18 mins.
Brad DeLay's on his bicycle video of the 2012 Assault ~ 20 mins. 
This was shot with a helmet mounted GoPro Camera.


The Assault Patches and Results - Mitchell and Marion
Several very early patches were scanned and sent in and have been included in this page
The Patches and Results for the Assault on Mt. Mitchell from 1985 onward
We are missing the results for the years of 2002 & 2003. Patches for all years are shown.
The Patches for the Assault on Marion  There are 2 missing patches - We need to acquire the 1st and the 11th for display purposes at the future Assaults - can you help out?  If so and are willing to donate your patch, please contact me ASAP for mailing instructions for inclusion in the full patch display.   robin312@charter.net



Area Annual Tours and Rides
The Assault on Mt. Mitchell and Marion Official Web Page 
The Hincapie Tour & Challenge Event
The Fabulous 4th of July Tour
has been canceled for this year.
The Tour de Leaves Metric Century Ride

 
Content in all of these pages is copyrighted by the respective authors or photographers.
Please respect their work.  All items may be used if proper credit is given to the owners
work and personal webpage PLUS this webpage.

Note:  These newspaper articles are from the Spartanburg Harold Journal of Spartanburg, SC.
Copies of these articles were provided by John Bryan for inclusion in his pages prior to his death.

These pages last updated on May 18, 2017

Corrections and additions to these pages may be sent to:
robin312@charter.net

Should you have pictures, preferred format is TIF but JPG is ok but cannot be displayed any bigger
than the original.  Any printed material to be submitted, please do so in  *.TXT  >> NO FORMATTING << 
and any printed material that is scanned must be DESCREENED in FINE and saved in TIF.  All material
may be sent in email or on CD / DVD.  Please email me for mailing instructions.