First-Ever Tour de Tuck to challenge cyclists

Cyclists will be testing their legs and lungs on the roads of Western North Carolina later this month in the debut of the Tour de Tuck Bike Challenge on Saturday, Aug. 19.

This demanding, 102-mile timed ride traverses the scenic landscape of Jackson County with 11,000 feet of elevation change. The event derives its name from the finishing stretch along the Tuckasegee River, also known as the Tuck. There will be a shorter 60-mile ride available although event director Greg Duff expects the longer ride to attract more cyclists.

“It’s fierce and challenging,” Duff said. “You’ve got to be an accomplished rider who is used to long ascents up the hills and also experienced enough to handle the fast descents, which will be over 40 miles per hour in certain places. In terms of beauty, I don’t think there’s a ride that can surpass this. We have 40 miles of Blue Ridge Parkway, the Balsam Mountain range and the Tuckasegee River valley. It is quite scenic.”

Both rides begin and end in downtown Sylva. The 102-mile loop goes through Cherokee to join the Blue Ridge Parkway. From there, it follows the Parkway through Balsam and uphill to Richland Balsam, the Parkway’s highest point at 6,047 feet. After passing Devil’s Courthouse, the ride turns onto Hwy. 215 and goes past Bear Lake to the Tuckasegee River, which flows north along Hwy. 107 back to Sylva.

The 60-mile loop covers the same course until reaching the Balsam community, at which point it takes secondary roads back to Sylva. There’s a cue sheet for both rides, which describes the route in detail, plus maps and elevation profiles of the ride are at

“We want to attract people from all over the Southeast,” said Duff. “There is a cap of 200 riders this year, and we hope in future years it will entice more people to come to Jackson County and ride — and not just for the Tour de Tuck.”

The Tour de Tuck begins at 7:30 a.m. and is a fully supported ride with escort vehicles and five aid stations. The entry fee is $40 through Aug. 5, and $45 afterward. A full field of 200 is expected, so cyclists are encouraged to register soon. Registration is available online at, or by calling Greg Duff at 828.400.5868.

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