Four years ago, Jennie Wyderko — then finishing up her undergrad at Virginia Tech — had barely even touched a mountain bike.
Fast forward to 2015, and she’s one of two female officers for the Nantahala Area Southern Off Road Bicycle Association, co-organizer of a women-only skills clinic and weekly ride through the club and a year out from finishing a 2,000-mile mountain bike route along the Great Divide in the Rocky Mountains.
Big white stencils of helmeted bikers now adorn a growing number of streets throughout Waynesville.
The plans are set: Waynesville’s getting invaded this fall, and the army will be 1,000 strong.
Semi trucks will haul luggage and portable showers, tents will dominate the lawn of the Waynesville Recreation Center and, most importantly, the soldiers, adventurous souls who have signed up to pedal nearly 500 miles across the state in Cycle North Carolina’s Mountains to Coast Tour, will show up with two-wheeled mounts in tow.
Brian Railsback learned a valuable lesson when he missed a September meeting of the Western Carolina University Honors College Student Board of Directors: skip a meeting, and you just might wind up volunteered to do a century bike ride through the mountains. As Railsback, Honors College dean and English professor, found out later, the meeting concluded with a decision that he should pedal 118 miles to the top of Mount Mitchell to raise scholarship money for the college.
“What happened was I missed that meeting, and they voted unanimously to move forward with it,” Railsback said.
For the past few years, the Blue Ridge Breakaway has lured cyclists to Haywood for a ride through the mountains. The big attraction is the sweeping views to be had along the route.
“They’re wanting to get up on the Parkway,” explained Melissa Tinsley, who coordinates events for the Haywood County Chamber of Commerce and is charged with the logistics of the annual Breakaway.
There’s also another pretty big attraction. “Tater-mater” sandwiches.
More than 400 riders will push off from Lake Junaluska Aug. 16 for the fifth year of the Blue Ridge Breakaway ride, their routes winding through the curvy, rural roads of Haywood County, with the two longer routes even venturing up to the Blue Ridge Parkway.
On a muddy Friday afternoon they gathered at Kituwah Mound, the Mother Town.
Preparing for the journey. Offering up prayers for the sendoff.
Bryson City is about to get a second bike shop with the grand opening of Tsali Cycles on May 23. Local cyclists Rob Acton, Chris Royce and Brad Gerard are teaming up to head the business.
The Waynesville skate park became an instant rock star after its debut last fall, gaining repute as a wildly popular concrete playground for all things on wheels gliding, sliding and flying over the ramps and rails all hours of the day.
When drivers veer off the road, they’re often alerted to the error by a vicious vibration caused by an ingrained groove laid into the asphalt. That groove is known as a rumble strip.