A meeting seeking feedback on an emerging plan to turn Sylva’s Pinnacle Park into a mountain biking destination drew about 70 people to the Mad Batter Food and Film last week, and after a night of fielding questions and taking comments, the folks behind the effort are feeling positive about its future.
For the past decade, Sylva’s Pinnacle Park has had Sae Smyrl envisioning a lofty future for the hiking area. A mountain biker for the past 40 years, Smyrl would walk the trail and think how great it would be to ride his bike through the 1,100-acre forest. Bikes are allowed on the existing trail, but it’s way too steep for the sport to be fun.
A plan is now afoot to make Smyrl’s dream a reality, with the Nantahala Area Southern Off Road Bicycling Association pursuing a goal to bring some 30 miles of biking trail, featuring loops of various difficulty levels, to the Fisher Creek watershed.
Franklin is one step closer to outlining a plan to provide better connectivity throughout the town for pedestrians and bicyclists.
By Jamie Arnold • Contributing writer
It’s a 95-degree Sunday afternoon. Most folks are at the lake, or lounging on the couch with a cold beer. Me? I’m on my mountain bike, grinding my way up a 5,000-foot mountain, all because my buddy Don decided to add the Off Road Assault on Mount Mitchell to his bucket list.
Following the vein of cheap tattoos, lost wallets and accidental scars, a beer-induced challenge ended with both of us registered to compete in the infamous July 31 event. Now, two months later, we’re winding our way up a dusty brown gravel wall. A loud truck rumbles past, throwing even more gritty dust into the stifling 90-degree air. I glance down at my wheels to see the slow, never-ending gravel treadmill as I pick my way up the mountain.
The parking lot at Tsali Recreation Area was full of bikes Friday evening — more than 100 of them, strapped to the backs of sedans and SUVs, tied into beds of pickup trucks, license plates running the gamut from Florida to Virginia to Mississippi. Gears were spun, wheelies popped, hoorahs yelled as mountain bikes shot down the trail or gathered in a shiny metal line to await the start of the group ride.
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“I’m kinda excited,” said Rob Burgess, prepping his bike in the parking lot. “Tsali is one of the epic trails.”
As national champion Karen Tripp likes to say, cyclo-cross is a sport that you win by seconds. And that’s just how the Sylva resident conquered nationals in Asheville this year. By seconds — 34 of them.
“I think my mind and my focus was there,” Tripp said. “They all have to come together just right, because not every race is like that.”
Diane Cutler, Co-owner Bryson City Bicycles. Board Member – Nantahala Area Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association. www.brysoncitybicycles.com.
It’s all hands on deck this weekend as Waynesville prepares to welcome more than 1,100 cyclists and their families to town for the start of the Cycle N.C. Mountains to Coast Ride.
Waynesville was fortunate enough to be selected as the starting point for the weeklong, 500-mile bicycle ride across the state, and town and tourism development officials have been prepping for months to make sure the event goes off without a hitch.
Since the first wheels starting turning in 2010’s inaugural Blue Ridge Breakaway bike ride, cycling has been picking up speed in Haywood County. And as more cyclists have flocked to the annual cruise of Haywood’s scenic byways, the county’s reputation as a cycling destination for the remaining 364 days of the year has grown as well. There might not be a lot of hard data on that yet, but the anecdotes flow freely.
For veterinarian Brian Birthright, what would become a lifelong passion for biking began in the most fitting of ways — with a dog.
Then living in New England, Birthright was the owner of an overactive puppy who just wouldn’t tire. That’s what led him to take up mountain biking.