By Jesse Wood
Feb. 3, 2014. That was fast.
The 750 spots for the signature 100-mile ride of the 16th annual Blood Sweat and Gears (BSG) event sold out in 16 minutes, while the 50-mile ride took a little bit longer, selling out 500 spots in about 80 minutes.
To participate in the ever-popular BSG charity bike rides, you have to be hovering over your computer or mobile device before online registration begins – and even then it’s possible you might not secure a spot.
Both sellout times broke the previous records set at last year’s registration by a considerable margin, which along with the popularity of the event is attributed to BSG working with a new company capable of hosting the high traffic of online registration. BSG Race Director Scott Nelson mentioned that at peak usage 1,400 people were on the online registration website at the same time, trying to secure one of the 1,250 spots in the charity ride.
“It was amazing,” Nelson said. “What’s fascinating about it is this is our 16th [annual] BSG, so the fact that we sold out in 16 minutes – whatever you choose to believe – I find that hardly coincidental.”
Blood Sweat and Gears 100-mile ride, which traverses the High Country, begins and ends at Valle Crucis Elementary School. It climbs 8,800 feet in all with the apex at Snake Mountain. The 50-mile ride features the last 28 miles of the century and rises 4,200 feet in elevation.
All the net proceeds of the event go to charity, and last year, Blood Sweat and Gears raised $105,000 for local nonprofits. The increase in money raised for charity correlates with the increasing popularity of the event among riders. To preserve the quality of the event, the ride is capped at a 1,250 limit.
In its first year of Blood Sweat and Gears, which was solely a Red Cross fundraiser initially, 70 people raced in the event. The second and third years saw 110 and 170 riders, respectively – a far cry from where participation stands today.
Sixteen years later, the founders of the Blood Sweat and Gears marvel at how they used to dream that cyclists would support this event with such exuberance. Some time after learning that that more than 1,400 people were on the registration website simultaneously, Nelson and Jim Harmon were on the phone together laughing.
“We both laughed because you know, in our minds, we dreamed that this would happen, but we never thought it would,” Nelson said. “Now that it has, what do we do for an encore. We’ve got to keep pushing, got to keep improving and focusing on other areas now. Just keep pushing and raising the bar and keep on doing that BSG thing.”
Nelson added that 16 years later, the event still feels as if it is just scratching the surface on what it can achieve and how much it can support the community.
“In terms of what we think we can do, we just shake our heads because it feels like a rocket on a launch pad,” Nelson said. “We’ve been doing it 16 years and we’re still on the launch pad. We still don’t know the full potential of what good we could do. We really don’t know, and it’s our job to pursue and find out.”
One thing new for this year’s BSG is the alliance with Appalachian Mountain Brewery. AMB will not only host the post-race party, but it is brewing a “BSG beer” with the moniker The 1st Revolution, which plays off of BSG’s slogan “Helping our community one revolution at a time.”
Blood Sweat and Gears is hosting 20 Ride2Recovery athletes, wounded vets in the process of rehabilitating both physically and mentally. This was something that Appalachian Mountain Brewery wanted to be a part of, and it has decided to donate a portion of its net proceeds of The 1st Revolution pints sold to the R2R program.