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Blood Sweat and Gears ‘Hat Trick’ Kicks Off With Beech Mountain Metric Saturday, May 16

More than 500 cyclists participated in the inaugural Beech Mountain Metric. Photo by Amy Morrison
More than 500 cyclists participated in the inaugural Beech Mountain Metric last year. Photo by Amy Morrison

By Jesse Wood

The first leg of the inaugural Blood Sweat and Gears “hat trick” begins on Saturday, May 16, with the Beech Mountain Metric, an epic ride that begins in Banner Elk and climbs the Beech Mountain Parkway.

The hat trick is made up of Blood Sweat & Gears (17th annual ride on Saturday, June 27); the Blowing Rock Fall Classic (first ride on Saturday, Sept. 26); and the Beech Mountain Metric (second annual ride on Saturday, May 16).

So far more than 670 people are registered to ride to the top of Beech Mountain in a couple weeks and about 300 cyclists pre-registered for the hat trick, according to Blood Sweat and Gears President Scott Nelson. The hat trick capacity limit has been reached, and the Beech Mountain Metric is capped at about 780.

Last year, 780 people registered but more than 200 dropped out by race day, a total that Nelson attributed to snow flurries falling on Beech Mountain that morning. Still with more than 500 cyclists and their families and friends in town for the charity ride, the Beech Mountain Metric was estimated to have an economic impact of $340,000, according to a survey conducted by a department at Appalachian State University.

(In comparison, the classic Blood Sweat and Gears has an economic impact north of $1 million, and time will tell how many heads are in beds for the Blowing Rock Fall Classic.)

All three rides benefit nonprofits, charities or organizations doing good work in the community. Last year, funds from the Beech Mountain Metric were donated to volunteer fire departments and rescue squads, a girl’s running club at Bethel Elementary School, a food pantry with depleted shelves and needy students at Avery County Schools.

While the race is still two weeks away, the Beech Mountain Metric sort of kicks off on the morning of Saturday, May 2, with a training ride, so cyclists can test out the terrain and volunteers can work out the kinks.

Nelson said that 100 people participated in last year’s training ride and that he expects anywhere from 50 to 80 folks to participate in tomorrow’s training ride.

For more information on Beech Mountain Metric, click to http://beechmountainmetric.org.

Cycling Comes Back to Beech Mountain

This is an excerpt from a story in 2014, the first year of the Beech Mountain Metric: 

Fred Pfohl, owner of Fred’s General Mercantile, has been wearing his 1993 Tour DuPont jacket lately in anticipation of the inaugural Beech Mountain Metric, a grueling cycling event that begins in Banner Elk and ends atop Beech Mountain this coming Saturday.

See, in the ‘90s the Tour DuPont was among the nation’s premiere cycling events, a domestic one modeled after the Tour de France, and one of the stages of the race took riders up the Beech Mountain Parkway from 1993 to 1996. It featured high-profile European teams and attracted elite cycling talent such as Lance Armstrong and Greg LeMond.

“It was about the biggest thing that ever came to Beech Mountain,” Pfohl said. “We didn’t know exactly what to expect with the first one. It was like the circus came to town. They moved in over night, set up everything from grandstands to finish lines, to one of those big TV screens on a truck. Helicopters were in the air following the race and motorcycles – that was the first year the Highway Patrol used motorcycles – preceded the race to get people out of the way.”

After DuPont, a chemical company based in Delaware, dropped its sponsorship in 1996, organized road cycling ended its run atop Beech Mountain. But that will change during the upcoming weekend with the Beech Mountain Metric, which features two timed routes of 61 miles (8,000 feet of climbing) and 43 miles (5,600 feet of climbing). Both routes end atop the resort town.

“Well, we are definitely excited. Almost 800 riders, which you known anytime you bring that many folks to Beech Mountain and along with friends that come up with them, it’s a big boost to our economy, so we are excited,” Pfohl said.