The 35th annual Assault on Mt. Mitchell took place drawing over 1300 cyclists. The 102.5-mile route encompassed 12,000+ vertical feet of cumulative climbing from Spartanburg, SC to the top of Mt. Mitchell, the highest peak in the Eastern U.S. This route is considered to be one of the most challenging in the entire country.
This year’s event was highlighted by one of the fastest average speeds in the history of the race. The Subaru-Gary Fischer team out of Charlotte, NC spent most of the day driving the pace in hopes of getting John DeLong to the finish first. As the road began to climb, DeLong and Boydbikes founder Boyd Johnson found themselves locked in a two-man battle to reach the summit. In the last five miles DeLong prevailed and cruised to the top in a hard-earned victory.
“I cracked so hard in the last mile I almost had to walk,” said Johnson.
Riding his own Boyd designed bike he finished the race in second place with a time of 5:07. Last year the Greenville resident finished fourth, and was determined this year to be the first to reach the peak.
Johnson made some modifications to his training program and equipment in order to beat his personal best on the climb.
“I’ve been doing specific intervals instead of five to six hour rides. Now I’m doing two hour rides and not wasting any training time.”
The Assault on Mt. Mitchell is organized by the Freewheelers of Spartanburg cycling club. This club, founded in 1973 has over 1000 members and is a non-profit community service organization. Katie Malone took on the daunting task of directing the logistics and race for 2010. More info about the Assault on Mount Mitchell can be found at: http://www.freewheelers.info/aomm/