Travel: WNC Outdoors
Gear up for competitions and activities that suit athletes and leisure-seekers alike
August 21, 8:30 a.m.
Ready to run hard and get wet? Head to Springmaid Mountain’s 10K Adventure Trail Run that leads participants through the North Toe River four times and boasts switchbacks, rocky spots, and other obstacles. If a 5K is more your speed, the Fitness Trail Run/Walk takes on a portion of the 10K race. Hosted by Springmaid Mountain, a 400-acre nature retreat just off the Blue Ridge Parkway, the event also offers a variety of activities for all interests, including horseback riding, fishing, hiking, canoeing, rafting, and even hay rides. Cabins and camping are available on site.
Registration: Friday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. $30; $25 advance. www.mitchellraces.com
Learn the Ropes
Bryson City Bicycles
Rentals from this bike mecca include helmets, tool bags, and racks along with your choice of a comfort, front suspension, or full suspension bicycle. www.brysoncitybicycles.com
Dutch Creek Trails
Enjoy one- and two-hour guided horseback rides through wooded trails and old farm fields along with “Cowboy Poetry” from the farm’s own Cowboy Keith. www.dutchcreektrails.com
Hawksnest Zip Line
One of the longest canopy tours on the East Coast, this zip line course with 10 cables takes riders over creeks, through the woods, and amid some of the best views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Lake Lure Adventure
For a total water-sport vacation experience, join the company’s certified instructors and learn to wakeboard, water ski, kneeboard, tube, or kayak.
Nantahala Outdoor Center
Enroll in any of a number of “Outdoor School Courses,” including white-water kayak or canoe instruction, fly-fishing, and river leadership or survival programs. www.noc.com
Rock climbing guides and instructors teach you to climb and rappel in the North Carolina mountains.
Fun For All
Hickory Nut Gorge Olympiad
Among its 20 competitions, this three-day festival includes a dragon boat race, golf and tennis tournaments, and children’s games. The main events? Three races in three days: Friday’s five-mile dam run, a scenic triathlon on Saturday, and a 7K bike ride or 5K run to Chimney Rock on Sunday. In between, enjoy a beach barbecue, fireworks, water ski show, and more.
Blood, Sweat, & Gears
This 100-mile bike race loops through a part of Watauga County that Lance Armstrong called “the best area for training in the whole of the United States.” True to its name, the ride features 13,000 feet of climbing, including an epic, 1,300-foot uphill on Snake Mountain. Other highlights of the race include a 21-mile section of the Blue Ridge Parkway and a 10-mile “flat” on old US 421. A 50-mile “half century” is available for those who prefer the sanity of a challenging, but shorter route. The bad news: registration for 2010 is closed. The good news: that gives you another year to train. Proceeds benefit the Watauga Area Chapter of the American Red Cross.
Valle Crucis Elementary, 2998 Broadstone Rd. Friday, 3-9 p.m. registration; Saturday, 7:30 a.m race. $55; $82.50 tandem team. www.bloodsweatandgears.org
Blue Ridge Brutal
This mountainous 100-mile trek through Ashe and Alleghany counties and
along the Blue Ridge Parkway lives up to its name: even the toughest riders have succumbed to the annual race’s Heartbreak Hill, a harrowing ascent up a 13-percent grade for nearly a mile. Participants can opt out of the full century ride and take a 75- or 50-mile route. All proceeds support community and school arts programs.
Ashe Civic Center, 962 Mt. Jefferson Rd. Saturday, 8 a.m. $50. www.ashecivic.com
Continental Divide Trail Race
Split between steep, single-track forest trails riddled with roots and open grassy balds, this extremely challenging 10K race, sanctioned by the USA Track and Field Association, traces mountain ridges with four 300-foot ascents. Cash prizes will be awarded to the top finishers in each of several categories. Meet other participants and stock up on carbs before the race at a pasta dinner Friday night. Proceeds from the race and dinner benefit Laurel Ridge Camp and Surry Central Cross Country Team.
Laurel Ridge Moravian Camp, 124 Pendry Dr. Saturday, 9 a.m. men; 10 a.m. women; 11 a.m. junior 5K. $40; $35 before July 31. $9 pre-race dinner. www.continentaldividetrailrace.com
August 28 & 29
This off-road triathlon kicks off with a three-mile kayak paddle on Fontana Lake followed by a five-mile trail run and a 12-mile mountain bike ride on a single-track course. Race solo on Saturday in one of five classes (Women’s and Men’s Open, Women’s and Men’s Masters, and the Grandmaster), or with a team on Sunday. Participants must bring their own bikes, kayaks, and any additional equipment.
Tsali Recreation Area, Hwy 28 N. Saturday, 7:30 a.m.-noon registration; 9 a.m. women; 1 p.m. men. Sunday, 7 a.m. registration; 9 a.m. team race. $45 solo; $90 team. www.goneriding.com