Rider Heads Up for the Assaults
What to expect for the next two days
Written by Peter Kay Event Director for 2011
Wednesday, May 11, 2011

What to Expect :

In an effort to guide everyone through the registration process and events with as few issues as possible, we've come up with an extensive blow by blow description of What to Expect this weekend.

Spartanburg will be a host of activity two days before the main events take place.

9:00 AM:
SPACE has partnered with the Assaults this year to offer the Cottonwood 5K Trail Run/Walk at Spartanburg High School (registration opens at 8:15am). You don’t have to be an Assaults participant to join in, making this a perfect event for friends and family members coming into town to support their rider! FREE EVENT

3:30 PM:
The Assaults will be showing a remixed and remastered version of the documentary of the 1988 Assault on Mt. Mitchell in our first annual Afternoon Film. Seating is limited. Complimentary tickets are available on our website. Come enjoy the history and the popcorn. This is good (nostalgic) fun for everyone! FREE EVENT

7:00 PM:
Globalbike presents the Assaults Vélo Social. This is our first annual cocktail party and mixer, and we hope that everyone can join us that night. Rahsaan Bahati and Robin Farina will be there, mingling with the crowd, so come out and take advantage of this opportunity to hang out with the pros! Plus, we will be serving RJ Rockers beer, Carriage House wines, and Palmetto Palate hors d’oeuvres. $15/person

SUNDAY, MAY 15 : Getting ready for the big day ahead, we will have the Expo, packet pick-up, and the Assault on Morgan Square.

2:00 PM:
Partners for Active Living has teamed up with the Assaults to offer our first ever Assault on Morgan Square, a kid’s ride with all ages welcome. The event will take place downtown on Main St. between S. Daniel Morgan Ave and Spring St. Budding athletes will “climb” the hill from the Herald Journal to the clock tower and “descend” back to the start. Prizes & Giveaways, helmets required. FREE EVENT

1:00 – 8:00 PM:
Packet Pick-up at the Spartanburg Memorial Auditorium. Here, registered riders can pick up their goodie bags filled with information and merchandise. What to Expect: Upon entering the room, you will see rows of tables labels such as “Mitchell (A-E)”, “Marion (F-M), Timing Chips, etc. Begin by going to your event table that is labeled with the first letter of your last name. There a kind volunteer will ask for your bib number, and then they will ask you to show your photo

ID and sign & date a release waiver.

After you have gotten your packet, please double check to make certain that you have everything you ordered (extra t-shirts, armskins, bus tickets, whatever). If you are a Mitchell rider, you will then proceed to the Timing Chip table where you will show your bib number and be assigned a chip.

NOTE: The timing chips are very expensive, and if you lose yours or fail to return it, your results will not be posted and you will be billed a $150 replacement fee.

Additional BUS TICKETS and MEAL TICKETS will be for sale as well. If you need a Sunday bus ticket (if you are planning to leave your car in Marion and need a lift back to Spartanburg), please note that the bus leaves Tom Johnson Camping Center at 4:00 sharp. You will need to purchase your tickets by 2:15 in order to make the drive to Marion in time to catch that bus.

NOTE: If you purchased a ticket online or during registration but can’t make it to the Expo before 2:15, there will be someone at the Camping Center with a list of people who have purchased Sunday Bus Tickets. Simply give them your name and get checked off of the list.

DRY CLOTHES BAGS: Outside the Expo, there will be TWO trucks – one will carry dry clothes bags to Marion and the other to the very top of Mt. Mitchell. Be sure to label your bag using the luggage tag in your packet (with the same number as your bib). This will help us to identify it after you finish, or in the case that you do not finish, we will be able to get the bag back to you more quickly.

MOST IMPORTANT: Pack all of your clothing into a trash bag (or water proof bag) which you then place inside your luggage bag. In case of rain, we will do our best to keep the bags dry, but wind and sudden onset makes this job a very difficult one.

Bring both warm and cool weather clothing. It is simply impossible to know what conditions will be like at the top (or even in Marion). Don’t forget to bring shoes, and a towel is highly recommended.

Many people pack a small amount of money - there is a concession stand at the top that serves hot chocolate, coke, and coffee (among other things). As ever, we will have the traditional tomato soup freely available to all finishers.

Bringing a plastic baggy with some hand wipes is also recommended. It’s a long ride down to Marion, and you may want to freshen up before boarding the bus.

Please DO NOT pack car keys or a wallet in your Mitchell bag. If you need your keys after the ride, either put them in your saddle bag and carry them with you for the whole ride (making sure to get them out before shipping your bike back to Marion) or pack a second bag that is shipped to Marion. Otherwise, you run the risk of being stranded if you cannot complete the event.

1:00 – 8:00 PM:
Once you have your packet and timing chip in hand, you will enter the Expo. Here you can peruse the many different cycling specific booths from Quarq to Powerback to Boyd Cycling. Several bike shops will be there, too, so you can pick up any odds and ends that you might have forgotten or may think you’ll need (nutrition/hydration goods, gloves, glasses, spare tubes, whatever!).

Palmetto Bank will be raffling off Assaults accessories like armskins, slipstreams, and base layers. Robin Farina will also be hanging out at the Uptown Cycles booth, and John DeLong will be hanging out at the Quarq booth. Outside, Trek will have several demo bikes ready for anyone to ride. It’s going to be an exciting afternoon!

We will not be having a Pasta Dinner as in years past. Far too many cyclists have specific routines and dietary desires, and interest in the dinner has been waning. In lieu of the Pasta Dinner however, we are hosting the Vélo Social on Saturday night (see above) in an effort to continue the tradition of bringing participants and the community together before the ride.

The Main Events!

5:30 AM:
Final packet pick-up and registration for Marion opens at the Memorial Auditorium. We highly recommend picking up your Mitchell packet at the Expo the day before (in case of any registration issues), however, we understand that travel etc may make this impossible.

6:00 AM:
Roads will be closed surrounding the Memorial Auditorium, so please give yourself plenty of time to find a parking space and get to the starting line.

Parking is available at the St. John’s St. Parking garage (upper levels only), at the Marriott parking garage (lower levels), as well as limited space behind the Memorial Auditorium.

Parking is NOT available in the lot across the street from the auditorium, at the Second Presbyterian Church, or anywhere on Wofford’s Campus.

6:20 AM:
Riders will be lining up for the start in front of the Memorial Auditorium. Please note the 3 Signs indicating where you should line up. The fastest riders will be at the front, most riders will be in the middle, and the slower riders need to be in the back. If this is your first time doing Mitchell, you will most likely fall into the latter two categories.

Flag Set #1:

This is reserved for the FASTEST riders. You should only consider riding with this group if you are planning to finish AoMM in 6:15 or less OR Marion in 3:30 or less. This means you have trained for the ride for months and you have a very high level of fitness (and most likely, you have done one or both of these events before). If you have not trained for the event and choose to start here you placing yourself and those around you at great risk of injury and/or failure. Please DO NOT start here unless you are a very skilled, trained cyclist with proper equipment and preparation. These are the top 10% of finishers, and it is DANGEROUS to illegitimately place yourself in this elite group.

Flag Set #2:

These are the serious Weekend Warrior riders. You should consider riding with this group if you have trained well, know how to ride in a peloton, are fast and fit, but not a "racer" - realistically, you know you will not be with the lead pack riding into Marion. To be certain that you have an enjoyable experience, it is best to consider your placement and preparation carefully.

Flag Set #3:

The majority of riders should line up behind this flag: those who are out for the experience and the joy of the event; those who did not train as much as you might have liked; those who are not racing the clock; and those whose main goal is to finish. Ask the people around you what their pace will be, and place yourself accordingly. Remember, we must all consider the safety and enjoyment of those around us as well as our own interests!

6:30 AM:
MASS START Both the Assault on Mt. Mitchell and the Assault on Marion will roll out at the same time and cover the first 74 miles together. After the Marion riders finish at the Tom Johnson Camping Center, Mitchell riders will continue the last 28 miles alone, plodding their way to the top of the mountain.

For details of the course, please read Paul's previous posts on our Training Blog and the Strava.com Event Page.

For driving directions to the Tom Johnson Camping Center, please visit our home page.

Spectator Bus Tickets will be for sale on the day of the event in Marion for $5/ea, and buses will begin as soon as the first group passes through.

The first few miles will be some of the most challenging – both mentally and physically. Cyclists jostle through the pack, trying to find the right place to sit in and enjoy the ride. The leaders will push the pace, stringing out the peloton. Several flat tires and ejected water bottles will cause alarming and dangerous changes in the pack. This is the most difficult time to tell yourself to be calm and find your own pace. The heat of the moment causes most riders to push themselves beyond their comfort zones, which can ultimately ruin the ride - by either burning themselves out, or causing a crash. When someone "blew up" in front of him last year, a close friend of mine was taken down in a crash, suffering a broken collarbone. His ride was over after only 4 miles!

Keep your head on your shoulders and your line straight & true.

While rolling out of Spartanburg, there are a few bridges to cross. The seams in the pavement at these points can abruptly change the peloton’s pacing, or surprise riders into overreacting. Similarly, there are a holes and cracks in the road shortly after crossing the I-85 bridge (while on Hwy 9) that can sneak up on cyclists if proper communication is not passed through the pack.

These bumps and seams will eject water bottles and disrupt the flow. This poses serious hazards to everyone. PLEASE exercise caution, maintain your line and pace, and COMMUNICATE problems that arise.

7:20 AM:
REST STOP #1 @ mile marker 22; the first cyclists will begin to pass by this rest stop manned by First Baptist of Spartanburg. The leaders will most likely not stop, but some more casual riders will pause and refill water and snacks.

8:10 AM:
REST STOP #2 @ mile marker 42; the lead pack will reach the second water stop sponsored by Walgreens (on behalf of the School for the Deaf and Blind). The pack will have split into several smaller groups after the hills on Pea Ridge.

Just after passing Rest Stop #2, riders are greeted with a long, seemingly straight downhill. At the very bottom of this hill is a sharp, hairpin curve that has ended many a cyclist’s morning ride. The newly “paved” section is now more treacherous than ever with loose stone and rough edges. We will have it clearly marked, but DO NOT come down this hill at high speeds. DO NOT pass other, intelligently cautious riders. DO NOT use this brief respite to try to get back to the peloton – there is a long flat stretch ahead for you to make that catch.

8:30 AM:
REST STOP #3 @ mile marker 47 – the summit of Bills Mountain; the front group will come by this rest stop sponsored by our friends at Mobile Meals.

Many SAGs will meet their riders at this important spot, and it is recommended that family/friends/support driving the SAG course get here before 8:15 to avoid delays (getting behind the pack)

Similarly, it is best that they drive down the mountain toward Hwy 64 (against the flow of the course) in order to get back onto the SAG route. From there, SAGs can leap-frog the peloton to Marion and avoid getting stuck behind a pack of cyclists.

9:10 AM:
REST STOP #4 @ mile marker 64; riders will begin to make this right turn onto ,this rest stop is Sponsored by SunTrust Bank, and we are exceedingly grateful for their support again this year!

9:40 AM:
REST STOP #5 @ Tom Johnson Camping Center in Marion, NC. The head of the peloton will roll through Marion after only 3-3.5 hours on the bike. This will be the elite riders, and it is incredible to see the speeds at which these athletes will cover the first 74 miles!

10:10 AM:
REST STOP #6 @ mile marker 85; halfway up the Hwy 80, volunteers from Bethel United Methodist will share encouragement and ice-cold drinks with those struggling to beat the 8-10% grades

10:20 AM:
REST STOP #7 @ mile marker 87; the leaders will begin to enter the Blue Ridge Parkway at this junction. Manned with porta-johns, tech support, and lots of fluids and food, the Spartanburg Humane Society help riders fuel up for the long, steady climb ahead.

The cut-off time to reach this point and to gain access to the Blue Ridge Parkway is 3:00 PM. One must average 10.25 mph over the course of the day in order to make it here in time.

10:40 AM:
REST STOP #8 @ mile marker 93; the elite group will pass the approximate midpoint on the Blue Ridge Parkway, with friends from the Running Club lending support at this rest area.

11:00 AM:
REST STOP #9 @ mile marker 98; the leaders should be entering the final leg of the journey . Placed at the last turn of the day (onto the Mt. Mitchell Parkway) this stop will be manned by volunteers from the Oak Brook Preparatory School.

11:20 AM:
REST STOP #10 @ mile marker 100; the first riders to enter the State Park will pass the last rest stop, also manned by the Oak Brook Prep volunteers. With the home stretch ahead, cyclists will have a brief respite, a temporary plateau, before the final kilometer grind to the top!

11:30 AM:
FINISH LINE; we expect the first finishers in roughly 5 hours, though if conditions are good, we may also see a new course record!

Once you reach the finish line, many different things will happen at once:
As you cross, Clint Davis will snap your photograph. (He will also have a backdrop set-up after the finish line for additional photo ops.)

One Volunteer will ask for and remove your timing chip.

Another Volunteer will hand you a patch – only one per customer, and only to the finishers!

A different Volunteer will ask you “Spartanburg or Marion?” while they take your bike from you. Tell them where you want your bike to be shipped. All passengers ride down to Marion and unload there. People who are taking the journey back to Spartanburg board a second bus in Marion to return to Spartanburg – their bikes however, take a direct trip from the top to Spartanburg or Marion.

(Be sure to grab your computer off of your bike, and car keys out of your bag)

Next, you will be guided up the stairs to the front of the Gift Shop where all of the luggage will be spread out on the ground. Once you find your own bag, use one of the SIX Changing Rooms in the parking lot (they look like extra large porta-johns) to change clothes and freshen up.Take a moment to have a warm cup of tomato soup from the Mt. Mitchell restaurant (a long standing tradition in the Assaults.) Hang out and watch a few finishers or wait for your friends.

Last, board one of the passenger buses to head back down the mountain to Marion.

Expect this to take about 1.5 hours including a few brief stops to cool the brakes along the way. (Spectators ride the same bus as the cyclists, and buses roll once they are full.)


Once in Marion, whether you are finishing there or returning from the top, you will be greeted with a healthy lunch catered by Palmetto Palate. All participants in both rides receive one lunch, and extra meals for family, friends, and supporters are $5/person (tickets available at the Expo and on event day).

Marion is the central staging area on the day of the ride. There will be massage therapists, showers, bathrooms, etc. Buses will be coming in and out of the Campground all day long, and trucks will be hauling bikes down the mountain every hour or so. There is also a large Rest Stop for the cyclists continuing to the top. With all of this activity, we ask that you keep your children in view and your pets on leashes at all times.


Once the first riders pass through, the spectator buses will begin to fill up. These carry family and friends directly to the top of Mt. Mitchell and avoid (as much as possible) driving on the same roads as the riders.

Once the first riders finish at the top, they will begin to board buses that carry them down the mountain back to Marion. Spectators ride the same buses as the cyclists, and each bus leaves the top once it is full.

Buses heading to Spartanburg from Marion begin to fill at about 1:00 PM and make the trip accordingly. They will run all day and as needed. Tickets will be for sale at the
Expo and on the day of the event.


There are 2 kinds of trucks that bring bikes back down the mountain. The first only goes as far as Marion whereas the second goes directly to Spartanburg. Remember to tell the people at the finish line where you want your bike to go!

In Marion, the bikes will be unloaded immediately from each truck and placed in a fenced off area. To retrieve your bike, go to the person with the clipboard and show them your bib #. You must have your bib # in hand to get your bike back!

In Spartanburg, the bikes will be kept in the lower level of the Memorial Auditorium under police supervision (in the same place as was packet pickup).

In both Marion and Spartanburg, space & time are limited, so we ask that you get your bike ASAP

TUESDAY MAY 17, 2011

Finish times and results will be posted @

Lost and found will be open, please contact us directly with questions regarding missing items

6:00 PM:
Ride of Silence. Leaving from the Memorial Auditorium, this short course is a good recovery ride as well as a great cause.

Clint Davis Photography brought to you by Palmetto Bank: finish line and event pictures will be available online @ http://clintdavis.net/assaults

Peter Kay
Assaults Director for 2011