The Assaults on Mt. Mitchell and Marion
A Bicycle Challenge of You against THE Mountain

Mt. Mitchell is the highest peak East of the Mississippi River!

@ 6,684 feet at the top of the peak!

This page was updated last on April 18, 2023


The Assaults are scheduled for
MAY 22nd, 2023

This site is dedicated to
John Bryan
Founder of the Event

John Bryan
John Bryan
1934 ~ 2009


John Bryan

Where the Dedication took place

Bronze plaque found in front of the Spartanburg Auditorium
next to the Bicycle Marker dedicated to John Bryan

The Assault on Mt. Mitchell

6684 feet above sea level with
10,357 feet of vertical climbing!
One tough century ride!

Mass Start from in front of the auditorium

 In the beginning

The Assault on Mt. Mitchell® began when John Bryan and family were going up to Mt. Mitchell for a picnic in the Spring of 1975. 

“My wife, Helen, said I was crazy,” related John Bryan. “She told me that when we were picnicking on Mt. Mitchell in western North Carolina and I said I’d like to climb the 6,684 foot high peak on a bicycle.

In the fall of 1975, John Bryan attempted the trip by himself, but instead of starting from the foot of the mountain, he began 102 miles away in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Darkness fell before he made it to the top where he found the gate to the Mt. Mitchell State Park closed for the night.

The following year - 1976, John Bryan and six others dared one another into riding / biking the 102 miles to the top of Mt. Mitchell. One called it “The Assault on Mt. Mitchell.” The name stuck, and it is now an annual event in which thousands have and do participated in.

Riders from more than 43 states and world wide now come to Spartanburg every year to ride one of the toughest one-day bicycling events in the United States (as rated by Bicycling Magazine). At the elevation of 6,684 feet, Mt. Mitchell is the highest point east of the Rockies.

From this casual beginning, the annual Assault on Mt. Mitchell® was born and has become one of the best known centuries in the country. Along with the number of riders wishing to make this trip, there has been an increasing number of rules and regulations added each year to try to make the process of entering the Assault equitable. Also, keep in mind that a lot of these rules have been laid down by both the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Mt. Mitchell State Park Rangers for "bicycle rider safety reasons".

Then without warning one of the main riders of this event passed away unexpectedly. Thus the 22nd Annual Assault on Mt. Mitchell was run in memory of the late Kent Clary. Kent passed away in 1996. He was a veteran of 15 Assaults on Mt. Mitchell and a loyal Freewheeler.

Getting ready to start the Challenge!

The Count Down to start on the Marquee!

Please read more about the history of the event with the two interviews given by John Bryan to the Spartanburg Harold Journal News Paper.  This includes his last interview with the Spartanburg Harold Journal and may be found in the links below.

Now some of the rules governing this event

Read the section found below on what the new rules are and how they will be enforced by the Rangers.

One word of caution!

All of the National Federal Parks now requires that all bicycles have a red blinker light attached to the rear of the riders bicycle and a light on the front of the bicycle at all times while on the Parkway.  By the way this now includes all Federal Parks in the USA. These lights are to be on at all times. Remember that the Parkway is not closed for this event and normal traffic is allowed.  If you get hurt then it is a very long wait for medical help to arrive and if a chopper is called it will be a very expensive ride to the hospital if the chopper can even fly due to weather conditions. So the bottom line is make sure your lights has FRESH BATTERIES installed.  Your safety should always comes first.

The Assault is underway

Several years ago, in an effort to open the ride to more people, John Bryan decided that a second event in parallel to The Assault on Mt. Mitchell would be used to assist in a qualification for entry into The Assault on Mt. Mitchell. As such, The Annual Assault on Marion® was borne in 1993. For the first 73 miles, the two rides follow the exact same route. The Marion ride has just a little over 5000 vertical feet of climbing or about one half of the total climb to the top of Mt. Mitchell which has proven to be very popular with a lot of the women or wives of the men heading to the top. The Marion ride stops at the fifth rest stop in Marion which is at the Tom Johnston Camp Ground while The Assault on Mt. Mitchell riders continue on for another 29 very hard, grueling, steep miles and about another 6000+ feet of never ending vertical climbing to the top of Mt. Mitchell.  And this has proven to get some of the best riders to give up and ride back down to Marion and / or just simply quit!

As for the riders who do make it to the top, for their enjoyment, they have HOT soup, Texas bread and drinks waiting for them on top.  They also receiver the annual patch showing that they did in fact make it to the top of the mountain. Then all riders get on busses for the return trip down the mountain to Tom Johnston Camp Grounds in Marion.  Once they arrive at the Tom Johnsons Camp Ground, they are able to have a nice hot shower and enjoy a nice meal provided by The Assault on Mt. Mitchell Event. From this location they either catch yet another full size bus back to Spartanburg or join their family members and go directly home very tired and exhausted. If they elected to leave directly from Tom Johnsons Camp Ground then their bicycles are brought back to this location otherwise they go all the way back to Spartanburg SC for rider pickup.


SAG are not allowed on The Blue Ridge Parkway
nor on the top of Mt. Mitchell.  They are not to be
on NC-80 from Marion up to the Parkway either.

SAG's ~ Please take note of this.
The parkway fine is up to $500.00
and they have already written tickets.

Remember that SAG's are not allowed to come to the top of the mountain as parking is very limited and a large number of parking places are reserved for visitors traveling on the parkway. Due to the very narrow NC-80 route the event uses, SAG's are not allowed on this road either.  In the past, there have been a number of near misses with SAG's trying to pass bicycles to get up the mountain and end up almost colliding with the cars / trucks / motorhomes coming down the mountain and forcing the bicycles into the ditch or up the bank. NC-80 is just to narrow and dangerous for the SAG's to be on this road and trying to pass the bicycle riders.  Keep in mind that as far as the Rangers are concerned, you (SAGs) are not suppose to be on the parkway at all and you can and will receive a hefty fine in the area of up to $500.00 per ticket payable in Federal Court in Asheville NC if you are caught.  Also, if the rangers catch you entering the parkway at the NC-80 interchange you will be turned around.

Lead Moto and front pack crossing over the US-74 overpass in Polk County, NC

The History of the Assaults

In 2005, John Bryan approach Robin Michael about creating a history of the Assault on Mt. Mitchell for the web. I thought that this was a great idea and agreed to do it with and for him. So in collaboration with John Bryan, the history of this great ride was started to be documented.  John laid out much of the content of this site with the pages the way he wanted them to be presented. He provided much of the information to be include in these pages and also provided some of his own personal pictures and thoughts that he thought would be most apropos or valuable for inclusion in these pages.  Also he had provided me with several published articles about this event to be included in these pages as well. All this came from his personal archives.  These articles are & were simply scanned into the computer and then posted in these pages. John Bryan indicated that the rest of the information could be found from various resources such as some of the original and or from some of the older club members of the Freewheelers Bicycle Club and through their clubs archives.  To date not to much has been forth coming from the Freewheelers concerning the history of this event over the years since his passing. As a result, these pages are what I have been able to amass to date from my personal records and those that have been given to me by past club members or close friends of John.

The Finish on Top of Mt. Mitchell ~ Photo by Charlie Bobbish

During this period of time, John Bryan tried to find a clean copy of the 1988 Assaults Video tape that was filmed and mastered by WSPA TV of Spartanburg, SC. To this date, none have been found and provided to me for inclusion in these pages. At his request I then chose to try to re-mastered my very old, well worn copy from having present it so much to the public. It is & was in extremely poor condition but it is all that I had of this video. I was considering putting it on the net but at this time have chosen not to. Want a copy of what I have please contact me.

However, as we all know, cancer finally caught up with John Bryan and he did not live to see this new project completed. Therefore, I am trying to complete this undertaking for him in his memory.  So, if anyone has anything that they would like to include on these pages about the Assaults, be it pictures, articles, or memories, please contact me for the proper way to provide or submit this information to me.  Any hard copy or actual photos / pictures will be returned to you after it is scanned, mastered and edited for inclusion on these pages.


Top of Mt. Mitchell by Charlie Bobbish

A Special Request

I am also in need of the results and a copy of the registration list for the years of 2002 and 2003 of the Assault on Mt. Mitchell.  I am told that both of these years, the Spartanburg Freewheelers chose not to keep any records what so ever.  As a result there is no records of who entered (registration roster) nor whom finished this event.  This is sad as all of the other years are on line at this time with their respective finishing patches.  Any help out there in the Internet Land would be appreciated.  I am also in need of two of the Assault on Marion Patches for inclusion on these pages and to be included in a display of all of the patches for both of the Assaults. These are the 1st and the 11th year patches for the Assaults on Marion.  Should you have one or both and would be willing to donate it to be included in this display - please contact me and we will make arrangements to get the patch(s) so that it can be scanned so that they will match all of the others and then it will be added to the display.

First Handicap Rider finishes the Assault

Van Epps crossing the finish line.

In the 22nd Annual Assault on Mt. Mitchell - Van Epps finished the event in 15:00:00 on a hand powered trike!  He was the first handicap rider to enter and finish this event !  He did start much earlier with an escort of 6 bicycle riders to protect him from traffic since it was several hours before sunrise. A link to his story may be found below.

For a lot of the old time riders, I was the lead Moto from 1979 ~ 2006. I am in the picture below leading the front end of the ride on NC-108. Now due to health problems, I now setup all of the warnings and noise makers at the famous hairpin curve. See you there each year and y'all yell HI ! as you go by and smile for the camera!

This site is currently under continual revision.
This site is maintained by:
Robin Michael

E-mail address is -->

Lead Moto for the Assaults - Robin Michael - BMW R100/T



The Assaults Challenge will take place on
May 22, 2023

per Jenn Chew, event director.
For additional information visit the
Spartanburg Freewheelers web site.
Rules for 2023


Mandatory Safety Rules And Guidelines - click here.
Read this before you consider this event.

Mt. Mitchell and Blue Ridge Parkway rules on arrival times.

The 45th Assaults on Mt. Mitchell will have a
5:30 p.m. event stop time.

All cyclists must be on the Blue Ridge Parkway by 2:30 p.m.

All cyclists must be at the Mt. Mitchell Parkway (rest stop #9) by 4:30 p.m.

All riders must cross the finish line by 5:30 p.m.

All riders not at the aforementioned checkpoints or finish line by the times
 noted above will be picked up by an official event vehicle along the course
and driven to the finish line or back to Marion.

These new rules are by order of both the Blue Ridge Parkway and Mt. Mitchell State Parks.
Course Warnings
Things you need to know.
On screen Course Map
or view a PDF of the Course Map
The All Important Climbing Chart
Are you ready yet ?
The gearing that is needed
 Flatlanders really take note !
Blue Ridge Parkway - Bicycle Rules in PDF
Download and Read in TXT format


Heads Up ~ what to expect on registration day & the day of the event ~ this is a blow by blow description of this event!

Articles from the past about the Assaults
The unveiling of the plaque honoring John Bryan.
Article by Dudley Brown of the SHJ newspaper.
John Bryans last interview with Dudley Brown of the SHJ newspaper prior to his passing.
John Bryan Passes Away at age 74 from Lymphoma.
Hojo's history of the event and the running of the 26th Assault on Mt. Mitchell
from a Moto's viewpoint.
The Van Epps Story
First Handicap Rider to make it to the top on a hand powered trike.
Bud Campbell's Assault on Mt. Mitchell v2.0.
Michael from the Bicycle Inn, Bakersville, NC ~ written January 11, 2006 about the ride.
A First Timers Assault on Mt. Mitchell at age 50 !
The toughest 100-mile bike race in the East starts off winding
70 miles through lush Carolina countryside.
Then it turns ugly!
  By David Brill of the American Way Magazine, 1988.
Douglas Meade's @ Dept. of Mathematics @ USC wrote 3 articles about the Assaults:
1994 , 1996  &  1997.
Douglas also has a extensive web page on bicycle events at:
Jeremy's Trip Up the Mountain.
From yet another point of view.
St. Lukes Hospitals own Walker takes the challenge.
Boush's Comments.
Blomberg's Comments.
Random Ramblings on the Assault.
Blaylock's Thoughts.
From the WSPA News broadcast - The 2009 Assault.

Pictures and Videos

NOTE: I-Pad and Smart Phone users - please tap the start arrow and there is a slight delay for the start of the video due to the conversion routine required for your device.

The Assaults Flyover by Google Maps  
Play time is 4 mins. Get an idea of what the route looks like from the air.
2012 Pictures - Hairpin Curve ~ 12 mins.
2017 Hairpin Curve Video ~ 18 mins.
2018 Hairpin Curve Video ~ 12 mins
Brad DeLay's bicycle video of the 2012 Assault ~ 20 mins. 
This was shot with a helmet mounted GoPro Camera.

The Assault Patches and Results - Mitchell and Marion
Several very early patches were scanned and sent in and have been included on this page.
The Patches and Results for the
Assault on Mt. Mitchell from 1985 onward

We are missing the results for the years of 2002 & 2003. These results were never recorded according to the Assaults Staff per order from Mt. Mitchell Park Rangers. HOWEVER - Patches for all years are shown.
The Patches for the Assault on Marion
 There are 2 missing patches
We need to acquire the 1st and the 11th year patches for display purposes at the future Assaults - can you help out?  If so and are willing to donate your patch, please contact me for mailing instructions for inclusion in the full patch display.


Area Annual
Tours and Rides
The Assault on Mt. Mitchell and Marion
Official Web Page 
The Hincapie Tour & Challenge Event
Select the Gran Fondo Hincapie Link
The Fabulous 4th of July Tour 100k Century 
is now an OPEN ride found on this link.

You may ride the route anytime you wish.
Full info is found on this link as to the route
maps and suggested requirements.
This is one of the best fall rides in the area.

Content in all of these pages is copyrighted by the respective authors or photographers.
Please respect their work.  All items may be used if proper credit is given to the owners
work and personal webpage PLUS this webpage.

Note:  All of these newspaper articles are from the SHJ - Spartanburg Harold Journal - of Spartanburg, SC.
Copies of these articles were provided by John Bryan for inclusion in this page prior to his death.

Corrections and additions to these pages may be sent to:



Should you have pictures, the preferred format is TIF but JPG is ok but cannot be displayed any bigger than the original.  Any printed material to be submitted, but note that there are several ways to do this. Please do so in one of these formats:  *.TXT  >> NO FORMATTING <<  or any printed picture material that is scanned must be DE-SCREENED in FINE and saved in TIFF or may be scanned as a PDF which is the preferred format.  All material may be sent in email and / or on CD / DVD.  Please email me for mailing instructions.  Include source and your name and address etc. for reference and to be able to get in touch you if necessary.