SylvanSport takes on the 15th Annual Assault on the Carolinas

It’s been a rainy, chilly Saturday afternoon and I can’t help but think back to last Saturday, when 1,000 cyclists (and their families and friends) gathered in our small town of Brevard, NC for the 15th Annual Assault on the Carolinas. Mother Nature graced us with sunshine, blue skies, and a warm breeze (maybe even a little too warm at times). This perfect spring day brought out good spirits and helped calm any butterflies that might be stirring in rider’s stomachs.

1,000 riders lining up for the Assault on the Carolinas.

The Assault on the Carolinas is a road ride that offers a little for everyone. Riders can choose between the 100k (65.8 miles), 60k (37 miles), and 40k (25 miles) options. The100k has it all from flats, rolling hills, the infamous Walnut Hollow climb, fast descents, and a grueling 6-mile, 5,800ft climb up Caesars Head near the North Carolina-South Carolina border. The 60k riders will get to test their climbing abilities on Walnut Hollow, which is a local favorite. Walnut hollow is a steep, challenging climb that is 1.1 mile long, with grades reaching 15%. After climbing Walnut Hollow, riders enjoy a nice rolling ride home through the French Broad River Valley. The 40k ride goes through the scenic river valleys of Transylvania County and features some rolling hills and great scenery.

SylvanSport riders lining up at the start.

There are no time chips, no prize purse, and no official results. Just a beautiful, challenging ride with 999 of your closest friends, and maybe some bragging rights if you beat your time from last year. Yet, riders come from as far away as Canada to line up on Main St in downtown Brevard, hear our Mayor give his traditional opening speech, and ride anywhere from 2 to 8 hours through the mountains of North and South Carolina.

Team SylvanSport ready to GO!

Sometimes waiting can be as hard as riding.

SylvanSport represented with 6 riders flying our colors and all doing the full 100k ride. As we started lining up around 8:45am for the 9am start, temps were already in the 50s and people were started to shed layers, looking for someone on the side to toss their arm warmers and vests. At 9am sharp, the ride started and 1,000 cyclists started their way down Main St. Right out of the gate, you could feel that things were a little faster than they had been in years past. Within the first mile, there are 2 sharp turns that are always a little nerve-racking when you have that many riders, in such a small space, going that fast. In about 15 or 20 minutes, your at Walnut Hallow. Aside from being steep and painful, it does a great job of really spreading the group out a bit. After a descent down the backside, you get to ride along several miles on East Fork Rd, which follows the East Fork River. This is one of the prettiest sections of road in the area and better yet, it is slightly downhill and the road is nice and smooth. Hwy 178 take your through some big rollers and climbs and then a fast, curvy descent into South Carolina. The road takes you from 2,700ft to 960ft above sea level. It’s a great downhill run. Here you can feel the temps really warm up. By this time, it’s late morning and starting to reach into the 80s. Some of the warmest riding weather we’ve had all year. Just in time to climb Caesar’s Head. It’s a long grind, so just sit back, relax, and remember, when you get to the top, you still have almost 20 miles before your sitting down with a good meal and cold beer in hand. After Caesar’s Head, the rolling stretch of Hwy 276 always seem to have a head wind (regardless of which direction you are riding). Riding with at least a few other people will make it a painless as possible. A couple more turns and small climbs and your rolling back into downtown to the sounds of cheering, music, and cowbells. The finish area is like a mini festival, complete with a music stage, vendor tents, food, Oskar Blues beer, and lots and lots of people. It’s been a long, hard ride, but all that seems to fade away as you sit with friends over food and beer, sharing stories of where you bonked, where you felt strong, and how your pre-ride strategy went out the window within the first 3 minutes. It was a good day.

Assault on the Carolinas festival area.

SylvanSport mastermind, Tom Dempsey, getting interviewed at the start/finish line.

So, sitting here a week later, on a rainy Saturday, I am counting my lucky stars that I am not out riding 65 miles today. It’s time to get back out on the mountain bike and have some fun on the trails. All the while, looking forward to next year and another great adventure at the 16th Annual Assault on the Carolinas. Hope to see you there…now get out and ride!


Outdoor Gear Builders Village to showcase at Mountain Sports Festival in Asheville, NC!

Western North Carolina is home to a national park, several national forests and wilderness areas, and even more state parks. It only makes sense that outdoor gear manufacturers, like SylvanSport, would start their operations here or in other cases, relocate here. Not only is this area a perfect place to test gear, it provides employees (and owners) a fantastic quality of life, and is conveniently located to reach a large percentage of our country’s population. So, we did a headcount to see how many of us were actually out there making cool gear and clothing for people to get outside. There are over 30 companies in the western part of North Carolina researching, developing, testing, and manufacturing gear and clothing for the outdoor market. That’s pretty awesome!

So, to try and harness all this creative and physical energy, a group, Outdoor Gear Builders of Western North Carolina, has been formed to share knowledge and information and provide support for one another. With this, the Outdoor Gear Builders of WNC is excited to announce the first annual Outdoor Gear Builders Village at the 2013 Mountain Sports Festival in Asheville, NC. This will be a great opportunity for folks to check out and demo some world-class gear and clothing from locally-based manufacturers. As many of you may know, the Mountain Sports Festival is an absolute blast. It’s a 3 day festival, May 24-26, 2013, that has a little (or a lot) for everyone. Great music line-up, races, events, kids activities, and now, the OGB Village.

Looking at the list of other manufacturers in the area lets us know that we’re in really good company here. It also helps us to keep raising the bar on what we do and how we do it. We’re really excited to part of the Outdoor Gear Builders of Western North Carolina and hope that in the end, the real benefits will be felt by all of you.

Definitely check out the Mountain Sports Festival next month in Asheville and make sure you stop by the Outdoor Gear Builders Village to see some of the best gear that Western NC has to offer.

Stay tuned…we have an exciting post coming your way on a cool collaboration with Prestige Subaru!

Oskar Blues Brewery Update!

Back in September, we mentioned that Oskar Blues Brewery was preparing to set up shop in our hometown of Brevard, NC. Their plan was to be brewing by the end of the year. I’ll be honest, I thought it was a lofty goal to start from scratch and have a fully operational brewery running in about 4 months. Well, it’s now 2 months later and it looks like they are right on track! I will never again doubt the power behind the need for beer.

photo: Oskar Blues Brewery

Over the last couple of weeks, Oskar Blues has been receiving tanks, vats, lines, and all sorts of brewing equipment, in addition to building out the space to contain it all. As everything moves into place, the first run of Dale’s Pale Ale is schedule to be on December 12. They just held a “media & brewers” open house to show off their progress. Here are some pics of the facility taken by Rick from Asheville’s ROCK 104.9 radio station.

Moving the tanks off the 18 wheelers. photo: Oskar Blues Brewery

Preparing to set tanks in place. photo: Rick @ ROCK 104.9

280 12oz cans per photo: Rick @ ROCK 104.9

Media / Brewer Tour photo: Rick @ ROCK 104.9

So, mark December 12 on your calendar and get ready for some Dale’s fresh off the line. We’re psyched that these kinds of folks are not only moving into our area, but that they are here for the same reason we are. Stay tuned in an we’ll keep you updated on their progress!

Along with SylvanSport, Brevard, NC is now home to Oskar Blues Brewery!

Years ago, when SylvanSport was just starting out, the world was our oyster and we could pick, more or less, wherever we wanted to settle down and plant some roots. After a lot of soul searching and a stint in Cedar Mountain, NC (about 20 minutes from where we are now), we have settled into our cozy home that most people refer to as Brevard, North Carolina.

A little mountain town in western NC, Brevard boasts a population of around 7000 people. But here is where it gets good. We are 10 minutes from the entrance of Pisgah National Forest, which is home to some of the country’s best single track for hiking, running, and biking, fly fishing that rivals some of the “famous” rivers out west, and so many waterfalls, that you’ll need an abacus to count them all. We’re also about 20 minutes from DuPont State Forest and 30 minutes from Gorges State Park. So with all of this, it hard to imagine where a brewer of beer and a lover of the outdoors, such as the folks at Oskar Blues Brewery, would choose other than Brevard for their east coast brewery.

Starting with a restaurant in Lyons, CO in 1997, Dale Katechis decided to turn it into a brewery pub and did so well, in 2002, he became the first craft beer to can their goods, rather than bottle them. So started a revolution. After 10 years of canning, awards left and right, Dale has decided to open a brewery east of the great Mississippi. I guess he could have tried to find the most efficient location, closest to an interstate and central to distribution, but Dale’s love of small town, good people, and gobs of single track, led him to none other than, our home town of Brevard, NC. Construction has just started in renovating a truss plant to start brewing beers, offering tours, and tastings. They are hoping to up and running by years end or early 2013.

So, throw the bikes and boats on top of the car, load up the fly rods, hiking boots, camping gear, and running shoes and check out beautiful Brevard, NC. While you’re at it stop by and see us at SylvanSport! We’re about 1 mile from downtown Brevard and would love to show you around our facility and demo a GO  trailer for you! (remember: glass does not belong in the woods, bring your beverages in a can!)