The fifth-annual Bookwalter Binge Gran Fondo, which has grown into a Western North Carolina fall cycling classic, is giving it the old college try this year.
You can read the full story here: http://www.citizen-times.com/story/sports/2017/10/25/brent-bookwalter-george-hincapie-ride-wnc-bookwalter-binge-gran-fondo/798525001/
BLACK MOUNTAIN – On this side of the pond, and in this corner of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Bookwalter Binge Gran Fondo might be the closest we get to rubbing elbows with bicycling greats who grace the Tour de France.
The fourth annual Binge, Oct. 28, brings some of cycling’s heavyweights, including now-retired 17-time Tour de France veteran George Hincapie, of Greenville, South Carolina; Michael Sayers, team director of BMC Racing in the Tour and USA National team director during the last two Olympics; and Asheville pros Jonny Clarke with Team UnitedHealthcare and John Murphy with Team Holowesko|Citadel p/b Hincapie Sportswear.
A slew of others will include Larry Warbasse, reigning U.S. National Road Race champion; Thomas Revard, reigning U23 criterium champion; pro riders Mary Zider and Andrea Smith; with Colavita Admin, Ty Magner and TJ Eisenhart.
And of course, Brent Bookwalter. The Asheville resident, four-time Tour de France veteran with BMC Racing and 2016 Rio Summer Games Olympian will ride in the event he started with his wife, Jamie Bookwalter, also a former professional cyclist.
“It's a relaxed ride, but it’s still studded with racing on timed segments of tough climbs that provide an epic challenge to all,” Jamie Bookwalter said.
The Binge is “a party on two wheels," including three routes that pass through scenic fall foliage on backroads of Buncombe, Henderson and McDowell counties.
All rides start and end at Pisgah Brewing Co. in Black Mountain:
- The Gran: 83 miles with 7,400 feet of climbing
- Medio: 62 miles with 5,500 feet of climbing
- Piccolo: 29 miles with 2,500 feet of climbing
“This is an unusual opportunity to ride alongside female and male pro cyclists as they celebrate the end of their season racing all over the world and the country,” Bookwalter said.
Along with Brent, the pros ride all three routes, mingling with other riders until the timed sections, where brave cycling souls can try to catch them. The ride, however, is open to cyclists of all abilities.
Jamie Bookwalter said the ride has continued to grow each year, and this year registration includes cyclists from 23 states.
UPDATE: TUNE UP IS SOLD OUT For the second year, the Bookwalters will hold the Binge Tune-Up, a more intimate ride led by the couple on the morning of Oct. 27, followed by lunch at the Native Kitchen in Swannanoa. The Tune-Up is sold out, but folks can still join the couple for lunch.
Volunteers are still needed, however, for the Gran Fondo, who will receive a T-shirt, burrito from Mamacitas, and a beer if they are 21 or older.
The Bookwalters both are dedicated to protecting the environment and open spaces. The Binge and the Binge Tune-Up are fundraisers for the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy, an Asheville nonprofit land trust that works to protect environmentally important lands across Western North Carolina.
“We’re proud of the way the Asheville region has embraced this event, with more than 100 volunteers and more than 12 government agencies working together to make this event safe and fun,” Jamie Bookwalter said.
“Our community welcomes participants and pros from all over the U.S. traveling here to enjoy some of the most beautiful roads in the Blue Ridge Mountains.”
Each ride will include marked courses, follow vehicles, aid stations, and timed segments for those who wish to compete against the professionals. The Binge after-party will include food from Mamacita's, a raffle and door prizes.
Want to ride?
For maps, registration and more, visit www.bookwalterbinge.com.