Cyclist retires, brings 1,100 riders Oct. 27Published 6:31pm Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Spokes on 1,100 bikes are expected to spin their way through our foothills Saturday, Oct. 27 as world-renowned cyclist George Hincapie hosts a Gran Fondo in celebration of his retirement from competitive cycling.
John Cash, owner of Nature’s Storehouse and an avid cyclist, said it is a privilege for the area to witness a ride of this magnitude.
“Anybody who knows anything about cycling knows that these are the best of the best that are coming to ride,” said Cash. “This is such a special event because it will give everyone the chance of a lifetime to see world-class riders come through our town.”
Hincapie, whose career spanned 19 years, has ridden in the Tour de France 15 times and is the only cyclist to play a supporting role on eight Tour de France winning teams. He will bring with him numerous international riders from countries such as Australia, Spain and New Zealand, as well as riders he currently coaches. These riders themselves have ridden in the Tour de France and other notable rides such as the Paris-Roubaix and the Tour of Flanders.
Amateur riders will also ride alongside the pros.
The 1,100 riders will pedal from La Bastide Inn outside Greenville, down Hwy. 11 and around the back of Lake Lanier, before dropping into Tryon. Once in town they will ride together until splitting off at Hwy. 176.
Cash anxiously hopes to see spectators lining the streets of Tryon as the cyclists arrive between 8:45 and 9:30 a.m. He said what they would witness is something cyclist fans in Europe and other countries camp out overnight to see.
“We’re hoping to get a lot of spectators out to cheer them on,” Cash said. “If these riders see people lined up along the roadsides to watch, it will make [the riders] want to return to our area to ride again or simply visit.”
Cash knows this from personal experience. He said he and his wife have returned to Helen, Ga. many times because of the reception he received while riding in an event there. He said the spectators made riders feel welcomed.
When the Gran Fondo cyclists reach Hwy. 176, about 700 of the riders will head up to Saluda for the shorter 50-mile ride, while another 400, including Hincapie and Cash, will make their way over the mountains for a total of 80 miles.
“I’ve been a huge fan [of Hincapie’s] for a long time,” Cash said. “This is such an honor to be able to ride with him.”
These ambitious riders will continue on a route that Hincapie says is his favorite ride, a ride he often used for training during his career, over Skyuka, Howard Gap and Green River Cove. In a video offered on Hincapie’s website, the cyclist explains why this route, instead of more infamous ones around the world, is his favorite to use in training.
“Winding through the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains the roads surrounding Greenville, S.C. offer the perfect challenging terrain for a cyclist,” Hincapie explains. “They also offer some of the most beautiful scenery in the world.”
Cash said the ride covers roughly 8,000 feet of climbing terrain. In the video, Hincapie shows off the wooded areas he bikes through, waterfalls he passes and awe-striking vistas along the way. Hincapie used the video to invite fellow cyclists to make the trip to our area for his retirement ride. Hincapie plans however to make this an annual event.
Cash said next year he expects organizers will have to put a cap on the number of riders because the first ride already grabbed so much attention internationally.
The event also offers festivities for cyclists’ family members and the community, as the ride will end back at La Bastide around noon for the 50-mile riders. At La Bastide there will be family activities, exhibitors, food vendors, kids rides and local bands.
Cash added that if someone is particularly interested in helping out with the ride, there are still many volunteer spots available to assist with water stops and course monitoring along the way. If you would like to help out with the ride as a volunteer, call Cash at Nature’s Storehouse at 828-859-6356.
The Hincapie Gran Fondo will benefit three Greenville charities including Meals on Wheels. For more information, visit GranFondoHincapie.com.