Last modified: Aug. 16
“Water, Gatorade. Do you guys need anything?” SSSink co-owner Gary Prange offered as more than 30 bicyclists streamed past the Brutal 100’s first rest stop near the Northwest Trading Post in Glendale Springs.
And although none of that first group took him up on the offer, Prange looked around with a grin.
“It’s a little humid this morning, but they’re moving good,” Prange said. “I don’t think anybody will set a record pace today, but they looked good.”
Prange, along with wife, Debbie, and SSSink’s John Herbert, are among a core group of volunteers that Brutal 100 organizer Jane Lonon said make the ride special.
“We simply couldn’t pull this ride off without our volunteers,” Lonon said. “In fact, that volunteer support is always something that gets positive mentions from our riders in our survey.”
And although it wasn’t a record race pace, the 24th annual Blue Ridge Brutal 100 did set a registration record at 401 riders, according to Lonon.
“This year turned out absolutely great,” Lonon said. “I’d venture to say it was the best Brutal ever. We registered more riders than we ever have, there were no accidents or bike incidents to speak of, which always make for a great ride. The rain even held off until the last rider came in.”
Boone’s Paul Capua finished first overall in the 100-mile ride in a time of 5:00:55.1, followed by Josh Riddle of Wilmington at 5:03:47.5, Charlotte’s Dung Le at 5:03:48.3, and Paul Armfield, of Winston-Salem, in 5:03:39.9.
Lars Tonnesen of Charlotte finished first in the 75-mile ride in 3:39:40.1, followed by Bo Butler of Moorseville at 3:39.40.3 and Tommy Russell, of Kingsport, Tenn., at 3:43:11.1.
Christian Platzl of Denver finished first in the 57-mile ride in 2:43:11.1, followed by Kevin Sweeney, of Fort Mill, S.C., at 2:45:03.6; and Chris Cosper, of Phoenix, Md., at 2:45:04.2.
Each August, hundreds of bike riders from across the southeast gather at the Ashe County Civic Center to take on 100 miles of scenic blacktop backroads as part of the Blue Ridge Brutal 100.
Billed as the primary fundraiser for the Ashe County Civic Center, the Brutal 100 tours Ashe and Alleghany counties and portions of the Blue Ridge Parkway.
In addition to the event’s signature 100-mile route, the ride offers 57- and 75-mile supported routes, as well, each beginning and ending at the Ashe County Civic Center. Each route offers riders gorgeous views, including breathtaking stretches of the Blue Ridge Parkway, tough-to-climb mountain switchbacks and faster paced stretches of pavement that offer a little something for everyone.
Event riders are fully supported by sag wagons, rest and musette stops and emergency communications provided by amateur radio operators and fire department and rescue squad personnel that Lonon said just wouldn’t be possible without the support of the High Country community.
Lonon said this year’s race offered six rest stops based at strategic locations throughout the 100-mile route, sponsored by organizations or businesses such as SSSink, which provided riders with much-needed nourishment in the form of Gatorade, water, high-energy bars, fruits and candies, in addition to restroom facilities and help from support personnel.
Lonon said more than 60 volunteers had pledged support at the six rest stops and more than 75 volunteers were based at the civic center. Corporate support pushed that number close to 200 total volunteers, according to Lonon.
“Out of all the mountain rides I have done, I really enjoyed the Blue Ridge Brutal,” said rider Barbara Weber. “Bar none, the Brutal registration, directions, volunteers, the route and the community was a step above the rest of the rides.”
With comments like that, Lonon said she couldn’t help but smile.
“It’s always been a strong fundraiser for the civic center, but it’s also what I call a great ‘friendraiser,’” Lonon said. “The riders and their families come here, and not just for this weekend. They consistently come back and work and practice for next year’s ride. Our community, our volunteers, always put such a positive face on who we are; that it’s a real pleasure to introduce folks to Ashe County for the first time through the Brutal.”