Transylvania County is a road cyclist’s delight: hundreds of miles of well-paved roads, generally light traffic, and a variety of topography to test every kind of rider. No wonder professional cyclists like George Hincapie are often spotted out on training rides. While there are literally hundreds of routes from which to choose, here are three that are popular with local cyclists. The Adventurist rides thousands of miles in Transylvania County annually and can vouch for the fact that any one of these rides makes a great introduction to the county. If the challenging climbs don’t take your breath away, the stunning scenery certainly will.
Virtually every Saturday morning of the year, local road cyclists gather at the Comporium parking lot on East Main St. in downtown Brevard for a convivial ride along some of Transylvania County’s most picturesque roads. The pace on this 27.5 mile double loop varies, depending on who shows up and how frisky everyone feels, but it’s always a no-drop ride. There are plenty of variations on the route, but this version offers a little bit of everything: rollers, valley flats and one tester of a climb, the locally legendary Walnut Hollow. The start time varies throughout the year, so check Sycamore Cycles first. Whether you ride alone or with the Saturday group, please be advised that no Spin n’ Grin ride is official unless you make a post-ride stop for coffee and pastries at Bracken Mountain Bakery.
If you have a need for speed, saddle up and cinch your helmet tight. Things start out mildly enough with a valley ride to the short but tough Walnut Hollow climb. You’ll be lulled into further complacency by a stints on East Fork and the wonderfully bucolic Glady Fork. But once you turn onto Sassafras Road and point your bike downhill, be ready: the next 3 miles is a screaming descent to the appropriately named Rocky Bottom. While the curves are not especially challenging for an experienced cyclist, the extreme gradient makes even the smallest miscalculation a hair raising event. It’s possible, without even trying, to hit speeds of up to 60 miles per hour. Approach this section with appropriate caution. Once at the bottom, you have time to collect your wits with a nice, long moderate climb up the Blue Ridge Escarpment on US-178, topping out at the Eastern Continental Divide. From there it’s an easy spin back to Brevard.
The Assault on the Carolinas is Transylvania County’s premier road cycling event, held every April. The 100k course (65.4 miles) is quite a challenge and makes for a heavy duty training ride: departing Brevard, you first tackle Walnut Hollow, then another long climb up US-178 before an exhilarating descent into South Carolina. The Palmetto State portion of the course consists of a long series of rollers before turning north to face the most daunting climb of the day: Caesar’s Head. Your reward after this 8+ mile pitch is a long, steady descent back into Brevard on US-276, including a thrilling 1-mile series of esses just before you reach town.