Join us for the annual Tour de Cashiers Mountain Cycling Experience across scenic mountain byways of western North Carolina.
This popular pedaling event attracts participants from the southeast, many returning every year for the traditional ride, and bragging rights for completing one of the most challenging rides in the nation.
Cycling Events: 25 miler, 62 miler, 100 miler
Running Event: 5K
Where: Cashiers, NC
When: Saturday, September 15th, 2018
The Tour de Cashiers has a rich heritage. Nearly 25 years ago organizer Clark Moore gathered a small group of enthusiasts in front of the Cashiers Area Chamber of Commerce and set off on an 11-mile route across the area’s scenic mountain byways. This annual ride has grown through the years to include multiple routes up to 100 miles and more than 300 riders from across the region under the direction of various community groups and volunteer organizers.
The mountainous route features stunning scenery and challenging ascents with total elevation gains of up to 10,500 feet for the century and 7,000 feet for the metric century. The Century 100-mile and the Metric 62-mile rides include long climbs and fast descents. The Quarter Century 25-mile route is a great introduction to cycling along the Blue Ridge. All three routes provide challenge and inspiration for those wanting to test their conditioning on an all-day supported ride.
This annual tradition takes place with great support of community volunteers including local emergency fire departments, rescue squads and other law enforcement agencies.
Cyclists follow one of three routes of 25, 62 or 100 miles across Jackson, Macon and Transylvania County roads riding steep climbs and fast descents.
- All cyclists and runners will receive a short-sleeved race t-shirt at registration.
- Every participant has use of the bathrooms and showers at the Cashiers / Glenville Recreation Center after their event.
Note: There are no refunds, deferrals, or transfers allowed for any event.
We’ve also added a 5k for the runners at the Tour de Cashiers. Come join the fun! We should have the out-and-back route finalized soon but we are planning to run from the Cashiers Recreation Center to the Summit Charter School and back. All runners will receive a short-sleeved race t-shirt.
1/4 Century (25 miler)
This ride starts with three nice 250-350’ climbs, and similar descents, in the first 10 miles, followed by several flat miles along the northern shore of Lake Glenville. After that, a two-stage 500’ climb takes the riders to the flanks of Yellow Mountain, followed by a fast descent and several miles of rolling rural roads bordered by woods and pastures. The ride finishes on Highway 64, with three miles of smooth asphalt and a swooping 400’ descent back to Cashiers and the Village Green.
Total elevation gain is ~2500 feet.
Metric Century (62 miler)
Our Metric Century was a new event in 2006, and replaces the old 50 and 75-mile events. The route includes a loop that local riders call the “Ring of Fire,” in recognition of its two long blistering descents and two long thigh-burning climbs. If you’re ready for some serious mountain miles, but don’t quite have the time or legs for the Full Century, this would be a great ride to take on.
Like all the Tour de Cashiers rides, the Metric Century initially tours the Plateau top. It follows the route of the 25-mile event over the three early 250-350’ climbs, and around the northern shore of Lake Glenville, but turns up Pine Creek valley for a moderate 400’ climb to the 4,000’ crest of the Cowee Ridge. Then the serious fun begins. First, it’s one of the area’s finest descents — 1,900’ down Walnut Creek Rd. into the valley of the Cullasaja River. The pavement is fresh and smooth, and while there’s one sharp hairpin and a number of other curves that demand caution, the twists generally are not as intense as those on the Cullowhee Mountain descent that was part of the old 75-mile route. Once down the mountain, you’ll probably want to join a paceline for about 12 miles of level riding through agricultural valleys along the Cullasaja River and Ellijay Creek. But you then hit the first major climb, about 1,400’ back up to the crest of the Cowee Ridge. After a well-earned rest stop, the route continues with a fast 1,500’ descent on good road – but watch for the four hairpins towards the top.
Riders will then cover about 7 miles of flat/rolling roads in valleys near the college town of Cullowhee, followed by the second major climb – back up onto the Plateau on Cullowhee Mountain Rd. Console yourself with the knowledge that while this is a tough 1,750’ climb, it’s not quite as bad as Walnut Creek, which the Full Century riders must climb, but which you got to go down. Once on top, a sweet 2-mile descent and a bit of valley riding take you to N. Norton Rd., where the Metric and Full century routes join. The principal remaining challenge is a two-part 500’ climb. After that, it’s a few miles of easy riding along the flanks of Yellow Mountain, and another 400’ descent. Two rolling miles through the Norton community takes you to Highway 64 west of Cashiers, for a fast downhill on smooth asphalt back to the Crossroads. As you settle in for lunch, you will have completed a bit over 62 miles.
Total elevation gain is + 7,000 feet.
Century (100 miler)
We are using the same Tour de Cashiers Full Century route as in the past seven years, with improvements first used in 2011. Our route has received great reviews from the riders, and you have our assurances that it is a tough course that will challenge even seasoned distance riders.
The Full Century route departs from the Metric Century and 25-miler at the very beginning, so you’ll have to commit to your length at the start. We will roll east out of town through Sapphire Valley and the Lake Toxaway area for about 30 miles of hilly forest and rural terrain in the valleys of the Horsepasture, Toxaway and (after crossing the Eastern Continental Divide) French Broad Rivers. Some stretches will be as nice as any roads you’ll ever find, unless you’re looking for a big climb or roaring descent – and those come later. Riders pass through the small town of Balsam Grove, and then head across the mountain towards Tuckaseegee, NC, on a new route that follows an agricultural valley up towards the crest of Tanasee Ridge. After crossing Ridge, and enjoying a good descent, riders pass by two high-elevation lakes, with views of the gorges in this part of the Tuckaseegee headwaters. After several climbs and descents in forested mountains, riders eventually have a long descent into the tiny town of Tuckaseegee. You should then get about 7 miles of fairly level valley riding before a steep 1,500’ climb over the crest of the Cowee Ridge (at this point, the Full Century riders are on the same course as the Metric, but going in the opposite direction). Then, it’s down an equal amount into the Cullasaja River valley near Franklin.
After about 12 miles of relatively flat valley riding, some of it along the river, the Full Century riders must take on the Walnut Creek climb, considered by many to be the toughest in the area. It’s a 1,900’ ascent, compressed into less than 6 miles, with half of the climbing in the last two miles and only one brief break from constant pedaling. Once you get to the top, there’s a nice 400’ descent. The Full and Metric Century routes then join for a two-part 500’ climb, a few miles of easy riding along the flanks of Yellow Mountain, and another 400’ descent. A few rolling miles through the Norton community takes you to Highway 64 west of Cashiers, for three miles on smooth asphalt and a fast downhill back to the Crossroads. Hope you get there by the 5:30 cutoff for dinner at the Village Green. Having made it through 10,500’ feet of climbing and just over 100 miles, you’ll be ready.
Note – This is a difficult route, and not a good choice for your first full century. If you aren’t an experienced mountain distance rider, the Metric Century is probably a better choice. For the sake of both riders and our hard-working volunteers, riders who aren’t on track to finish by 5:30 will be asked to sag in.
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