Remember those last days of summer vacation when you were a kid? When you felt the urgency and tried to cram as much fun into the last week or two before you had to trudge back to the confines of the classroom and listen to old Mrs. Hardigan talk about fractions and Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally? Yeah, me too. I also remember spending those last days of vacation on a bike riding around with my friends. I wouldn’t call this aimless riding because there was a point to it. The point was to get outside and taste that last bit of freedom, feel it blow through our hair, shout it at the top of lungs, and possibly get a icee-pop from the corner store. Yes, those were the days and it can be hard to recapture that type of wild abandon in adulthood; unless, of course, you participate in the Blue Ridge Breakaway this Saturday.

In it’s fourth year, the Blue Ridge Breakaway offers four road rides of varying distances that all begin and end at the Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center. Each ride has it’s own merits: there is a century (The Hawk – 105 miles with 32 miles along the Blue Ridge Parkway), a metric century (The Trout – 62.1 miles with over 5,800 feet of climbing and a downhill finish), a 40-mile ride (The Panther – 40 miles – duh – with 2,600 feet of elevation gain), and the Rabbit, a family friendly 24-mile ride with a moderate 1,200 feet of elevation gain. Each ride features views of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Pisgah National Forest, and are fully supported with rest stops and SAG vehicles.

And that’s not all! Leading the rides will be pro cyclist and Olympic silver medalist Lauren Tamayo. Tamayo won silver in track cycling at the 2012 London Games, lives in Asheville, and will be on hand before and after the race to chat cycling with the estimated 550-600 riders expected to participate.

You can register on Friday evening or on race day. If you are not interested in riding, this will still be a fun event, especially with an Olympian in the mix. So, as Freddie Mercury used to say, “Get on your bikes and ride!”


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