“Hell of the High Country” Bike Race Set to Challenge Cyclists
story and video by Eric Crews

Cycling in the High Country of North Carolina is known for its challenging climbs, screaming fast descents, and scenic vistas of the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains. But if Andrew Stackhouse, creator of the Boone-Roubaix, gets his way, the area’s scenic gravel roads and their steep grueling climbs will soon be added to that ever growing list of reasons to ride in the High Country. Stackhouse, owner of Pirate Race Productions, has partnered with the local non-profit “Wine to Water” to present Boone’s latest cycling challenge, the Boone-Roubaix (Roo-bay), alternately known as, The Hell of the High Country. The ride takes willing participants on a tour of some of the High Country’s steepest and most challenging climbs with the large majority of those climbs taking place on gravel roads where the cyclists will have to battle poor traction, difficult road conditions and the constant threat of flat tires in order to succeed.

The event consists of three separate divisions and the longest race, the Gran Parcours, will cover 69 miles of roads, 6 of which take place on some of the area’s most scenic gravel roads. “We modeled the Boone-Robaix after the Paris-Roubaix, which is known as The Hell of the North,” event organizer Andrew Stackhouse said in a recent interview with the Mountain Times. “It’s unique and difficult, but a fun challenge for cyclists.” It will be a challenge that many cyclists from other areas who are not accustomed to riding in the High Country will experience for the first time. The course follows a well-known series of country roads that a devoted group of area cyclists have been enjoying for years. By taking their high-performance road bikes off the beaten path and onto, as they call it, the Western Carolina Pave`, these High Country cyclists have created an almost legendary mystique surrounding these roads.

“The mixed terrain aspect makes this ride really unique,” John Fennel, an employee at Magic Cycles Bike Shop in Boone, said recently. “With the winter we’ve had, road conditions could be anywhere from packed almost-as-good-as-concrete to soupy mud – conditions most road racers aren’t accustomed to.”

“Roby Greene, Flannery Fork, and some of these others roads are just classic,” Josheph Grimes, an employee at Boone Bike & Touring said. “You’re more likely to see a farmer driving a tractor than you are a car, there’s livestock feeding on the side of the road, sometimes there are chickens halfway in the road. That type of stuff is definitely not something that folks from off the mountain have any idea about.”

To learn more about the event and how you can register for the 1st ever “Hell of the High Country,” visit www.pirateraceproductions.com

to view the video visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ucZmNHv4XMM