Okay, so I’m not a seasoned Assault vet, but I managed to achieve success in my first attempt at Assault on Mt. Mitchell, and here’s a few ideas that I believe contributed to my triumph and can hopefully be helpful to you, as well. Good luck to all the riders this year and have a safe, fun, and successful trip up!
10. Set up your bike and equipment early on Sunday. Check your bike over thoroughly, ensure everything is situated from the transport to Spartanburg. Lay out your kit, gloves, helmet, any nutrition/energy you plan to carry and anything else that will be on you or the bike. It’s much easier to rest knowing you won’t worry about forgetting something first thing in the morning.
9. Get proper rest. It’s a long day that starts early and ends late by the time you complete the century ride to the top, then wait to be transported back down the mountain and by the time you retrieve your bike and return to Spartanburg, you will need all the rest you can get.
8. Eat properly before and during the event. It’s very important to eat healthy before the ride and avoid junk food. Your performance will be a genuine reflection of how well you properly fuel up before the ride. It’s also very important to ensure you replenish the calories you are burning along the way, especially since your hardest effort will be the last 25 miles. It is very hard to compensate for bonking during this section of the ride.
7. Thank the volunteers early and often. This event takes a lot of planning and logistics to provide us, the riders an awesome experience and wonderful challenge. The support of the volunteers is great, so please tell them thank you, when you can.
6. Be mentally tough! By this time, you cannot do much, if anything to improve your physical preparedness, but it is very important to focus your mind on the task at hand. Some say this event is more mentally than physically challenging, set your mind to stop nowhere short of the top and it shall take you there.
5. Have a goal and push hard to achieve it. Whether you’re goal is to simply make it to the top, or make it in less than 5 hours, stay focused and push yourself to accomplish the goal you set.
4. Ride within yourself. The ride has a mass start for both Marion and Mt. Mitchell riders, so it’s easy to find a pack or group that fits your pace and ride with them, taking turns pulling and drafting to save energy. However, don’t get caught up trying to ride with or pull a group that is faster than you, it will only hurt you later in the day and remember that everyone climbs at their own pace. Don’t attempt to go too hard too early, or you may find yourself walking or worse, getting picked up.
3. Be very cautious at the start of this ride! The first 5-10 miles is total chaos. You will see dropped chains, flat tires, crashes, loose water bottles in the road, and you will get tired of hearing “slowing.” But it is very important to be very alert and communicate to others riding around you during this start segment. Also, there will be traffic, as it is Monday and some folks are on their way to work. The first ten miles won’t make you’re day, but it can break it.
2. Have fun and be safe. This may sound redundant, but safety is paramount, not only in the start, but throughout. There will be some traffic on the climb as well. Remember to keep a positive attitude if you have to deal with a mechanical issue or personal issue such as cramping, tired-ness, bonking, etc. and if you don’t mind, it won’t matter. Keep moving forward, it’s the only way to the top.
1. Masher’s #1 tip has to be respect the mountain. This is a lesson I’ve learned more than once, the hard way. Most recently, on a training ride up Clingmans Dome in Tennessee with a few friends. If you ignore any one of the previous nine tips, you can still over-compensate another area and be effective, however, if you choose to not respect the mountain, it will be a mistake. Be prepared for anything once the climbing begins! The weather difference from Marion to the top of Mitchell can potentially be daylight and dark in contrast. Don’t take the mountain for granted and don’t underestimate the challenge it will present for you.
I hope some of you can find these tips useful to help you focus and achieve success at the Assault on Mt. Mitchell. Obviously, the main points are stay focused, stay positive, stay on your bike moving forward, and believe you will see the summit. When you do reach the top, be proud of your success, it is one of the toughest rides in the eastern and southeastern United States, not too many cyclists will ever even try it! Tweet us a picture of you at the top of Mt. Mitchell and tag @RAMCycling with #AOMMSummit and we’ll retweet it! Good luck, have fun, be safe, and enjoy the view at the top!