SPARTANBURG (WSPA) – Hundreds of cyclists from around the world took off from downtown Spartanburg early Monday morning for the 2017 Assaults on Mount Mitchell and Marion.
About 850 riders left from the starting line in front of Spartanburg Memorial Auditorium at 6:30 am in the 42nd year of the event.
The Assault on Mt. Mitchell takes riders on a 102.7 mile trip from Spartanburg to the top of Mount Mitchell in western North Carolina. That ride features a total vertical ascent of more than 10,000 feet. The top of Mount Mitchell is the highest point in the eastern United States.
Riders are also competing in The Assault on Mt. Marion that takes riders on the same course, but ends that event ends after 74.2 miles at Tom Johnson Rally Park Pavilion in Marion, North Carolina.
It’s the 42nd year of the event. About 850 cyclists will take off from the Spartanburg Memorial Auditorium and ride to the peak of Mount Mitchell in North Carolina.
Three NASCAR drivers are participating in this year’s event. Jimmie Johnson is back to ride for the second time and was joined Monday by fellow drivers Jamie McMurray and Matt Kenseth.
“It’s funny, when I was climbing this mountain last year, I swore I’d never be back<” said Johnson minutes before the race began. “Then a day or two after I said I need to try again and her I am. I’m very fortunate it’s on a Monday so it gives us this opportunity.”
Also in the field again is well-known cyclist George Hincapie from Greenville. Hincapie is know for competing in the past in the Tour de France and the Olympics.
“When I was racing I was always missing this race because i was off in Europe somewhere<” said Hincapie, “so it’s nice to be able to come here and support this great event.”
Organizers say the Assaults on Mt. Mitchell and Marion are one of the most challenging sports endeavors in the region.
Some proceeds from this year’s event will benefit HUB Cycle. The organization increases access to bicycles for those who use them as a primary means of transportation in Spartanburg.