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Assault On Mount Mitchell 2011

Updated on May 19, 2011

The 36th Assault On Mount Mitchell was held May 16, 2011. This is one of the oldest and most prestigious centuries ever.

This was my 31st "Assault On Mitchell". I missed the first five, but I've completed the "Assault" every year since, and including, 1981.

The "Assault" was started by a handful of Spartanburg Freewheelers in 1976. John Bryan and Bill Carlisle were the main "instigators" of the beginning, but several other people held a very visible role in the venture, including the "Hoffman boys", Scott and Brian.

There were only a few to seven riders attempting the first Assault. When I joined the "Assaulters" in 1981, there were less than 150 riders.

Mount Mitchell is the tallest mountain in Eastern America at 6,684 feet. The accumulated elevation gain from Spartanburg, SC to the summit of Mitchell is over 11,000 feet.

The Assault on Mount Mitchell grew to almost 2,000 riders at one time. The numbers seemed too many and difficult for the national park of the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Mount Mitchell State Park.

The numbers were reduced to 800 for safety and better traffic control. Personal aid and vehicles were banned. More buses were required. Growing pains were painful. John Bryan, one of the founders, was called in to become the director. John Bran saved the Assault on Mount Mitchell. John passed away last year of cancer. He is sorely missed.

Check out more on The Assaults® 2011!

The "Assault" is always a "family reunion".

My friend Dave helps me stay awake as we pass the "Gaffney Peach" water tower. I've known my buddy Dave longer than I've known "Mitchell", over 31 years.

This year there are over 1100 riders allowed to start.

The riders come from all over the globe.

There is an "Assault On Marion" that is the "qualifier" for the "Assault On Mitchell". The Assault On Marion is 75 miles.

The Assault takes us on beautiful rural roads all the way.

Most riders are as friendly but business-like on the job-at-hand.

My group catches up with my great friend, Bob Scofield. Bob is a former state champ of North Carolina and Florida. Bob has always been the ultimate climber.

We speak "matter-of-factly" about cycling. We know "our place" in the cycling world "food-chain". I'm adding Bob's recount of his worst rides below:

I’ve ridden the Assault eighteen times and have had three really bad rides.

1) 1991 when it rained and I got dropped a few miles before the hairpin descent. I had been training—I am not lying—375 miles a week, in the mountains. It was my third time out, I was only 45 years old, and believed I could actually win! I eschewed the Cross State to stay up here and train, and each week I would ride THREE centuries to the top, beginning in Celo and spinning down Buck Creek to Lake James and then up, and I mean in ANY kind of weather. Then I would “rest” and do 25 miles on my easy days.

I couldn’t see in the rain, I somehow came off and me and another guy tried to chase back on. It was pouring like hell and I was on this guy’s wheel and he looked pretty good, with shaved legs-he seemed to know what he was doing. So we come down, down, and it pouring rain like crazy. Suddenly, he slips off the road at the bottom of the hairpin and goes into the grass with me on his wheel! I do not remember what happened to him, but I was not really hurt at all, just banged up a bit and muddy, though one of my Pogliahi-engraved shift levers was bent and ruined, but the best part of this wreck is what DID NOT HAPPEN! If you’ve ever noticed, there is a really steep drop-off adjacent to the hair pin—I mean it falls off something like fifty feet, or maybe more, and there are big trees growing up out of the forest’s floor, so if you careened off the road and went over the side it is a long way to the bottom and the trees would bust you up pretty bad on the way down. Luckily, I did not go into the trees but just went, “splat” on the side of the road in the grass. I brushed myself off and kept riding. Later, on the Parkway, in the continuing rain, I started developing a knee tendinitis. Eventually, it became so bad I could no longer sit down because he knee felt like it was exploding with each pedal stroke. I finished that Mitchell standing for the last ten miles. It almost killed me.

2- The next bad Mitchell came only recently, in 2008, when it was incredibly hot, with temperatures pushing 100 in Spartanburg. I had a total collapse on Buck Creek, accompanied by severe knee issues and could hardly finish the ride. I struggled in the blistering heat, wobbling on my bike and almost didn’t make it to the top. You hear people say, “I almost died out there.” Well, I almost DID die. I kept thinking I was having a heart attack. When the ride was over I could not walk because my right knee would not support the weight of my body, so I hobbled to the bus, crawled aboard, and fell asleep. I was completely wasted and would say that one was the worst Mitchell, ever, and one of the worst experiences of my life.

3- The third worst Mitchell came just this past Monday and I think I have described it well, when I say it was like a collapse, fatigue, physical weakness, where you just basically collapse. So that’s it, the three worst Assaults. Will I be back in 2010? Probably. I do love the Assault, but I am going to have to figure out a better nutrition plan and maybe explore that Propel stuff you talk about, or something else that I can depend on to keep me going. See ya down the road. Bob

I descended ahead of Bob and he caught up on the flat stretch of highway 64, just before "Bill's Hill" - about 45 miles into the ride. I told Bob at the beginning of Bill's Hill that, "Here's where I fall off." Bob encouraged me with, "You'll be back on though." I didn't "get back on" though. Bob would finish in 6 hours and 19 minutes, about 40 minutes ahead of me. But that's the time Bob usually has on me in the mountains - or more.

It's interesting- the "power trains" a rider can have during rides. I naturally descend well and on some terrains can show "speed" - for a time.

Bob is especially strong on the hills and Bob can power on the flat roads as well.

Some of my "surges" are possibly "mental". If a rider "knows the course" that is being traveled, it can be a mental boost.

Just before exiting the Blue Ridge Parkway, near mile-marker 355, I informed a lady I had been following that "it" eases up right up here. She replied, "Oh please!" But what I said was true. A rider can, and I did, soon put my chain in the big ring - because - the grade lessens. I can see it. I can feel it. And I've felt it for decades.

An interesting note about the distance between "mile-marker 352" and "mile-marker 353" - this space is not just 1 mile but it's over 1 mile and 1 tenth of a mile. It's the longest mile between mile-marker "0" in Waynesboro, VA and mile-marker 377 in Asheville, NC.

After turning off the Blue Ridge Parkway, a rider will climb hard for 2 miles to the entrance of the Mount Mitchell State Park. After passing the ranger station and gate, the grade eases again. I informed another lady of the faster possibilities. I kicked it. When I burned up that easier piece of road and the grade worsened, she kicked it. She was a natural climber. I'm not. I told her to "Go on and knock it out dear." She said, "Thanks for the pull!" And - she was off.

But here we are at about 60 miles and Bob is off the front. The pack is working together very well. I have moments of difficulty and I have spots where I can pull and ride stronger.

My right shoulder has been smarting since 30 miles out. It feels like a mortise and pestle. It's a painful grinding.I shake my arm whenever the pace and safety allow. Shaking the arm gives relief.

Up ahead is our turn onto Old NC 10. Beyond the turn is the rest area where I began 2 "Assault" training rides. I made 2 videos that include still pictures and "descending videos". I added music and I think you will enjoy them.

04-25-11 Cycling From Marion, NC to Mount Mitchell

Recorded from the Marion rest area, the first ride and video of 4-25-2011 was a very wet ride. The length of this video is 12 minutes. It contains the descent from mile marker 350 toward Marion. Since this was still April, the canteen and gift shop were not open at the summit. May 1 is opening day for the facilities. The facilities are closed in November.

05-02-11 Climbing Mount Mitchell From Marion

This video, above, was recorded on May 2, 2011 - again from the Marion rest area. The length is 32 minutes. The "info" says the video is 38 minutes. I was stuck with 5 minutes of dead space that my Adobe program would not erase. Lord knows I tried.

You'll like this one too but get some popcorn.

Three miles from the Marion rest are where my "training rides" started, is Tom Johnson's Campground.

This is a rest area for the Mitchell Assault and it's the finish for the "Assault On Marion", the "Mitchell" qualifier.

Lake Tahoma - and I'm still with this main field.

But- we all split up right here at, or before, "Hayne's Eyebrow".

Not far from this point, mile 86 into the ride, I have to stop and I take a hydrocodone for the pain in my shoulder. The medication doesn't seem to help the shoulder until the finish.

The "Twin Tunnels" are the first beauty on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Just point a camera out there.

The beat goes on as well as the grade.

Off in the distance is Linville Gorge, Hawk's Bill, and Table Rock.

Mount Mitchell is in the distance, obscured by clouds.

The grade goes on!

Ladies seem more stoic than I.

I feel that these mountains have put many wrinkles on my face.

Oh my! I spot a familiar car and 2 friends!

Mark and Rike! I haven't seen them for years!

I have to stop and see these friends!

This is not a personal SAG, "help".

The "Assault On Mitchell" organization does not want personal vehicles on the course. There would be too many vehicles.

These guys were up for the day. They live in Asheville and it isn't uncommon to see an Ashevillian viewing the Assault.

I stop for a few moments and hugs.

Watch for "Rike, Mike, and Mister Blue Pants" on the hubpages - soon.

After an eon or two we set about on the last 5 miles on Hwy. 128.

This really hurts.

The shoulder and legs are screaming.

The legs are the loudest.

Right past this point, the grade eases.

Most people don't consider going faster.

Sometimes - I have not gone faster.

Today I go into the larger chain ring on the MUCH easier grade.

7 hours 50 seconds.

I knocked about an hour and 15 off last year's ride.

I've not hit 7 hours in years.

I am satisfied.

It's cold up top. We're given "thermal blankets for warmth. Our bikes are taken right away. The timing chips are taken right away. We are given memorable patches. Hot tomato soup is waiting for us.

The road to Mitchell has been a long one.

It begins with last year.

It contains riding rollers in the winter. It contains rides in rain and cold.

This road to Mitchell contains Wednesday rides where friends beat me up.

It contains Saturday and Sunday rides of the same thrashings.

This road to Mitchell contains "Cross Florida 2011", 170 miles in one day.

This road has been one of diet, nutrition, hard work - and - perhaps in this suffering, it is also some type of selfishness. It's a matter of perspective.

I created little for my fellow man.

The "ride" - any ride - can be a work of art.

In my mind - I created a "work of art". I do not mean that my pictures are "that" art. The "ride" itself is the "art".

I got the most out of my body. I had less difficulty than a lot of "Assaults".

To me - my time reflects "art" for my ability. I was a couple hours behind the first finishers. But - I got the most out of my abilities. I did the best I could and I was not subject to many calamities that have occurred in the past and may have occurred to others on this day.

I was able to focus. Often times when pain is overwhelming, the focus is lost. The mind centers on the pain. Even on this day I had to focus on the legs and I put the shoulder pain away as best I could. It could have been pain in the hip, middle back, neck, etc. Today it was the shoulder.

We all have "problems" preventing us from doing our best.

Sometimes we can overcome them to create an "art" that is very satisfactory.

This "art" keeps some of us alive and feeling value.

Let's just try to get the most out of these vessels that we can.

God bless!

~Micky Dee~

Assault On Mount Mitchell 2011 - A Virtual Tour

Please take some time and watch the video above.

The video is 16 minutes and loaded with fun, beauty, and music.

God bless the Spartanburg Freewheelers, the Assualt On Mitchell, the volunteers, and all who support cycling and higher ideals.

Happy trails,

~Micky Dee~

Micky Dee On Bill's Hill
Micky Dee On Bill's Hill


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    • Micky Dee profile imageAUTHOR

      Micky Dee 

      7 years ago

      God bless you dear DjBryle. Thank you for riding with me.

      Thank you baygirl! Come back for another ride!

    • baygirl33 profile image


      7 years ago from Hamilton On.


      What a hard ride.Be glad you're still alive!

      Loved the hub,loved the pics and videos, voted you awesome but I'm exhuasted just following you along that road.

      Be careful with that one life you have.

    • DjBryle profile image


      7 years ago from Somewhere in the LINES of your MIND, and HOPEFULLY at the RIPPLES of your HEART. =)

      Hey, Micky, thanks for never failing to share what you've been doing and some how I feel like I've been on the same adventure too! Two thumbs up for another great hub... I enjoyed being a "part" of the "assault"... I thought I would be reading some kind of violence here, but it turned out that it is a very refreshing and adventurous hub. Cheers!

    • Micky Dee profile imageAUTHOR

      Micky Dee 

      7 years ago

      Thank you all for your kind words. God bless you. I want each of you to know that I truly send these good thoughts back. God bless you.

    • zzron profile image


      7 years ago from Houston, TX.

      Awesome hub brother man! Love those bike pictures, awesome videos! You da man!

    • profile image

      Genna East 

      7 years ago

      Oh my, Micky; your words and photos take us there, and in some way share this extraordinary adventure. Now this is a ride! The photos of the country are just so beautiful. Kudos, Micky, on your quest, and I am so pleased to see how you enjoyed such a wonderful trip. Up and awesome. :-)

    • mckbirdbks profile image


      7 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Thanks for letting me tag along on this event. Everything looks amazing. That is quiet an accomplishment. And improving your time speaks very highly of your athletic prowess.

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 

      7 years ago from South Africa

      Micky, you make cycling look like art instead of sport, and your pictures are awesome. Take care!

    • acaetnna profile image


      7 years ago from Guildford

      Wow you are amazing - what a totally awesome ride! I felt you took me with you - those pictures are also fantastically awesome too!

    • blackreign2012 profile image


      7 years ago

      As usual I am rivited by not only your writing but your adventures :-) ~Hugs~ Climbing mountains not only on your bike but in elevation of life Love ya bunches!! ~mwah

    • suziecat7 profile image


      7 years ago from Asheville, NC

      I really enjoyed the read. Thanks for sharing this.

    • Micky Dee profile imageAUTHOR

      Micky Dee 

      7 years ago

      God bless you dear friends. Freya is the daughter, the beauty that graces my heart. Prasetio is the nephew that is always here, always diligent, always the relative. Rossimobis is the son I never had. and friends! Thank you friends. Thank you all.

    • BobbiRant profile image


      7 years ago from New York

      I can always count on you to give me a wild and wonderful ride. I love it. I hate to think about the bad shape I'm in, but you, well you look like you can climb mountains. Oh, yes you DO climb them, on your bike. Great reading for me.

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 

      7 years ago from Washington

      Lovely ride - thanks, Micky!

    • Rossimobis profile image

      Chibuzo Melvin Mobis 

      7 years ago from Nigeria

      Your hubs are educative that is is why i feel so bad each time i miss your pub at the very day it was aired,never knew about Mt Michell but glad i was here today.Learned alot Dad.

    • profile image

      Fay Paxton 

      7 years ago

      I always find these kinds of events fascinating and I am impressed by anyone who has the grit and stamina to get involved. You are right, it was a beautiful and scenic trail.

      Ride on, Micky!


    • CyclingFitness profile image

      Liam Hallam 

      7 years ago from Nottingham UK

      Fantastic hub Micky. The photographs really give it great personality and show the suffering involved.

    • prasetio30 profile image


      7 years ago from malang-indonesia

      Thanks, my uncle for this beautiful report. I always enjoy all the pictures here. You still the best 1100 riders. I really enjoy reading this hub. God bless you!

      Your nephew, prasetio

    • Freya Cesare profile image

      Freya Cesare 

      7 years ago from Borneo Island, Indonesia

      Wow! 7 hours and 50 second? @,@ I wish I have half of your determination and power to finished this assault.

    • Micky Dee profile imageAUTHOR

      Micky Dee 

      7 years ago

      Thank you all so much for your warm comments! God bless you all.

      Dear Ruby- I didn't crash on this one - though I have crashed several times -and- I broke a clavicle on one crash. But "Bob" was recounted his "worst" Assaults. No crash for either on this one.

      YO YO YO Don!!! You are such a delightful "bus riding companion"! You made the trip down more pleasant! Thank you. I have your pic on the video. Thank you so much brother man!

    • profile image

      Don Savage 

      7 years ago

      Nice to meet you Micky. I sat on the bus with you on the ride down from the summit. Gratz on the great finish for you. I hope I can accomplish just a little of what you do when I hit my 60's.

    • drpastorcarlotta profile image

      Pastor Dr. Carlotta Boles 

      7 years ago from BREAKOUT MINISTRIES, INC. KC

      YOU ARE AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Vote-Up! and Awesome!!!

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      7 years ago from south Florida

      What a great trip with awesome photos, Micky, thank you for sharing this unbelievable experience with the rest of us. Wonder why I feel so tired now.

    • profile image

      Barefoot Wahine 

      7 years ago

      To have suffered is to have lived. By the gods, you have done it again, you are a god onto yourself and an example onto others to set a goal and strive to reach it, then to accomplish it. It matters not the time, what matters is the getting there, that finish line that is crossed, even if it is last, if it was our best then, by golly it was worth it all and we can smile that we did what we did and the goal was complete to our best doing. God bless you my dear for another year of blessings and a wish of great doing moving toward another ride. I Love you Michael, hope to see your next ride. :D Hugs :D

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Brother Micky, Wow! 31 Assaults in a row! I cannot imagine finishing 31 when one about did me in! Great hub! Love the video! Music really captured the tone of the ride. You are the man! Congratulations on your accomplishment!

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      7 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Mickey, Even with all the achy muscles you made it! It sounds like this was better than last year. I can't imaging having enough stamina to make that mountain. All I can say is CONGRATULATIONS MICKEY - GREAT JOB!!!!

    • A.A. Zavala profile image

      Augustine A Zavala 

      7 years ago from Texas

      Mickey, your a true Iron Man. More power to you!

    • Dim Flaxenwick profile image

      Dim Flaxenwick 

      7 years ago from Great Britain

      Great experience , and wonderful pics again, Micky. l love your 1st comment from Petra (like, oh no where are we at war now?),.

      You do well to keep up with mammoth rides.

      God Bless.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      7 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Yea Micky, Looks like a great ride. I know you had fun. I went for a spin too..It's so good to get outside. I'm sooo glad winter is over. Glad you didn't get hurt with the fall. Take care


    • profile image

      Sunnie Day 

      7 years ago

      Oh Wow Mickey! You are truly amazing and a great athlete. I am tired after reading this hub..I love the thought of cycling and had bought a bike a few years back but where I live is crazy...the traffic and crazy people not ever watching for bikes. I am sure that is an excuse as I could find somewhere to ride..but I think you are amazing in what you do..Thanks for sharing.


      PS Have you heard from Dusty? Been thinking about him.

    • Micky Dee profile imageAUTHOR

      Micky Dee 

      7 years ago

      Thank you dear friends! Petra and Poohgranma - I love you girls. God bless Mental Acer, Tom, agusfanani, and God bless that Vietnamvet68- brother Vet!

      You bet SomewayOuttaHere! I guess we even love the pain. God bless!

    • SomewayOuttaHere profile image


      7 years ago from TheGreatGigInTheSky dude...that was exciting...11,000 feet? amaze me!...i like bob's recount of his worst rides...oh my! are having the time of yor life when you are on a ride aren't you?...maybe not the assault...but just riding....thanks for sharing...

    • vietnamvet68 profile image


      7 years ago from New York State

      A Beautiful ride brother man and lovely pictures, you keep showing that mountain who's boss. Keep on Bikin

      God Bless Micky

    • agusfanani profile image


      7 years ago from Indonesia

      It's a great cycling experience you told me in this hub including about your admirable stamina and fighting spirit. Thank you, I like this hub very much.

    • Tom Rubenoff profile image

      Tom rubenoff 

      7 years ago from United States

      Humbling stuff. Amazingly written and illustrated, and about an amazing ride.

    • Poohgranma profile image


      7 years ago from On the edge

      "We all have "problems" preventing us from doing our best.

      Sometimes we can overcome them to create an "art" that is very satisfactory.

      This "art" keeps some of us alive and feeling value.

      Let's just try to get the most out of these vessels that we can."

      You have certainly found a way to push past yours. While I admire your tenacity on many levels, I can not imagine ever trying it myself ... or truthfully wanting to. But everyone has there own mountain to climb and I am extremely proud of you and the path you have chosen for yourself!

    • Mentalist acer profile image

      Mentalist acer 

      7 years ago from A Voice in your Mind!

      Thanks for taking us along on your blessed adventure Micky.;)

    • Petra Vlah profile image

      Petra Vlah 

      7 years ago from Los Angeles

      Go Micky, go! I am glad you were not hurt (just wet and muddy). When I saw the title, I had no idea it was about cycling, I thought was some kind of violent nonsense in some other part of the world we have no business in


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