2016 Off Road Assualt on Mt. Mitchell Race Report

Race Report: Blue Ridge Adventures – Off-Road Assault on Mt Mitchell

The 2016 Off-Road Assault on Mt Mitchell (ORAMM) started off in downtown Old Fort, NC, for its 17th consecutive year, on Sunday, July 31, 2016. ORAMM was one of the earliest endurance mountain bike events in western North Carolina and has gained a reputation across the country for its challenging course, beautiful scenery and great support. For 2016, ORAMM saw riders from 26 different states, and as far away as Phoenix, AZ.


Due to construction on Old Hwy 70, there was a slight re-route this year that added an additional 2 miles onto an already long course. That still didn’t stop the top riders from setting a blistering pace of over 13 mph across 62 miles and over 10,000 feet of climbing.

The Blue Ridge Parkway, Kitsuma, Heartbreak Ridge and Curtis Creek are all names that come up over and over again when talking to ORAMM racers. With beautiful views, rooty and rocky descents and climbs, long singletrack downhills and gravel road climbs that will make even the toughest of riders quiver, ORAMM has it all, leaving lots of smiles and grimaces on the faces of riders new and old.

A nice size lead group of about 12-15 riders stuck together for over half of the race. As they made the long climb up Curtis Creek to the Blue Ridge Parkway, things started to break apart. This is where racers have to decide to stay with the leaders or save some for the last third portion of the course. When all was said and done the top 3 finishers came in less than 10 minutes of each other and the top 6 broke the 5 hour mark.

For the Open Men category, current course record holder, Thomas Turner, took the win with a time of 4hrs 34min. Tristan Cowie followed for 2nd place in 4hrs 37min and Matt Champion rounded out the top 3 in 4hrs 43min. The Open Women category saw impressive performances as well, with Jen Nielson coming in first at 6hrs 21min. Jordan Salman and Erin Setzer took 2nd and 3rd place, with times of 6hrs 39min and 6hrs 45min, respectively.


There are number of racers that choose to do a double-header, with the 26 mile Jerdon Mountain Challenge on Saturday and ORAMM on Sunday. Among these was Junior racer, Chad Hale, from Tallahassee, FL. This 17 year old racer took 5th overall in the Jerdon Mountain Challenge and almost broke the 6hr mark, with an impressive time of 6hrs 5min. With weekends like this, we’re sure we’ll be seeing his name pop up more and more. In addition to Hale, Andrew Blackstock and Noah Pawlik were 2 other Juniors racing ORAMM. Both at 15 years old, they endured with solid times and more importantly, finished the race.

 For complete results, visit: http://www.blueridgeadventures.net/2016-oramm-results/

It was another great day in Old Fort and smiles could be found all around the finish line area. Lots of stories shared and a feeling of accomplishment for everyone who trained, traveled and experienced one of the best mountain bike events in the country. While the podium often gets much of the attention, for hundreds of other riders, ORAMM is about setting a goal and pushing yourself, not necessarily to win, but to just have a good ride. For some, ORAMM is a race. For most, it’s a mountain bike adventure and one that brings riders back year after year.

-Written by Seyl Park

2016 Jerdon Mountain Challenge Report

Race Report: Blue Ridge Adventures – Jerdon Mountain Challenge

240 riders, from 13 different states, put their wheel to the starting line of the 2016 Jerdon Mountain Challenge. What was once considered the ‘little sibling’ to the infamous Off-Road Assault on Mt Mitchell (ORAMM), which happens the following day and is over twice as long, Jerdon Mountain Challenge has become a race all in its own.

Located in the small mountain town of Old Fort, NC, Jerdon takes on many of the same trails as ORAMM, such as Kitsuma and Heartbreak Ridge, but with a more user-friendly distance. This is part of the reason the race has become so popular with a wide range of riders. This year, Jerdon saw a 30% increase in riders over 2015. What makes this number so exciting is the people who make up the 30%. Women saw a 36% increase and 8 junior riders, ranging from 10-17 years old, started and finished the 26 mile route. “This is exactly what Blue Ridge Adventures is all about”, says race director Todd Branham. “Offering challenging, high quality events for seasoned racers, while creating a friendly environment for young and/or less experienced riders”.

The mass start left downtown Old Fort with a police escort leading riders to Curtis Creek, which allowed riders to spread out a bit before making the first climb up to Salt Gap. The route traverses to Star Gap, where riders make the ascent and descent down Heartbreak Ridge. The climb afterwards up Kitsuma is steep and technical, but offers a long descent down the backside, leading to the final miles back to the finish.

 The overall winner, Ben Renkema, from Greenville, SC, finished in 1hr 55min at a brisk 13.5 mph pace. Michael Mathers and Seth Cooley rounded out the top 3. 17 year old, Chad Hale from Tallahassee, FL, had an impressive 5th overall finish, with a time of 2hrs 18min. Bonnie Kleffman took the Open Women win, with a time of 2hrs 33min. Following in 2nd and 3rd place were Leah Nicholson and Duffy Danish, respectively. Another Junior rider made the top 5. Hannah Dickson, from Brevard, NC, came in at 3hrs and 3min, taking the 5th place Open Women spot.

For complete results, visit: http://www.blueridgeadventures.net/2016-jerdon-mountain-challenge-results/

 With temperatures approaching the mid-nineties, it was a hot and dry day of racing. Post-race, riders could be found cooling off in the cold creek that runs right through the finish area and enjoying a well-deserved meal and beverage. While most riders head home and recover in the comfort of their own home, a few hearty souls do a double-header, Jerdon Mountain Challenge on Saturday and ORAMM on Sunday. One of these happens to be Junior rider, Chad Hale. We’ll be keeping our eye on him and cheering him on. Here’s to the next generation of mountain bikers!

-Written by Seyl Park

Swank 65k, Brevard, NC

The 2015 Swank 65k kicked off amidst cloudy skies and occasional showers on Sunday, making for a wet and treacherous edition of the Pisgah classic. As third place finisher Nick Bragg (Piney Flats Cycles) put it, “The Swank lived up to it’s reputation as a soul crusher of a race. The rainy conditions meant slick roots with leaves covering all the trails. Loose!”

In the men’s race, it was Ben Renkema who lit up on the first climb of the day up the Daniels Ridge trail, leaving the rest of the field to suffer behind. However, Matt Champion (Sycamore Cycles) made a move on the Daniels descent, and began to bridge back up to the leader. Behind, Scott Hoffner and Bragg were battling it out early for the third spot.

Matt Champion on his way to the win. Photo Courtesy of: Blue Ridge Adventures

Matt Champion on his way to the win. Photo courtesy of: Blue Ridge Adventures

As the race approached it’s crux, the climb up to Farlow Gap and the famed, harrowing, descent back down, Champion had finally made contact with Renkema. “I didn’t catch him until we were halfway through Butter [Gap trail],” Champion said later.We rode together until we started the gravel climb up to Farlow. From that point on I started to pull away on the climb and didn’t see Ben again until he finished. Farlow was insane with all the leaves and wet conditions. I wasn’t expecting the race to be fast, but somehow it was faster than Dave’s time from last year. It was a lot of fun and most of the rain held off until the first few riders finished.”

Renkema would hang on to finish 2nd behind Champion, while Bragg made a move behind to ride himself from 5th at the top of Farlow to 3rd by the bottom. “Descending down Pisgah’s most techy trail, Farlow, was nothing more than one long graceful trip, slip, and fall,” Bragg said. But his effort was good enough to land him on the 3rd and final spot on the podium.


Megan Hutton on her way to a win in the women's race. Photo courtesy of: Blue Ridge Adventures

Megan Hutton on her way to a win in the women’s race. Photo courtesy of: Blue Ridge Adventures

The women’s race was an open and competitive affair, with defending champ Nina Otter (Liberty Bikes) not in attendance. Stepping up with a big ride this year was Brevard local Megan Hutton, who was able to cruise home to the finish in Cove Creek and take the win by nearly 9 minutes. Rolling through in second was Angela Paterna, with Jessica Burger is 3rd. Last year’s runner up, Emily Watts, had to settle for 4th.

Full Results:

Open Women’s Results

Open Men’s Results


Off Road Assault on Mt. Mitchell 2015

This weekend saw the 16th edition of the Off Road Assault on Mt. Mitchell, one of the premier endurance races in the southeast. The course remained unchanged from last year, and again sent riders out for close 60 miles—a loop that includes classic trails like Heartbreak Ridge and Kitsuma. Of course, there was a cold creek and plenty of beer from Oscar Blues waiting for racers at the finish, something which no doubt motivated more than a few racers as the day wore on.

Without multi-time defending champion, and 2015 Pisgah Stage Race winner, Thomas Turner, the race promised to be an open affair, but there was no shortage of fast men from around the southeast ready to lay down some watts in a bid to take home the coveted ORAMM crown. With trail conditions looking good, and reasonably low temperatures predicted throughout the day, it was clear fast times were going to be in order.

After a fast first lap on the Kitsuma Ridge Trail, a large group of around 10 riders rolled through the first aid station together. With no clear favorite in the race, riders were marking every move, and the large group stayed together, for the most part, to aid station 2. It was there, on the notoriously brutal climb up Curtis Creek that the race finally broke apart. Brian Schworm (Think Green/Pedal the Planet) and Brad Perley (Brevard College) bridged up to Adam Engell (Specialized/Kitsuma Works) and the three riders established a gap on the chasers. The three riders entered the days biggest descent down Heartbreak Ridge more or less together, but disaster quickly struck for Schworm and Perley, both of whom flatted in the trail’s upper rock gardens. That allowed Engell to ride free, and he cruised to the win in a brisk 4:31:34. Schworm would drop back as far as 9th while fixing his flat, but he was able to surge back to 2nd by the finish. Perley wasn’t so lucky. A huge tear in his tire meant he had to run the entirety of Heartbreak to the final aid station, where he was finally able to fix his bike and finish. With Perley running, Chris Tries (Piney Flats Cycles) was able to work his way into third on the line to take the final spot on the podium.

Also of note were the rides by masters riders Bob McCarty (Stradalli Bikes) and Tommy Rodgers (J.A. King Cycles) who both rode very strong races to finish 3rd and 6th respectively overall.

Men's Podium

Men’s Podium

The women’s race looked for a much of the race like a replay of the Jerdon Mountain Challenge the day before, with Nina Otter (Liberty Bikes) out front by just over two minutes, with Jennifer Moos (Pink Siren Sports) chasing hard. However, Otter missed a critical turn of the Blue Ridge Parkway onto the Heartbreak Ridge Trail, a continued to climb for close to 5 minutes before deciding that she must have missed the trail, which allowed Moos to ride into the lead. By the time Otter realized she was in second at Aid 4, it was too late. Though she chased hard and closed the gap significantly in the final miles of the day, she ultimately came up a minute and a half short of the win – with Moos taking her second victory in as many years. Zdenka Worsham (Constellation Cycling) also rode a strong race and crossed the line in third to take the final spot on the podium.

Women's Podium

Women’s Podium

Women’s Open:

Position Bib # Name Start Finish Total Division Gender City State Team Name
1 304 JENNIFER MOOS 8:00:19 13:43:59.143 05:43:40.457 Open Women F FORT LAUDERDALE FL Pink Siren Sports
2 326 NINA OTTER 8:00:19 13:45:30.099 05:45:11.413 Open Women F ASHEVILLE NC Industry Nine/Liberty Bikes
3 516 ZDENKA WORSHAM 8:00:19 14:17:55.237 06:17:36.551 Open Women F RALEIGH NC Constellation Cycling
4 170 JOSSELYN GUTIERREZ 8:00:19 14:39:57.932 06:39:39.246 Open Women F COCONUT CREEK FL Alex’s Bicycle Pro Shop
5 65 ELLEN CARROLL 8:00:19 15:26:24.430 07:26:05.744 Open Women F ATLANTA GA Rescue Racing/Reality Bikes
6 105 HEATHER DAVIS 8:00:19 15:29:37.110 07:29:18.424 Open Women F ATDEN NC Ally’s Bar
7 69 MONICA CASTILLO 8:00:19 15:43:03.418 07:42:44.732 Open Women F DELRAY BEACH FL
8 54 REBECCA BUBP 8:00:19 15:48:41.085 07:48:22.399 Open Women F CHARLOTTE NC Bikesource/JGRMX
9 99 STEPHANIE CRITCHFIELD 8:00:19 15:52:37.316 07:52:18.630 Open Women F STOCKBRIDGE GA Southern Crescent Cycling
10 474 KAILEE WAGNER 8:00:19 16:47:54.971 08:47:36.285 Open Women F JACKSONVILLE FL
11 275 VALERIE MATENA 8:00:19 16:54:20.055 08:54:01.369 Open Women F CHARLOTTE NC
12 202 MEGAN HUTTON 8:00:19 17:01:20.590 09:01:01.904 Open Women F BREVARD NC Sycamore Cycles
13 19 KATIE BARNES 8:00:19 18:54:46.656 10:54:27.970 Open Women F KNOXVILLE TN
14 66 KRISTY CARTER 8:00:19 19:36:46.539 11:36:27.853 Open Women F ASHEVILLE NC Asheville Bicycle Racing Club

Men’s Open:

1 137 ADAM ENGELL 8:00:19 12:31:53.414 04:31:34.728 Open Men M RALEIGH NC Specialized – Kitsuma Works
2 393 BRIAN SCHWORM 8:00:19 12:38:48.222 04:38:29.536 Open Men M MOREHEAD KY Think Green-Pedal the Planet p/b SWORD Cycling Team
3 449 CHRIS TRIES 8:00:19 12:40:10.742 04:39:52.056 Open Men M JOHNSON CITY TN Piney Flats cycling
4 12 MATTHEW BAILEY 8:00:19 12:41:02.012 04:40:43.326 Open Men M NEWPORT NEWS VA
5 491 MATT WILLIAMS 8:00:19 12:46:36.553 04:46:17.867 Open Men M ASHEVILLE NC Epic Brewing/MTBRacenews.com
6 183 WILLIAM HARRISON 8:00:19 12:50:20.635 04:50:01.949 Open Men M CHARLOTTE NC Clemmons Bicycle Racing
7 74 MATT CHAMPION 8:00:19 12:52:50.716 04:52:32.030 Open Men M BREVARD NC Sycamore Cycles
8 365 BEN RICHARDSON 8:00:19 12:57:36.685 04:57:17.999 Open Men M DANVILLE KY Think Green-Pedal the Planet p/b SWORD
9 411 SHAWN SMITH 8:00:19 12:59:16.088 04:58:57.402 Open Men M GAINESVILLE FL SCBS/WTC/CCS
10 45 NICK BRAGG 8:00:19 13:00:06.471 04:59:47.785 Open Men M ARDEN NC Piney Flats Cyclery and Fitness
11 58 WALLACE CAMPBELL 8:00:19 13:11:40.312 05:11:21.626 Open Men M SPARTANBURG SC
12 40 ROSS BOWDEN 8:00:19 13:13:39.973 05:13:21.287 Open Men M DURHAM NC Champion System / DCX
13 97 SEAN CRICHTON 8:00:19 13:23:45.789 05:23:27.103 Open Men M JACKSONVILLE BEACH FL
14 337 BRADFORD PERLEY 8:00:19 13:28:43.643 05:28:24.957 Open Men M BREVARD NC Brevard College
15 310 BRIAN MOUNTJOY 8:00:19 13:37:10.816 05:36:52.130 Open Men M DANVILLE KY Think green toyota presented by sword and pedal the planet


Jerdon Mountain Challenge 2015 – Results and Report

The 4th annual Jerdon Mountain Challenge kicked off a weekend of racing in Old Fort on Saturday, with more than 150 racers tackling the Off-Road Assualt on Mt. Mitchell’s “little brother.” At 26 miles, Jerdon features two main climbs, both followed by ripping singletrack descents.

With sunny skies, tacky trail conditions, and some recent improvements to Jerret Creek Rd, the potential for fast times was there, and last years winner, Brian Schworm (Think Green/Pedal the Planet) wasted no time in setting a vicious tempo up the first major climb on Jerret Creek. Very quickly, Schworm’s efforts reduced the lead group to just 4 riders, with Brad Perley (Brevard College), Matt Williams (Epic Brewing), and Ben Brown (J.A. King) joining Schworm at the front. Brown was the first to crack, followed shortly by Williams.

At the front, Schworm and Perley stayed together until Perley bobbled over the railroad tracks at the bottom of Heartbreak Ridge, allowing Schworm to open up a gap heading into the second climb of the day up Mill Creek Road. Perley would not be detered, however, and he put in a massive effort to catch and then drop Schworm before the final singletrack down Kitsuma Ridge. He was able to maintain his gap all the way to the line, setting a new course record in the process. Schworm rolled through for 2nd, while Williams rounded out the podium in 3rd.


Men's Podium.

Men’s Podium.

On the women’s side, eventual winner Nina Otter (Liberty Bikes) had an uncharacteristically slow start. “I got caught up behind some people getting around the gate at the entrance to Jerret Creek,” she would explain later, “and a couple of women got ahead of me.” She was able to claw her way back to the front though, and take the lead before entering the singletrack on Star Gap and Heartbreak Ridge. While she never opened up a big gap on second place rider Jennifer Moos (Pink Siren Sports), Otter was able to cruise home for the win with a comfortable margin. Moos to a well earned 2nd place, while Beth Freye (Blue Ridge Outdoors) took 3rd.

Women's Podium

Women’s Podium

Men Overall:

Position Bib # Name Start Finish Total Division Gender City State Team Name
1 677 BRADFORD PERLEY 7:59:58 09:48:46.992 01:48:48.808 Open Men M BREVARD NC BREVARD COLLEGE
2 631 BRIAN SCHWORM 7:59:58 09:52:11.712 01:52:13.528 Open Men M MOREHEAD KY Think Green-Pedal the Planet p/b SWORD Cycling Team
3 657 MATT WILLIAMS 7:59:58 09:57:43.426 01:57:45.242 Open Men M ASHEVILLE NC Epic Brewing/MTBRacenews.com
4 638 PATRICK SMITH 7:59:58 10:04:52.834 02:04:54.650 Open Men M NORTH AUGUSTA SC Team Greenville Health System
5 682 BRAD COBB 7:59:58 10:05:34.779 02:05:36.595 Master Men M LOOKOUT MT TN MOTOR MILE RACING
6 523 IAN BALDWIN 7:59:58 10:05:54.439 02:05:56.255 Open Men M ALEXANDER NC Suspension Experts
7 547 KEVIN CONRECODE 7:59:58 10:05:54.625 02:05:56.441 Open Men M ASHEVILLE NC Industry Nine
8 653 JEFF WELCH 7:59:58 10:06:35.772 02:06:37.588 Senior Men M LENOIR NC Fiets Maan Racing p/b Luna Cycles
9 594 CHRIS LARSEN 7:59:58 10:07:48.725 02:07:50.541 Open Men M ASHEVILLE NC ABRC
10 675 JIMM MCELROY 7:59:58 10:07:59.614 02:08:01.430 Open Men M WEAVERVILLE NC Fiets Maan Racing p/b Luna Cycles
11 681 CHRIS BROWN 7:59:58 10:11:21.021 02:11:22.837 Master Men M CHATTANOOGA TN Industry Nine p/b ABRL
12 581 MICHAEL HUDSON 7:59:58 10:12:25.879 02:12:27.695 Master Men M ASHEVILLE NC Juggernaut ESF
13 658 JEFF WINE 7:59:58 10:12:26.846 02:12:28.662 Master Men M LOUISVILLE KY Friends of Roll/ Effov
14 575 MICHAEL HODGES 7:59:58 10:14:31.809 02:14:33.625 Master Men M COCONUT CREEK FL The Best Bike Shop.com
15 627 CHRIS READY 7:59:58 10:15:26.147 02:15:27.963 Senior Men M ARDEN NC VeloSports Racing

Women Open:

Position Bib # Name Start Finish Total Division Gender City State Team Name
1 620 NINA OTTER 7:59:58 10:17:00.905 02:17:02.721 Open Women F ASHEVILLE NC Liberty Bikes/Industry Nine
2 671 JENNIFER MOOS 7:59:58 10:18:12.645 02:18:14.461 Open Women F FORT LAUDERDALE FL PINK SIREN SPORTS
3 561 BETH FRYE 7:59:58 10:28:06.698 02:28:08.514 Open Women F BOONE NC Blue Ridge Outdoors
4 618 LEAH NICHOLSON 7:59:58 10:42:51.240 02:42:53.056 Open Women F BREVARD NC
5 580 LAURA HOWELL 7:59:58 11:03:36.013 03:03:37.829 Open Women F CHATTANOOGA TN
6 665 KIRA ZAZZI 7:59:58 11:31:10.593 03:31:12.409 Open Women F DENVER NC Velo 16 BSG
7 599 LAUREL LONG 7:59:58 12:57:36.014 04:57:37.830 Open Women F HUNTERSVILLE NC Carolina Youth Cycling