2020 Pisgah Stage Race Preview

Written by: Jen & Anthony Toops, Photos by: IconMediaAsheville

Blue Ridge Adventures presents the 12thannual Pisgah Stage Race. It takes place April 13th– April 18th  2020 in Brevard, North Carolina.  This 5-stage race takes riders on a tour of Pisgah, through the temperate rain forest sampling some of the best singletrack Pisgah has to offer. The race traverses over 140 miles and climbs 20000+ feet with scenic views, waterfalls, creek crossings, and is mix of 76% singletrack, 19% gravel, and 5% asphalt. As always, racers can also test themselves in the timed enduro section on each stage which has its own unique awards and overall crown.

The Pisgah trail system has always been know for its natural ruggedness but sometimes even the best trails require much needed TLC. Crews have been hard at work making some of the most popular trails in the area even better for 2020. Maintenance has been completed on upper/lower Black Mountain, Avery Creek and Bennett Gap, which ironically are all in stage 3. 2020 is gearing up to be one of the best yet!

More ways to race in 2020

2020 will debut some exciting new categories; women’s grand master 50+ and a duo 80+ or 100+ team category which require the teams combined age to equal 80-99 or 100+. There are some fast racers in all of these age groups so the competition should be fun to watch!

Standard PSR categories for 2020 include: Open Men, Open Women, Singlespeed, Vet Men 30-39, Vet Women 30-39, Master Men 40-49, Master Women 40-49, Grand Master Men 50-59, Grand Master Women 50-59 (New), Senior Men 60+, Duo Men, Duo Women, Duo Co-Ed, Duo men 80+ (New), Duo Men 100+ (New)

2020 Pisgah Stage Race Amenities:

  • 5 well marked courses with enduro segment each day
  • Instant chip timed results
  • Daily leader’s jersey for all categories
  • Fully stocked rest stops including mechanical and medical assistance
  • Drop system
  • Recovery zone after each stage
  • Bike wash
  • Breakfast each morning: Scones, coffee, granola, yogurt and fruit
  • 6 locally sourced dinners: Click here for 2020 dinner menu
  • Finishers T-Shirt
  • PSR jersey for all participants registered by March 15th
  • Custom Crafted Prizes –  Awarded to top three in each category. $750, $500, $250 to top three overall men and women for the cross country. $150, $130, $120 to the top 3 overall enduro men and women.

Stage 1: Clif’s Looking Glass Route- Tuesday, April 14th, 2020

Stage 2: Sunset Motels Promised Land Route- Wednesday, April 15th, 2020

Stage 3: Sycamore Cycles White Squirrel Route- Thursday, April 16, 2020

Stage 4: Fox Factory Carl Schenck Route- Friday, April 17, 2020

Stage 5: Industry Nine’s Land of Waterfalls Route- Saturday, April 18, 2020

Still debating? Don’t wait too long, there are limited spots left for a week full of roots, rocks and repeat! CLICK HERE to get registered.

Pisgah 111k/55.5k Report and Results

Pisgah 111k

Pisgah Productions dished out another weekend of epic racing in North Carolina with its Pisgah 111k and 55.5k events last Saturday and Sunday. The courses, which both feature a number of classic Pisgah highlights, some hard hike-a-bikes, and a few stream crossings for good measure, were looking a little more intimidating than usual after a week of soaking rain.

Thomas Turner on his way to a win in the Pisgah 111k

Thomas Turner on his way to a win in the Pisgah 111k. Photo Credit: Icon Media Asheville

A stacked field rolled out of the Pisgah Ranger Station early Saturday morning for the 111k, with things separating almost immediately on the first gravel climb of the day up to Buckhorn Gap. A group of seven including heavy hitters Thomas Turner (Jamis), Sam Koerber (Industry Nine), Gordon Wadsworth (Blue Ridge Bicycle Co.), and Tristan Cowie (Sycamore Cycles) crested the top together on their way to the days first major challenge: Squirrel Gap trail.

It was there that Cowie first showed his cards, attacking up Squirrel and quickly establishing a gap. “He was riding next level today,” Turner said later. Luck, however, was not on Cowie’s side, and he flatted soon after on the Cantrell Creek descent, allowing Koerber and Turner to slip past. And at Aid #1 that’s where things stood, Koerber followed by Turner out front, with Cowie chasing back and Wadsworth and Chris Tries (Piney Flats Bicycle Co.) rounding out the top five.

Gordon Wadsworth notching yet another overall podium on his singlespeed.

Gordon Wadsworth notching yet another overall podium on his singlespeed. Photo Credit: Icon Media Asheville

By Aid#2 a resurgent Cowie had ridden himself back to the front, taking Koerber with him. “I tried to stay on his wheel and lasted about 10 minutes,” Koerber would say later. Cowie was on his way to a big win, when another flat descending Spencer Gap trail ended his day. With Cowie walking out of the woods, Koerber led through Aid #3 and up Laurel Mountain trail when he too had flat trouble. He tried to put some air in, but the tire wouldn’t seal, forcing him to put in a tube – passing the lead to Turner in the process. Turner kept things smooth through Aid #4 and over Black Mountain trail to the finish, taking his second 111k win in two years, with Koerber rolling across in 2nd. Behind, Wadsworth piloted his singlespeed to a well-deserved 3rd overall.

In the women’s race, an expected battle between Kaysee Armstrong (Liv) and Nina Otter (Liberty Bikes) never materialized. Armstrong dropped Otter on the first climb of the day up to Buckhorn Gap and rode steadily from there, cruising to line and repeating last year’s win. Otter struggled to find her rhythm, and perennial Pisgah powerhouse Brenda Simril (Motor Mile Racing) rode to the second spot of on the podium, with Otter rounding out the top three.

Women's podium at the 111k.

Women’s podium at the 111k. Photo Credit: Icon Media Asheville


Pisgah 55.5K

A majority of 111k racers awoke early for round two on Sunday, and they were joined by a few new faces for the 55.5k. While it’s half the distance of Saturday’s race, the 55.5k is a slightly slower course, and riders were in for another big day in the saddle.

The field rolling into the first singletrack of the 55.5k.

The field rolling into the first singletrack of the 55.5k. Photo Credit: Icon Media Asheville

In the women’s race, it was Elizabeth Sampey, who had passed on the previous day’s racing, turning the screws at the front. Kaysee Armstrong (Liv) gamely kept things close, but she was unable to match the pace of Sampey, and took second. Brenda Simril (Motor Mile Racing) took her second podium in as many days with third.

Men's 55.5k podium.

Men’s 55.5k podium. Photo Credit: Icon Media Asheville

In the men’s race, it was Saturday’s top riders Thomas Turner (Jamis) and Sam Koerber (Industry Nine) riding together at the front all day. The two got an early gap by riding nearly all of the climb up Black Mountain trail, a stretch that forced most of the field to hike. Turner led for almost the whole day, but a crash that sent him off his bike on the final descent down Black Mountain trail gave Koerber a gap he held to the line. A very strong ride from Nick Bragg (Piney Flats Racing) netted him a well deserved podium as he crossed the line in third.

Full 111k Results

Full 55.5k Results


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


Pisgah Stage Race Stage 1 Video Highlights

Ally Stacher (Ally’s Bar) and Thomas Turner (Jamis) took the wins on day one of the Pisgah Stage Race yesterday. Stacher, a former pro road racer who switched to mountain bike racing this season, was unfazed by the wet conditions and cruised to the win. In the men’s race, Turner spent most of the day dueling with Jeremiah Bishop (Topeak-Ergon). The two spent much of the day together, before Turner got a small gap on the final gravel climb which he held down the Cove Creek trail descent to the finish.

Full Results Here.

Check out the video highlights from Land of Sky Media below.