Ah, fall. The colors! The crisp air! The crunch of leaves underfoot! The smell of wood smoke and wet wool!
Once again the earth’s axis is tilting away from the sun, bringing us the first cool caress of Canadian air. Summer’s oppressive heat is gone. The leaves are changing. The competitive urge is aroused. The athlete’s foot is in remission.
In other words, there’s no better time of year to sign up for a running or cycling event. And whether your tastes lead you in a masochistic direction (the 18-mile Shut-In Trail Run) or a sociable one (the Pumpkin Pedal), there’s an event right here in Western North Carolina to suit you and your level of fitness.
Below is a list of many of the region’s fall running and cycling events. Some are old favorites; others are new this year. If we’ve missed an event, please contact the Xpress Outdoors section at firstname.lastname@example.org and fill us in. We’ll be sure to mention it in future editions, or online at www.mountainx.com.
Saturday, Oct. 20: Burnsville Town Square Scamper 5K run. Begins at 9 a.m. Entry fee $15. High-school cross-country teams may enter at a cost of $60 per five-member team, $8 for each additional runner. Early-registered participants get a long-sleeve commemorative T-shirt. Visit www.mitchellraces.com/scamper for more information and to register.
The Tour de Leaves, a cycling event sponsored by Harmon Field and the Henderson County Family YMCA, starts and ends at Harmon Field near downtown Tryon. There are three possible routes: a metric century (100 km), half-metric century and a 10-mile family-fun ride. They wind through the foothills, featuring many short and long climbs as well as a few steep hills. The event features stocked rest stops (some with bathroom facilities) and SAG vehicle support. For the hungry and fragrant among you, lunch and showers are available after the ride. The event is a fund-raiser for the YMCA of Henderson County. Visit www.ymcahendersoncounty.org/tdl.htm.
Saturday, Oct. 27: Eliada Homes Inc. in Asheville holds its first annual Monster Dash 5K, a 3.1-mile road/trail race, complete with a “haunted orchard,” “cemetery,” ghouls and goblins. (Note to self: lace shoes tightly and bring a change of underwear.) Entry fee is $20. Same-day registration begins at 7 a.m., race starts at 9 a.m. For more information, visit www.eliada.org or call Kristen Brown at 254-5356.
The Rotary Club of Brevard will hold its Flight of the Vampire 5K race starting at the extremely creepy hour of 6:30 p.m. Entry fee is $20 until Oct. 22, $25 thereafter. To learn more, visit www.brevardrotary.org/VampireRun.cfm.
Sunday, Oct. 28: Smoky Mountain Bicycles in Franklin (www.smokymtnbikes.com) will host its annual Tour de Franklin, beginning at 9 a.m. at the shop’s new location on Highlands Road, approximately 1.2 miles south of the 441 bypass and across from the Franklin Shopping Center (near East Main Street). This year’s event features all-new routes, including a 22-mile “Family Fun Ride,” as well as 62-mile and 100-mile routes. Visit www.active.com to register.
Wednesday, Oct. 31: Asheville will come alive (ALIVE!) for the first annual “Pumpkin Pedal Halloween Tour,” which takes to the city’s spooky streets beginning at 6:30 p.m. The fun ride departs from Pritchard Park and ends in the city’s River District just in time for the start of the Wedge Gallery’s Halloween Bash ($10, featuring Green Man Ale and music by Stephanie’s Id, Ruby Slippers, the Firecracker Jazz Band and Unifire Theatre.) Costumes are strongly suggested.
Pro Bikes is offering a $2 discount on bike lights to help riders navigate the ghoulishly dark route.
Saturday, Nov. 3: Shut-In Ridge Run. “Twenty-five years of pain.” Departs Bent Creek near the N.C. Arboretum and ends at the Mount Pisgah parking lot, taking in 18 miles of trail including plenty of quad-ripping uphill. Entry is $50, limited to 200 runners. Tough enough? Visit www.shutinridgerun.com to register.
Saturday, Nov. 10: Tights, capes and bullet-deflecting bracelets will be the order of the day when Asheville Brewing Company kicks off its Super Hero 5K. Prize given for the best costume.
The race will start at 5 p.m. at the company’s 77 Coxe Ave. location, wind through downtown and Montford, and circle back to the pub for beer, pizza and prizes. Registration is $23 online, $30 on the day of the event. Visit www.ashevillepizza.com to learn more. Volunteers needed; e-mail Leigh Rangel at email@example.com to offer your services.
Saturday, Nov. 22:
The Jus’ Running Turkey Trot 5K. Shed all that stuffing at once. Visit www.jusrunning.com for details.