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Photo: Derek Diluzio

Held annually in April, the Pisgah Stage Race is now entering its 11th year. While certain aspects of the 5-day event have become unshakable tradition, Race Director Todd Branham of Blue Ridge Adventures has also been hard at work delivering steady improvements with each passing iteration. Still, over the years the courses have remained largely unchanged.

For 2019, however, Branham is excited to announce that the race team will be shaking things up. One change that will be impossible to ignore is the decision to move the notorious Farlow Gap trail from the last day to the first. Farlow and “flow” have never been spoken in the same sentence — in fact, the trail is widely regarded as the rowdiest to be found in this neck of the woods. With that in mind, Branham made the decision to let racers stretch their legs and get some inevitable hike-a-bike sections out of the way on day one.

“A lot of people think it’s just going to be ride, ride, ride and you never get off your bike — man, that’s just not Farlow.” While stage one is now slightly shorter than previous years, the added climbing to get up to Farlow and the fact that it contains the most technical stretch of trail mean it’s somewhat harder. That’s allowed Branham to compensate and make stage five a little easier, and he thinks your legs will thank him on that final day.

Three of the five stages feature new routes, and racers will also get to test their mettle on two new enduro sections. Perhaps the most exciting for those familiar with Pisgah is the inclusion of the famed Bennett Gap trail, which for many riders strikes a particularly appealing balance between pucker and grins.

Pisgah Stage Race, 2017

Besides new routes, the 2019 Pisgah Stage Race promises to offer amenities above and beyond what racers have come to expect, such as an A-to-Z package available for international riders or those wanting to leave logistics to the Blue Ridge Adventures team. The package includes transportation to and from the airport, to and from each start and finish line, trips to the grocery store to stock up on race fuel, and rides between hotels and the Brevard Music Center, which serves as the main venue after each day of racing. Lodging options are also now available in cabins at the Brevard Music Center, putting racers within walking distance of all their meals as well as the finish line of the final stage.

Pisgah Stage Race, 2017

All in all, Branham and the Blue Ridge Adventures crew are stoked about the updates and are excited for another year of showcasing some of the best riding in the country. If you’re itching for a vacation and you’d like to spend it riding around Pisgah and making new friends, it’s not too late to sign up for the experience of a lifetime.

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By Aaron Chamberlain
 
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