The Assault on Mt. Mitchell is the oldest gran fondo style race in the United States. This year for the 44th time 800 riders gathered in Spartanburg, South Carolina to start a 103-mile race to the 6,684′ summit of the tallest mountain east of the Mississippi River, Mt. Mitchell in North Carolina.
With over 10,000′ of climbing, most in the last 25 miles, the assault is epic and considered a must-do gran fondo bucket ride by riders all over the USA and beyond. The event always sells out.
University of North Carolina Charlotte freshman student and elite amateur racer Seth Jones, 18, of Mooresville, NC was the first to cross the finish line with a time of 5 hours, 6 minutes, 13 seconds. Approaching the finish line he gave a thumbs-up while the crowd cheered him on.
“This is my first time doing this event, and it was hard, especially the last 20 miles. Even though it was hard, it was really fun,” Jones told Upstate Media. “I’m definitely planning on coming back again.”
Jacob Rytlewski, who at 36 is twice the age of Jones, was 2nd in 5:10.25, followed by Michael Sencecenbuagh, 34, of Taccoa, Georgia in a time of 5:21.37.
Most of the 800 gran fondo riders take a bit longer than 5 hours to reach the top of Mt. Mitchell, the average time is about 7.5 hours, but that doesn’t include the 4 hour bus ride back down the mountain to Marion, North Carolina for Blue Ridge BBQ feast.