The Assault on the Carolinas, a fundraising cycling event for the Pisgah Forest Rotary Club, celebrates its 18th anniversary in 2017.
A lot has changed in the years since the Rotary Club of Pisgah Forest decided to hold a bike ride instead of a pancake breakfast. The first ride, held on April Fool’s Day, 2000, started at the Brevard High School parking lot and had only 48 riders. Today, the sell-out event is capped at 1,000 riders, and starts and finishes in downtown Brevard, complete with music, food and a beverage tent.
In 2016, riders from 23 states and Canada participated in the ride. Cyclists have a choice of 40K (25 miles), 60K (37 miles) and 100K (65.8) routes, the longest of which takes riders all the way into South Carolina and up the grueling climb over Caesar’s Head.
Although the ride is still only a one-day event, it requires far more preparation than it did during the early years. “The Assault, or AOTC, as we call it, takes a tremendous amount of work from our members, sponsors and volunteers before, during and after the event,” said Ride Director John Buford.
“Our community really shines during AOTC weekend and welcomes everyone,” he said. “It’s great to see the response from the community during the last few years when we’ve started and ended the race from downtown Brevard.” Although it’s a fun and signature event for riders and the community, Buford stresses that Rotary is first a service organization. “The Assault on the Carolinas is a fundraiser that provides funds to allow our club to make a difference in the community,” he said. “Through our Grant Committee, we give back to the programs that make Transylvania County a special place to live and work.”
Since its inception, the AOTC has generated over $300,000 in charitable contributions and untold benefits for local vendors, hotels and merchants. The 2016 AOTC alone generated more than $30,000 in grants to support community needs in three areas: children and youth, education and health. More than 15 local organizations received grants, ranging from the local Boys & Girls Club to the homeless shelter to student scholarships.
The 2017 Assault, scheduled for April 8, 2017, sold out in December of 2016. If you’re not riding, the AOTC is also a fantastic spectator event. Local residents and cycling fans cheer on the riders at the start and along the course, especially at some of the tougher climbs such as Walnut Hollow and Caesar’s Head. And, if you’ve never seen an AOTC start, when 1,000 riders take off from downtown Brevard, it’s a spectacle you don’t want to miss!
For more information about the Assault visit www.assaultonthecarolinas.com. To learn more about the Rotary Club of Pisgah Forest, visit www.pisgahforestrotary.org.