Cyclists Spend Over $23,000 at Local Businesses, Event Raises over $1,000 for Local Non-Profits

Kerry Werner ( Banner Elk, NC – BMC Mountain Bike Development Team) repeats – Stephanie Swan (Pittsburgh, PA – Tradewinds Racing) wins first UltraCross title

Pirate Race Productions’ third annual cycling event, Three Peaks USA UltraCross presented by the Banner Elk Winery and Villa, again lived up to its reputation as America’s Hardest Cyclocross Race. The event, part of the American UltraCross Championship Series and the Capo Cycling Apparel King of Pain Series, challenges cyclists to ride – and hike – 50 miles of roads and trails around Beech Mountain, climbing over 8,000 feet. Racers traveled from 16 states to face the challenge, spending over $23,000 while visiting the area. The event raised over $1,000 for local non-profits, including $770 for the Lees-McRae College cycling program, and $220 for the Beech Mountain Volunteer Fire Department’s AED Fund Drive.

The 50 mile race started on the gorgeous property of the Banner Elk Winery and Villa, before climbing through their upper vineyards to the Emerald Outback adventure trail park at the peak of Beech Mountain, adjacent to the historic Land of Oz theme park. From there, riders descended to the Headwaters at Banner Elk, where they meandered through the stunning community before navigating the treacherous descent of the Back 500 trail to Twisted Falls. Cyclists then had to climb Beech a second time, through covered bridges and past waterfalls on the Smoketree trail. The final ascent of the Third Peak took them past the vineyard a second time before finishing at the winery, where their hard work was rewarded with a delicious meal prepared by the Winery and Villa and an ample supply of Blowing Rock Ale.

Lees-McRae student-athlete Kerry Werner (Banner Elk, NC – BMC Mountain Bike Development Team) successfully defended his title, taking the overall win in 3:40:19.1 ahead of Over 40 division winner Garth Prosser (Columbus, OH – Specialized) at +0:04:20.1 and the UltraCross 40+ series leader Gerry Pflug (Mount Pleasant, PA – Stans NoTubes) at +0:13:15.7. Stephanie Swan (Pittsburgh, PA – Tradewinds Racing) took the lead in the UltraCross series with her first victory, followed by SCO/Micro Metals/Sunspot teammates Missy Petty and Elizabeth McCalley (Knoxville, TN). Zach Adams (Shippensburg, PA – Fast Forward Racing), race director of the Iron Cross Race, the final stop in the UltraCross series, won the absurdly brutal Single Speed division in 4:12:32.0 ahead of two more dominant Knoxville racers, Gary Chambers (Team Ed Racing) and Rich Kidd (TVB Race/Tomato Head). In the 37 mile “Half” distance race, James Martin (Arden, NC – American Cycles & Fitness) and Sandie Reynolds (York, PA – Mason Dixon Velo) took the wins. Winner’s took home bottles of Banner Elk Winery’s award-winning wine, Panaracer tires, and $1,000 in prize money. Winners of men’s and women’s age groups ranging from Under 20 to Over 60 in the inaugural King of Pain Series, consisting of Three Peaks USA, Boone-Roubaix, and The Ascent were also awarded Capo Cycling Apparel winners’ jerseys. Full results are available at www.threepeaksusa.com/results.

In appreciation for their hard work to help make this year’s race such a huge success, Andrew Stackhouse of Pirate Race Productions today presented Lees-McRae Cycling Director Doug Owen with a check for $770 to help fund their scholarship program and attain a fifth national championship under his leadership. This follows a $220 donation to the Beech Mountain Volunteer Fire Department’s AED (automated external defibrillator) Fund Drive to purchase critical lifesaving technology, as well as $300 paid to members of the local law enforcement community and $400 for Appalachian State University students who contributed their time to keep the racers safe.

According to the post-race survey completed last week by 65 of the participants, the event attracted over 175 visitors to the High Country, spending $11,178.67 on local lodging. Participants spent $6,917.82 on dining, and $5,220.85 doing other shopping. Nearly all the participants in the event were from outside the area, and for one-third of the racers, this was their first time ever visiting Banner Elk or Beech Mountain. Significantly, 86% of respondents indicated that as a result of their experience at the event  they are “likely” or “highly likely” to return to Beech Mountain for cycling activities, and 63% for other vacation activities. These data demonstrate that not only did the event make a positive impact on the local economy, but Pirate Race Productions again created new tourists who will return to the area and support local businesses for years to come.

Sponsorship investment is critical to the ability of High Country communities to host events and benefit from the tourism spending they generate. Thanks to the generous support of the Beech Mountain Tourism Development Agency, the Beech Mountain Parks and Recreation DepartmentFred’s General Mercantile, the Pinnacle Inn Resort, Four Season at Beech, the Headwaters at Banner ElkMagic Cycles, and Abby Design and Construction, Pirate Race Productions can continue to deliver weatherproof tourists that spend generously, and generate new, long-term, repeat visitors, growing the national reputation of Beech Mountain as a premier active outdoor destination.

Pirate Race Productions specializes in creating social media buzz around unique and exciting events to help our business partners attract dedicated new customers. Pirate Race Productions is dedicated to staging and promoting athletic events that are incredibly fun for our participants, valuable marketing opportunities for our sponsors, a positive contribution to our host communities, and provide great entertainment for our spectators. Visit BikeHighCountry.com to learn about tons of fun events including the Abby Construction Cyclocross Series, the Wilkesboro Cyclocross Festival, Boone-Roubaix: The Hell of the High Country, The Ascent, and Three Peaks USA UltraCross.