Foothill Striders and Blount Partnership Ramp Up for 26th Annual Tour De Blount
MARYVILLE, Tenn. – The 26th annual Tour de Blount cycling ride is scheduled to begin Saturday, May 20, 2017 at 7:30 a.m. at the Townsend Visitors Center. The Foothill Striders, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting community service and healthy lifestyles, and the Blount Partnership, worked to add requested features to this year’s event.
Knowing Blount County as a great place to ride, three cyclists started the Tour de Blount in 1991 as the first ride of its kind in the area. The ride gained popularity among cyclists as Blount County’s rural scenery and ever-changing terrain became recognized as one of the best places to ride in the country. The ride continues to promote Blount County’s beauty, taking cyclists throughout the county’s country roads and farmland, all with a view of the Smoky Mountains.
The Tour consists of four routes of varying distances. The flattest and shortest of the routes, the 25-mile course is the best option for beginning riders or those short on time. Cyclists have the option of beginning their ride on Highway 321 or on the more leisurely route down the Townsend Greenway to meet up for a scenic ride on River Road to the rest stop before turning around. A hilly 5-mile route can be added on the return trip if desired.
The 42-mile route takes riders in a different direction than the rest of the routes along peaceful backroads with views of both mountains and rural scenery. This route is for riders who like rolling hills and fast descents.
The Tour’s intermediate route is 54 miles of short hills and the occasional flat taking riders deep into the county for mountain views and into farmland.
Lastly, the 78-mile route, also called “The Wall Route,” is the most challenging route option and tests cyclists to the very end. Twenty miles into this route riders will begin the 3 ½ mile "Conquer the Wall" challenge taking them up Montvale Road on the western side of the Foothills Parkway. The Wall ends with a 13-14 percent climb leading the riders to awaiting bell-ringers, cameras and a very welcome rest stop.
King and Queen of the Mountain jerseys will be awarded to the first male and female rider to make it to the top, and a new Master and Grandmaster award will be presented.
The first 350 riders to register will receive a Tour de Blount pint glass, and those registered by May 15 are guaranteed a t-shirt featuring the colors of Maryville High School. Riders will receive red t-shirts and volunteers will receive white.
Access to support and gear services and fully stocked aid stations will be made available to riders on all routes.
At the end of the ride, cyclists will enjoy lunch provided by Smokin’ Joe’s Bar-B-Que as well as an adult beverage courtesy of new ride sponsor Fanatic Brewing Company. Other ride sponsors include Blount Discount Pharmacy, Cirruspath, Insight Home Inspection Services, LLC, Podium Sports Medicine, Cycology Bicycles, Health First Fitness, Best Western Cades Cove Inn and Y-12 Federal Credit Union.
The Blount Partnership acts as the title sponsor for the event again this year in the organization’s efforts to promote Blount County as a place for cyclists across the country to visit and ride.
“Blount Partnership is a great friend of the Tour de Blount and Blount County,” Eleanore Womac, the 2017 Tour de Blount Chair, said. “They promote cycling in our community as an economic resource, encouraging visitors to come and ride, stay and visit Blount County. They continue to seek to support cycling, pursuing greenway extensions and mountain biking in our community. This all brings visitors and tourism dollars into the county.”
A portion of the proceeds from this year’s Tour de Blount will benefit Bike Elf, a nonprofit organization that refurbishes donated bikes as rewards for children in incentive-based academic programs. Proceeds will also support two scholarships for area high school students.
“The Tour de Blount is always a welcome event in Blount County,” said Blount Partnership President and CEO Bryan Daniels. “The passion bikers and volunteers alike bring to the event is exciting to watch each year. We are part of a beautiful community and this event celebrates that along with encouraging healthy lifestyles for the county’s citizens.”
Registration is underway at www.bikereg.com and on-site registration will be available the day of the Tour. To learn more about the Tour and to watch for updates, please visit the event’s website at www.tourdeblount.com or the Facebook page by searching for “Tour de Blount.”