Details Announced for 2019 Pisgah Stage Race

Jan 24, 2019
by Jeff Plassman  

Photo courtesy of Icon Media Asheville
2019 Pisgah Stage Race
The 2019 Pisgah Stage Race offers 3 new stage routes and 2 brand new Enduro segments

PRESS RELEASE: Pisgah Stage Race

The 2019 Pisgah Stage Race is back for the 11th annual event that takes place April 8th through the 13th in the premier east coast riding destination of the Pisgah National Forest. The race is designed and carefully orchestrated by Blue Ridge Adventures. For 2019, the event continues it's tradition of innovation this year with new stage routes, more lodging options, full breakfast and dinner, and travel package offerings with the Asheville airport.

Five Stages in Pisgah's Promised Land
All five stages are located in the Pisgah National Forest and are readily accessible from the town of Brevard, North Carolina in the south eastern United States. The five day course has over 140 miles of riding and 20,000+ ft of elevation gain. The routes also boast having a composition of 76% singletrack, 19% dirt roads, and only 5% asphalt. This year the event includes three new stage routes and two brand new Enduro segments.

We’ll take a look at the new stage routes and Enduro segments and discuss strategies for making the most of each stage. Then, we’ll talk about new options for lodging and travel so you can get your stage race experience all lined up.

Pisgah Stage Race
CLIF’s Looking Glass Route
Stage 1 features a new route for 2019 as well as a brand new Enduro segment

2019 Pisgah Stage Race course info
2019 Pisgah Stage Race

The opening stage has a new route for this year as well as a new Enduro segment. Stage 1 includes the infamous Farlow Gap, known as one of the most challenging and raw trails in the Pisgah back country. Locals know that just climbing up to Farlow Gap is a hefty ride by itself. Trying to beat the clock on the Enduro segment while negotiating the often wet and always gnarly rocks and roots of Daniel Ridge will be a hard first lesson for some, and an absolute blast for many of the skilled descenders in the pack. After racers completed Farlow Gap, there is a singletrack climb to the Cove Creek trail and then the stage ends with a descent on Cove Creek’s amazing singletrack.

2019 Pisgah Stage Race

Inside Line for Stage 1
• Both the Daniel Ridge Enduro and Farlow Gap trail are very technical, plan your bike set up accordingly
• Be prepared to go out hard, you’ll want to get ahead as much as possible heading for the Enduro segment
• Daniel Ridge is sneaky fast, but can also eat you alive, so pick the best flowing lines you can
• On the rough Enduro segment, flying over a rock section or nasty root drop is fastest, but check your landing zone carefully
• Watch out for the big exposure on the steep fall line off to the right side of the Daniel Ridge trail
• Most of Farlow is rideable, however a few sections are basically impossible on a bike, so hiking is a must in a some spots and likely faster than trying to ride it all
• Survive Farlow and pin it up to Cove Creek and down to the Finish
• Pre-ride from the stage start to the end of the Enduro if possible, but otherwise save your legs

Pisgah Stage Race
Sunset Motel’s
Promised Land Route
Stage 2 includes the iconic Squirrel Gap and Black Mountain trails of Pisgah

2019 Pisgah Stage Race course info
2019 Pisgah Stage Race

The second stage course remains the same as previous few years, and that’s a good thing. Some of Pisgah’s most iconic trails make up this stage including: Squirrel Gap, Buckhorn Gap, and Black Mountain. Once the course turns on to South Mills River trail, the singletrack essentially never ends until the finish. The Enduro segment on Black Mountain ends just before the finish at the bottom of Black Mountain. This stage has so much back country singletrack that it makes it hard to plan an aid station strategy. The trails on this stage reward racers adept at riding the narrow, and often technical Squirrel Gap. Descending specialist will make major moves at the top of the Black Mountain’s Enduro segment and flat out rippers who can rail pumping and sometimes off camber flow trail will excel on the bottom section.

2019 Pisgah Stage Race course info

Inside Line for Stage 2
• Bring enough supplies to ride the entire stage without stopping if you can, the aid station comes very late in this stage due to the extended back country singletrack
• There is a police escort out of town, stay with the peloton in the right lane and don’t blow up the pace! The real racing starts when you hit the moderate gravel climb to singletrack
• Drop in to the sweet singletrack on South Mills River, and then prepare to push it hard up the trail climb on Mullinex to maintain good position for Squirrel Gap
• If you’re a singletrack daemon on narrow techy trail’s, Squirrel Gap is going make you smile! If not, pull over momentarily if a faster rider catches you
• Recover a bit on your climb up Buckhorn Gap, and then rally to get to the top of Black Mountain
• The Enduro on Black Mountain has two zones: An upper zone that is raw, blown out, and super techy. Pick your lines and commit. Stay off the front brake in the gnar
• The Enduro's lower zone is very fast, but you need to watch out for off camber turns, plenty of water bars, and embedded rock booters
• Pre-ride the Black Mountain descent if you can, it is a must for a good Enduro run

Pisgah Stage Race
Sycamore Cycles
White Squirrel Route
Stage 3 has a new route and a new Enduro segment on the world famous Bennet Gap descent

2019 Pisgah Stage Race course info
2019 Pisgah Stage Race

If you pulled this stage’s wallet out of a bag, it would be the one that says Bad Mother F#*#*r. Yeah, that’s right, BMF. Just look at that elevation profile! This stage has been re-designed for 2019 and includes some of the most raw and flat out bad ass riding you can fit in one stage in Pisgah. The stage starts with Sycamore Cove and then climbs up Black Mountain. Next, a fast fire road descent is followed by a big climb up Claw Hammer’s gravel road. At the top, the course continues to climb up the western section of Black Mountain before descending a raw, steep, and chunky stretch of the same mountain. It’s old trail and it’s dirty. You’ll make a left onto Avery Creek and continue the descending down this classic Pisgah descent that served as the previous year’s Enduro segment for stage 3. Avery will finally ease up and you’ll pop out to an aid station before starting your climb to Bennet Gap. Next, the Enduro segment on Bennet Gap features perhaps the most popular descent in Pisgah right now. It’s where visitors come to test their skills and local downhillers go to get some practice. Then, the course climbs back up the eastern part of Black Mountain for a second chance at the final descent from the previous day’s stage.

2019 Pisgah Stage Race

Inside Line for Stage 3
• Start this stage at a moderate fast pace, and remember it’s easy to go out too hard
• Be ready for some hike a bike going up Black Mountain, it is very step and technical
• Put in a good effort going up Claw Hammer but save a bit in the tank for the remaining singletrack climb on the western part of Black Mountain
• Bomb down Black to Avery the best you can, but be careful not to explode your wheels on the rough terrain
• Hit the aid after Avery and re-fuel immediately
• Charge Bennet when you can with confidence, but beware of a couple of very technical rock sections
• Once you are done with Bennet, charge the climb back up to Black Mountain, and send it back down!
• Pre-ride the Bennet Gap Enduro if possible

Pisgah Stage Race
FOX Factory’s
Carl Schenck Route
Stage 4 has the best climb in Pisgah up Laurel Moutain and one hell of an Enduro coming down Pilot Rock

2019 Pisgah Stage Race course info
2019 Pisgah Stage Race

Stage four starts from the historic Cradle of Forestry Center located in the heart of the Pisgah National Forest. This area represents the birthplace of modern forestry in America and the stage is named after Dr. Carl Schenck who was brought here in 1895 by the Vanderbilt family to manage the forest. After racing this stage make sure to tour the forestry center and find the tree grown from seed that visited the moon with Apollo mission astronauts.

The start rolls out on Yellow Gap fire road and increases at steady pace until pitching up the climb on Funnel Top Mountain. The course then bombs down the chunky and technical Horse Cove trail to connect with Squirrel Gap. Now you get to dance with the Squirrel as you tear into it’s narrow and techy singletrack ribbon. Squirrel Gap is so narrow in places that some call it “half track”. You’ll be riding Squirrel gap the opposite direction from stage 2 and it will seem like a completely different trail as you rail tight turns and root clusters heading towards another section of dank singletrack. Laurel Creek is a moderately descending trail that you can absolutely shred if you stay hard on the gas. It see’s limited use and you’ll know this as your flying down and a Rhododendron branch grabs your brake perch and gives you a tickle, or nearly causes you to wreck. Now, grab some recovery fuel out of your jersey and settle in for a massive climb. You’ll get a chance to re-hydrate and re-fuel while making your way up the fire road towards the aid station at the base of Laurel Mountain. The climb that follows is one of the best singletrack climbs you will ever encounter. The Laurel Mountain climb contains many beautiful and distinct zones as you gradually make your way to the top. There are technical rock sections that are very difficult to ride. There are also zones of amazing Rhododendron tunnels and rocky passages. All in all, it’s among the best singletrack climbs anywhere. Next, the Enduro starts at the top of Pilot Rock. The descent is a direct contrast to Laurel Mountain’s gradual climb. Pilot Mountain is rocky, real rocky. The descent has tight switchbacks that are carved out of rocky passages and constantly threaten to knock you down. Towards the bottom of the descent there is a huge rock garden, usually flanked by a mob of hecklers. After that, the descent has more actual soil, but it’s eroded, raw, and one hell of a rodeo ride as speed!

2019 Pisgah Stage Race course info

Inside Line for Stage 4
• Charge hard on the climb up Funnel Top and consume some fuel before you summit because you’ll be way too busy to munch on anything while riding on Horse Cove, Squirrel Gap, and Laurel Creek
• Make sure you refuel and hydrate as soon as you start climbing the gravel after Laurel Creek
• Be aware, the 7 mile singletrack climb up Laurel Mountain starts right after the aid station
• Pilot Rock is physically demanding with a rough descent, so stay loose and hang on
• There is no easy way to pre-ride the Pilot Rock Enduro

Pisgah Stage Race
Industry Nine’s
Land of Waterfalls Route
Grip it and rip it on the Stage 5 Enduro segment at Bracken Mountain

2019 Pisgah Stage Race course info
2019 Pisgah Stage Race

After four grueling and rewarding days in Pisgah, riders get to tackle the new stage 5 route for the final day of racing. There is a fairly short shuttle ride to the start location just off the highway south of Brevard. Stage 5 starts with steady gravel climb to Butter Gap. If there is rain during the week, Butter Gap will live up to its name with some very slick sections and off camber trail over wet rocks to keep things lively. Butter Gap is technical at the top and then transitions to a very fast and flowing rip through Rhododendron tunnels. Next, the course climbs some singletrack back out to a gravel road leading to the Davidson River trail. The flat out, fast as you can pedal section Davidson River trail leads to the final climb from the Fish Hatchery. The climb up to Bracken Mountain is long and steady, but not that steep. Upon reaching the top, the course holds one last mega Enduro segment. The Bracken Mountain Enduro is much longer than all of the other stage Enduro segments, and includes some climbing. Bracken does not disappoint though as it is filled with pumping trail, sweet corners, and lots of options to boost it, or suck it up and pump it fast. The best part is that the Enduro ends directly at the Brevard Music Center where the Pisgah Stage Race overall finish is located. Stage 5 is an awesome way to wrap up a work weeks worth of stage racing in Pisgah!

2019 Pisgah Stage Race course info

Inside Line for Stage 5
• This stage rewards cross country and endurance racing skills
• If the technical nature of Pisgah has been slowing you down a bit on previous stages, Stage 5 is where you need to strike back
• Put big efforts into the climbs on this stage to put in a fast time
• Pre-ride the Bracken Mountain Enduro if you can by climbing up to the top from the Bracken Mountain Preserve lot (take the shortest route on the climb) and then ride the Enduro course back to the lot while taking note of key places where you need to maintain momentum

On-Site Housing and Travel Packages
For 2019 on-site housing is available at the Brevard Music Center. There are also travel packages available with pickup and drop off at the Asheville Regional Airport (AVL).

The Brevard Music Center is the base camp for all Pisgah Stage Race activity. PSR’s opening ceremony, nightly dinners and awards, the start and finish to Stage 5, and closing ceremonies will all be held here on-site. BMC’s campus is also easily accessible by bike, car, or optional shuttle to Brevard’s vibrant downtown area, offering visitors a wealth of retail and dining options.

All of the on-site accommodations and travel packages include:

• Continental Breakfasts
• Nightly Dinners
• Air conditioning
• Linens and towels provided
• Parking at the cabin
• Daily trash and towel service

Sign up for the Pisgah Stage Race

2019 Pisgah Stage Race course info

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Press Releases


  • 10 0
 I've ridden just about every trail listed and this stuff is no joke folks. My legs are cramping just reading it.
  • 4 0
 But man that grin factor!
  • 2 0
 I raced an enduro a few years back... concur... this place is the real deal. My legs were smoked.
  • 8 1
 The Pisgah sucks! Don't come!
  • 1 0
  • 4 1
 I will not be in good enough riding shape to do this, so I will not compete. Plus I have a YT Jeffsy, basically trash now that Gwin has left. Pretty much bikeless.
  • 2 0
 This course looks so much fuuuuuun! If I could take the days of work I would definitely ride it. If you have the time, these trails won't let you down!
  • 1 0
 I have a fairly lightweight bike-packing set up, and that's the only way I would attempt any of these stages. I'd be thrilled if I finished any of them in 2 days time.
  • 1 0
 Suck on that eastern states cup
  • 1 0
 Stage 4 is such a good ride.

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