Racing the Tour de Pumpkin

Rutherford Outdoor Coalition holding annual cycling event
Sep. 27, 2013 @ 05:12 AM

Avid cyclists will have the opportunity to challenge themselves as they climb more than 4,400 feet and travel 62 miles through the scenic streets of historic Rutherford County next weekend.

The Rutherford Outdoor Coalition (ROC), in coordination with the Town of Rutherfordton and several area sponsors, will host the 10th Annual Tour de Pumpkin cycling event on Saturday, Oct. 5 at 9:15 a.m.

"This event is really a celebration of the year in cycling and a fun season wrap up for cyclists," said Jerry Stensland, president of ROC. "We get a lot of our local cyclists who come out for one big last ride."

The Tour de Pumpkin will include two cycling courses, a 100K (62 miles) and a 50K (31 miles), traveling over hilly rural roads.

Both races will begin at the Rutherford County Office Building on North Main Street in Rutherfordton.

"What I enjoy about the event is the opportunity to take in the fall season in Rutherford County," said Alan Herrick, bike manager at Puzzle Creek Outdoor Company in Forest City. "The leaves should be changing nicely and there should be a little nip in the air for the event. We get a lot of cyclists who come in from other places, and we always get those comments from them about how pretty it is here in the county."

Herrick has been involved in cycling for eight years and has participated in the Tour de Pumpkin nine of the 10 years.

"Both the 50K and 100K courses are challenging but this is one of my favorite cycling events," Herrick said.

The 100K ride is a relentless roller coaster experience with nearly 4,440 feet of climbing on the course loop.

The ride quickly leaves Rutherfordton and puts riders on some of the most beautiful and lightly traveled country roads around, Stensland said.

Prior training for this ride is suggested as the course is not an easy one, but for those looking for a challenge it is an ideal ride.

The 100K has two rest stops along the course, the first 24.7 miles in and the second at the 42-mile marker.

The 50K ride follows the same route as the 100K for the first stretch, then breaks off and finishes on the final stretch of the 100K course.

The 50K loop is still challenging, including more than 2,200 feet of climbing.

Last year's Tour de Pumpkin attracted nearly 150 cyclists, with a large portion of riders traveling from outside Rutherford County to participate.

"About three-quarters of last years cyclists were from out of town, and we are hoping to have just as many cyclists riding this year," Stensland said.

Interested cyclists can still register by visiting The entry fee is $20 through Oct. 3 and $25 on the day of the event, Oct. 5.

The first 125 entrants will receive an event tech T-shirt and all participants will be treated to a post-ride meal provided by Rutherford Housing Partnership, as well as entered into drawings to win door prizes including gift certificates to Puzzle Creek Outdoor.

On race day, registration will begin promptly at 8:15 a.m. in front of the Woodrow Jones Building at the corner of Court and Main streets.

Half of the proceeds from the Tour de Pumpkin event will benefit Rutherford Housing Partnership.