Brown returns for Blood, Sweat and Gears
by Steve Behr Sports Editor
Brown played outside linebacker at Appalachian State before graduating in 1988. Brown is a district court judge in Salisbury, but an avid cyclist.
He combined a competitive nature with his cycling talent to win the Blood, Sweat and Gears last year while riding with the Windsong team. Brown's time was 5:02:50, just before second place Nick Fishbein of Concord and third place Noah Niwinski, who had a time of 5:02.51.
Brown's teammate, Ryan Jenkins, was fourth with a 5:02:55.
This year, Brown returns to defend his victory. Last year was the second time Brown won the ride, having done so in 2008. He was second in 2009 and was too sick to ride in 2010.
Jenkins also returns, and has a key ally in the race, which begins at 7:30 a.m. Saturday.
“It's been a thrill to be the first finisher two times,” Brown said. Admittedly, biking is a hobby I take way too seriously, but my teammate, Ryan Jenkins, will be getting my full support Saturday.”
The Blood, Sweat and Gears bike ride enters its 14th year as a fundraiser for the Watauga Red Cross. The funding goes toward the Jeremy Fund, which helps victims of disasters such as fires or floods.
Last year, ride founder and former Red Cross director Sonny Sweet said the ride can account for up to 33 percent of the organization's budget. Last year, the event — through sponsorships and entry fees — raised around $100,000.
The event was open to 750 riders to participate in the 100-mile course, and 500 for the 50-mile course. All riders return to take on infamous Snake Mountain, which also can separate contenders from each other.
Brown said that Jenkins, a 1996 Western Carolina graduate, geared his training to benefitting him for the ride Saturday.
“Despite Ryan being a Catamount, his training has been geared more for climbing and endurance events, whereas, I've been focused more on shorter duration racing with higher intensity,” Brown said. “Ryan has climbing legs that are ready for Snake Mountain, he's finished second in this year's Assault on Mount Mitchell and first at Three Mountain Madness.”
Brown's familiarity with the area is another reason why he returns to the High Country. He is a frequent visitor of Linville Gorge and the Table Rock summit.
He and his family also enjoy hiking to Elk Park Falls and to Lost Cove.
“Beyond Boone being Mecca for bike riders, I am committed to bringing my family to the area to experience the altitude, the beauty and the adventure,” he said.