After researching the ride’s feasibility for 2017, the Haywood Chamber of Commerce’s finance and executive committees decided to postpone the 2017 event and review it for 2018, according to an email Chamber Director CeCe Hipps sent to Breakaway supporters.
“This was an emotional decision not only for me but, for the Board of Directors, many whom have been a part of the event for the past seven years,” Hipps wrote.
Decreased ridership, increased event expenses, loss of revenue, competition from other events and challenges related to sponsorship monies, Tourism Development Authority guideline changes and staff time were cited as contributing factors.
Hipps emphasized the positive contributions that the Breakaway has made to the area over the seven years of its existence. The ride offered routes of 25 to 100 miles that explored the back roads of Haywood County as well as the Blue Ridge Parkway.
“We can all be very proud of seven wonderful, fun, exhausting years of a good ‘ride’ with this event,” Hipps wrote. “The efforts, time and dedication to bringing cyclists to Haywood County were productive, appreciated and acknowledged throughout Haywood County and beyond. We have made many lasting friendships, assisted riders in distress and felt pride to showcase our beautiful county that we all love.”
“The Breakaway leaves a great legacy of wonderful experiences for the participants, economic impact for Haywood County and helping to establish Haywood County as a premier cycling destination,” agreed Ken Howle, director of advancement at Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center, who has been involved with the Breakaway since it was just a concept.
The Breakaway is one of four signature events that the Chamber sponsors each year, and the other three are still on. One of those is the Gateway to the Smokies Half Marathon, planned for Saturday, May 6, and this year including a 4-mile race as well. Sign up at haywoodchamber.com/events-calendar/signature-events/gateway-to-the-smokies-half-marathon.