Saturday, July 30, 2011

more Tsali but of the whitewater type

In all honesty the price for a guided trip down the Nantahala was a bit more pricey than I really wanted to pay, $38 per person and for $23 you could go it alone with all the gear and a ride to the top. Like I said before, the Nantahala is considered one of the more tame rivers for big monster truck rafts like what we had so we figured our lack of skill in the rapids might bring a little more excitement to the table.

They had us watch some silly movie, showed us how to properly fall out of the raft and of course how to wear a life jacket but I was more concerned about losing my sunglasses than going for a swim. The bus ride up was pretty entertaining or I guess our bus driver was entertaining. Jose Paco Sanchez Julio was his name or so he said and his personality was just as large. We had a few laughs on the way up, in hindsight he might have been working for tips but we didn't tip him.

As we loaded into our raft Andy and I argued over who was going to be the raft leader, you know the person in back doing the least amount of paddling, all the steering and the guy who gets to bark orders at everyone else. We decided to arm wrestle for it but after 15 minutes of neither of us pinning the other we settled on sharing the job which worked out good.

The river was packed full of rafts, some guided, some not and a bunch of kayakers. It wasn't hard to tell which way to go as everyone was taking the same line and the pre-trip video show us in detail which line to take in both of the big rapids. In all reality it's hard to screw up bad, those rafts are huge and will pretty much roll right through anything. Just point them straight and paddle, worse case scenario someone goes swimming or you get hung up on a rock.

With both Andy and I in the back, the raft sat a little lower in the rear, maybe it was designed to do that, I'm not sure but we were ankle deep in ice cold water which made my feet go numb. Walking around with numb feet is harder than you would think and I'm sure pretty funny looking. Being that the river was so crowded with rafts we tried to give ourselves plenty of room as we went through the rapids. At one point we back paddled trying to let the boats in front of us get though and two boats behind us came up beside of us one on each side of us. They both just kind of looked at us funny and then all of the sudden started splashing us from both side with the cold river water. It was pretty funny and really we couldn't get away so we just fought back as best we could. One of the rafts in particular, a group of young guys, seemed to be the ring leaders and were doing the same to other unsuspecting rafts.

A little later on down the river we came across a stranded guy alone in the river, his raft of campadres a couple hundred yards down the river. He had obviously gotten tossed from his boat and they were having a hard time trying to get him back due to the current. Being the nice people that we are we scooped him up and carried him downstream to his raft. As we bussed him down I recognized him from the group of guys who had splashed us earlier. We thought about tossing him out but decided against it with a better idea. As we approached his raft we picked up a little speed maneuvering through some light rapids. Rather than back paddle before reaching his boat we rammed it at full speed. Funny thing was, the guy jumped from our raft into his perfectly just as we hit. The impact shoved their raft up on some rocks hanging them up and we bounced off of them and continued downstream laughing as we watched them trying to get off the rocks.

The rest of the trip went well, we maneuvered the rapids good enough that no one went swimming. We did bounce off a couple rocks here and there, some sideways. The very end just before the take out was where the biggest rapids were consisting of what they called a 4 foot waterfall. I'm not sure it was really a waterfall but it was rougher than anything I've ever done un-guided. There was a take-out point just before the falls for anyone who wanted to scope out the run or for any chicken who just didn't feel up to the run but after some debate we opted to run it blind just in case looking at it scared us into taking the chicken line. It was a little scary, I will admit and for a second I thought we were going to run it sideways, my side first. I actually almost came out but somehow we pulled it out and made it safely to the end.

I probably could ramble on about the weekend some more but I'll save you from the boredom.

Friday, July 29, 2011

more Tsali weekend adventures

Normally my big weekend adventure posts that span across a day or two usually include a bunch of photos but for some reason we didn't take any pics last weekend. Why we didn't I'm not sure, we had cameras on hand. I guess we were just having too much fun and forgot, sorry. I do have some to share that I forgot about from the previous weekend but I'll get to those later.

So where was I.... oh yeah, Tsali, I ain't gonna lie we didn't put in a bunch of miles on the bike Saturday, after riding Thompson and Mouse Branch we opted for a shower and lunch/beers on the river banks of the Nantahala river. The NOC (Nantahala Outdoor Center), if you've never been there is like a small village in itself all centered around the river and whitewater. We've grown attached to the two funky little restaurants that sit on the river banks. The have pretty good food but the local brews they have on tap and the kayak action going on just a few feet from your table is what really draws our attention. We ran back to camp, swapped out sweaty, stinky lycra, grabbed the dogs and headed over to the NOC. Moonshine and Jackson love to play in the water even though it's ice cold. While Melinda stood in line geating lunch I took the dogs into the water to play. There were a couple of kids collecting rocks off the bottom and stacking them up on a larger rock just off the waters edge. Moonshine, who has a thing for rocks was watching the two kids very closely. Before I knew it she started snatching their rocks they were laying out to the side. After a minute the kids realized what was going on and gave me the stink eye.

While we were having lunch on the banks of the river with the dogs a group of guys practicing swift water rescue for the local rescue squad caught our attention. They were pretty cool to watch, especially their techniques for pulling someone out of the water in class 2 and 3 rapids. I noticed all of them were wearing helmets with their names or nicknames written on duct tape on the front of their helmets. In one particular rescue they had their biggest guy, probably pushing 300 lbs., with the nickname "ham sandwich" or "hamburger" stand facing up stream while the rest of the guys ducked in behind him in two lines. Ham Sandwich was wide enough that the rest of the guys could stand behind him and stay out of the current. They all kind of leaned into him to keep him upright against the flow and walked sideways out into the river to the person who they were rescuing. They grabbed the kid up tucked him in behind Ham Sandwich and carried him back to shore all as one unit, Ham Sandwich diverting the rapids around the group.

Sunday morning after we ate our weight in free pancakes we loaded up and headed back to the NOC for an appointment with some whitewater. It's been a long time since I rafted the Nantahala so I really couldn't remember the difficulty but everyone said it was pretty tame so we opted to go unguided. If things got slow on the river we figured our lack of experience might make it a bit more entertaining.

more later..........

Thursday, July 28, 2011

trip to Tsali

I probably should have broken my last post up into 2 or 3 but I honestly didn't think I would write that much. The more I wrote the more the details started coming back to me. I hope it wasn't too boring and full of a bunch of grammatical errors. Usually Melinda will let me know if there is and will make me fix them.

Last weekend we took a short camping trip down to Tsali for a bit of singletrack action with our local mtn bike club. About half of the group made a weekend out of it camping at Tumbling Waters Campground and the other half drove down for the day on Saturday.

We usually opt for the Tsali campground which is located right at the trailhead but the last time we were there it seemed that the campground was in need of some maintenance. The bath houses were in bad shape as were the campsites and it was difficult to drive through the place with out dragging roof mounted bikes through the low hanging trees. Since we've had such a hot summer we decided to stay at Tumbling Waters for a little something different, that and the full hookups in each site for only a couple of dollars more. We've stayed there once before but it's been a while and back then we were still tent camping as were most of the rest of the crowd that weekend. This last weekend the place was packed full with large campers. They squeezed us and our little 16 foot ECO in between two, 25+ footers. The campsites were alot smaller than we are used to, putting our neighbors sewer hookup right next to our picnic table.

The close proximity was really my only complaint, Tumbling Waters and it's owners are great. The campground and bathrooms are clean, shaded and there is a nice stream running along one side of the campground. We really weren't bothered by our neighbors noise with the sound of the stream just a few feet from our site. Another nice thing about Tumbling Waters is that the owners cook breakfast Sat and Sunday morning free of charge for their guests. I would definitely go back but I might request a different spot, I could give up the stream for a little more room especially with two large dogs laying around.

Saturday after breakfast we loaded up the bikes and drove over to the trailhead and met up with the rest of the group who were day tripping it. We opted for Mouse Branch and Thompson Loop since the right and left are usually what we ride when racing there. The trails seem to be in a little bit better shape since the formation of a local SORBA club.

The ride was a nice casual pace for the most of the day and everyone seemed to be enjoying the trails and just having fun. I can't remember what sparked it, probably me, but a little smack talk started up towards the end of Thompson Loop. Before I knew it someone said something about a race to the end, probably Mr Dillow and of course I obliged. We cruised along for a bit until someone said go and we were off. Of course the prize for the winner, a cold beer paid for by the loser at lunch. Things started off kinda slow at first, I'm not sure if everyone as taking it too seriously until Andy stood up and stomped on the pedals leaving us all in the dust. That right there sparked a full on race and it wasn't long before Abby joined in on the trash talking. As we tried to chase Andy down Abby pulled ahead really digging deep as we flew along the singletrack. I jumped on her rear tire wondering how long she could keep her pace knowing the trail was getting ready to point up hill. I decided to wait and see before I made a move not wanting to waste all of my energy on the climb. I was aboard the JET which isn't an awesome climber but I knew we had a nice, long and rough downhill at the end. That's where I hoped to catch Andy. As we turned a corner and the hill revealed itself I guess Abby wasn't expecting it and she blew up allowing me to get by her with only Andy to chase down. By then he had put a sizable gap on us and I had a feeling it would be hard to reel him in.

The cool thing about the JET, especially after the recent upgrades is it has really boosted my confidence on the downhills, something I really needed. I really opened it up once the trail pointed downhill and tried my best to catch Andy. I made up alot of ground on him and reeled him him pretty close but ran out of trail and took 2nd. They always say races are won on the climbs and I'd say that's true. That's why the JET is my fun bike and the AIR9 is for racing, what little I do. Lately the JET has become my go to bike, I've had a ton of fun riding it.

Since I've already written more than I thought I would I'll stop for now so not to bore anyone to death and save the rest for later.

Monday, July 25, 2011

triathlon re-cap

What can I say other than I'm a slacker, well not really. I totally meant to write a lengthy post reflecting on my first adventure in a triathlon last week but my work week decided otherwise for me. Last week was one of those weeks that makes you think seriously about whether you chose the right career path or not. I'm not going into details about what went down but I'll just say I definitely earned my money for the month of July.

So the triathlon, well it's been so long since it happened I've pretty much lost interest in telling the story but I feel I owe it to somebody who might have read my last post and actually came back the next day in hopes of finding a recap so here goes.

A group of us met up to pre-ride the race course Friday night just to get a feel of what exactly we were getting ourselves into the next morning and I'm really glad we did. It was raining when we pulled into the p-lot and I told everyone else they were welcome to skip the pre-ride in favor of a more dry environment at the local mexi joint but no one backed out. The course was all off road, slick, rooty and included about 5-6 bridge crossings that were moss covered and slicker than penguin doo-doo. Most of them were also positioned in the middle of a turn which required you to dismount, tip-toe carefully to the other side, and make absolutely, positively sure your rear tire was clear of the end before either foot touched a pedal.

The course consisted of a 3.5 mile trail run, a kayak portion that circled the lake which was small before returning back to the short but nasty slick trails for 2 more laps on the bike.

Saturday morning the race started off in the rain and thankfully my pre ride in the rain the previous night paid off so I kind of knew what was expected. I toed up on the line, checked the GoPro, it was working, and waited for the start. For some reason a majority of the racers opted to start a bit further back and I wasn't sure why because I knew I had showered that morning. I stuck to my spot because I knew once we hit the woods, passing would be tough and I would rather be in someone else's way than trying to pass a slower runner in treacherous conditions.

When the flag dropped I took off at a bit faster pace than I knew I could handle. My goal was to be in the top 5 when we hit the tree line and I think I was close. Once in the woods I settled into the pace I knew I could sustain and tried not to think about the guys in front of me who were shrinking in the distance. As we ran along I focused on staying up right over speed, I didn't want to take myself out of the race too early with a fall.

About 2 miles in a guy came up behind me quick and breathing hard. I waited for him to ask me to pass but the question never came. I waited some more and then offered to let him by as he was really on my heels. When no answer came I turned, looked, and saw he was plugged into his IPod. Stupid, I figured if he really wanted by me he was going to have to unplug and talk to me so I ran on at my pace not bothering to give him any room.

After a couple of minutes of breathing down my neck he fell back almost as quick as he came on. I'm still not sure what happened to him but he proceeded to repeat this ridiculous performance three more times. After the 3rd time he fell back I didn't see him again until we passed each other on the lake, he was still plugged in.

The kayak portion of the Tri was probably the most boring portion of the race. I didn't gain or loose any positions, my boat was not the slowest but it's far from a race boat. When I reached the first turn around point I realized the buoy was a milk jug. At first I wasn't sure if that was my destination or just a piece of trash some redneck had left behind from a fishing trip but I saw nothing else so I circled it and headed to the other side laughing a bit to my self.

Even though the kayak portion wasn't my favorite section it did allow me to take an inventory of who and what I was up against. The duo folks skipped the kayak portion and the way the paddle section was set up I had to pass everyone who was in front of me which to my surprise was only 2 people putting me nicely in 3rd.

As I circled the second buoy I watched 2nd place finish his paddle, 1st long gone. As 2nd place climbed out of his boat he made the mistake of just standing there watching two older guys pull his boat from the water. I smiled because I knew I had just a gained a few seconds on him. When I pulled in, I jumped out of my boat, threw off my life jacket, handed off my paddle and took off running all in one swift very uncoordinated motion. I may have looked like an idiot but I was moving and not standing watching. My legs felt like 2 dead weights, I guess the run had done them in and after sitting still in the boat they figured their job was done for the day. Fortunately the run to my bike was short but just long enough to get them awake for the ride.

I felt pretty good considering what I had already achieved and felt I had saved myself for what was my strongest portion of the race. The mountain bike portion of the course was the same as the trail run but 2 laps. It was a short ride but with all obstacles, 7.5 miles was all I had energy for. Within the first mile of lap 1, I passed 2nd place, he was dismounting for a bridge crossing and rather than wait on him I opted to ride across right in front of him adding a bit of salt to the wound I had just opened. After that I never saw him again.

By the end of my 1st lap I felt the cramps setting in on my calves. Every time I tried to jump back on my bike and throw down the power one of my calves would lock up. I was drinking as much water as I could but trying to stay upright on that course and drink at the same time was a chore. In hind sight, I should have put a water bottle in my boat.

I pretty much knew my chances of catching 1st place were slim so I just concentrated on being consistent and having fun. The second lap went by smoothly and was pretty much ridden entirely in the rain.

I held onto my 2nd place finish and was just as happy for the podium spot as I was with myself for finishing.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

short post

A short post today, I have alot to say but sooo little time to say it all. This week and next are ridiculously busy for Melinda and myself. We spent the entire weekend in VA. courtesy of Andy and Abby, thanks for the hospitality guys!

Saturday I entered my first ever Triathlon which turned out to be a huge success for me personally. The weather was a total washout and if I had to guess the rain scared off some of my competition allowing me to squeeze in a 2nd place finish. The race was a 3.5 mile trail run, kayak and 7.5 mile mountain bike ride, the longest and most technically difficult portion was the mountain bike section which was my strongest suit, win win for me! The course was wet slick and kinda reminded me of a cyclocross race with all the dismounting and running I did. Staying upright on the bike was a challenge.

I actually filmed the entire race with my GoPro but haven't a had a chance to view any footage, hopefully the wet conditions didn't ruin it but we'll see. It may be next week or the week after before I get to have a look at it.

Sunday I was really feeling the effects of the run and ride in my legs, I actually had a hard time with stairs. I wasn't thinking about the Bays race and how sore I might be after the Tri and I had a feeling on Sunday my chances of making the race were doomed, that and throw in a full workday/workweek to the mix. I hoped for the best but my workday yesterday was not as low key as I had hoped, I decided last minute to skip the Bays race and rest. I did the same last year and regretted it but it meant burning vacation to do the event and I just couldn't afford it. Once again I'm regretting not going but sometimes you can't be everywhere and do everything. Maybe next year

More to come on the triathlon as I find time.....

Thursday, July 14, 2011

I might be crazy for not running the Crazy

Decision made, the Crazy 8's race will go paid for and un-run for me. I hear rumors that this year the race shirt will be of the Dri-Fit variety so I may swing by and grab mine since I paid for it. The rumor might be a lie or in true Crazy 8's t-shirt fashion it might be a Dri-Fit with a ridiculously ugly picture on the front ruining it but I'll take that chance.

The Crazy 8's race is cool and dumb all at the same time, cool because it's freaking huge 3000+ runners, at night, streets lined with water hose armed fans cheering you on the whole way for who knows what reason. Dumb because it's so huge it draws crazy fast Kenyans and runners from all over the country who get their trip paid for just because they're stupid fast. They make us hillbillies look like a bunch of just off the couch fat kids.

So tomorrow I'm loading up the fat tire bikes, kayaks and my trail running shoes in favor of the Bark Camp Triathlon, part of the Mountain Empire Challenge series. My first ever triathlon and race in the kayak I don't expect to be anywhere near the podium but I do think it will be a ton of fun. Neither the run or kayak portion will be my strong point but hopefully I'll make up a couple places I might have lost during the first two phases in the mountain bike ride. Luckily for me my strongest point of the race comes at the end and is the longest.

After planting the seed over a couple of beers last weekend Andy went ahead and took it a step further to enticing me into this mess by planning a whole weekend of shenanigans. Friday we'll pre-ride the race course, race Saturday then stick around to take advantage of the rest of the trails and the lake. That evening he's firing up the grill while we down some canned refreshments, cans because the BB guns will be running HOT.

Sunday the plan is to head up to the Breaks Interstate Park for some more singletrack action. I've never ridden there but I'm always game for exploring new trails and the blackberries are in season so trailside snacks might be abundant.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

decisions, decisions

A few months ago Melinda bought me a cool sticker pack from Niner. It had a ridiculous amount of "Pedal Damn it" and Niner logo stickers. I stuck them on everything I thought would look cool and still had several left over. I put the left overs in the bike room sticker bin and every once in a while when I have a good idea I use one. I have several bike bells laying around the house so I cut one of the Pedal Damn it stickers to fit the inside circle of the bell and it looked great, almost like I had purchased them from Niner. Of course I posted a pic or two on the blog and Facebox and it caught the attention of my friend from down under, Iain. He was very interested in one and asked where he could obtain one. I told him I had made it and unfortunately weren't available through Niner.

Every once in a while Iain purchases one of the t-shirts I create through our local mtb club and with the steep shipping costs I figured the least I could do was make him one and stick it in with his t-shirt. I sent him a note and told him the only thing I required for the bell was some pics of the bell adorning his Niner out on some Aussie singletrack. He obliged and every now and then he sends me a few which I thought I would share.

They're a bit small as I'm still trying to work out the tech features of the iPhone. More to come as I learn how to use this thing.

It seems there may be a shake up in this weekend's shenanigans. I've been alternating my rides with runs in an effort to build somewhat of a running base so I don't totally suck at the Crazy 8's 8k taking place next weekend. Last night at Stir Fry over a couple of beers, Andy of all people talked me into a triathlon that same day. I've never done a triathlon but I've wanted to since my attempt at the Steele Creek duathlon. The thing that peaked my intrest about this one is this one is completely off-road. It begins with a 5k trail run, a kayak portion on the lake and finishes with a 10 mile mountain bike ride. I have been doing all three this summer so I think this could be doable for me. The only issue is that this race conflicts with the Crazy 8's 8k which I paid up for. I'm really leaning hard toward the triathlon since my Crazy 8's registration is lumped into a package deal with two other races. Skipping the 8k won't really hurt me financially since the group rate saved me alot of cash.

Doing both races in one day is out of the question for me. I have all week to think on the issue as there is no pre-registration for the triathlon that I know of. One cool thing would be if I wore the Hero cam during the race. Catching footage of the run, paddle & bike would make for a pretty cool video, something I've been lacking this year.

Friday, July 8, 2011

putting the new bling to the test

Not having ridden the JET since our trip to FATS I was pretty anxious to get out to Warriors and put the new fork and wheelset to the real test. I'm talking the sweet rooty & rocky mess that we call home at Warriors Path trails. FATS was great fun but I knew to get a real feel for how well the new bling worked I needed to really put it to the test and Warriors has just about everything I needed for just that.

I posted up just about everywhere I could think of, Facebox, NTMBA forum and shot out emails trying to round up a few fools who might be interested in riding with me. I got a couple of bites and when I rolled into the parking lot I was excited to see it was packed.Unfortunately they weren't there to ride, it was packed with a bunch of trail runners trying to take over.
As we descended Darwin's down to the lake we hit some of the better rock sections full of small drops, tight turns and plenty of knar to keep me on my toes. I think if the fork did anything for me it boosted my confidence and I found myself pushing the bike a little harder than normal. It soaked up the bumps and held it's line well.

Not only was I testing out a new fork and wheelset, I was running a new set of tires. I shredded one of the Bontragers at FATS and I knew they had seen their better days. I've recently acquired more 29 tires than I have wheels to mount to them to so I decided to pull a couple from the stash downstairs in the bomb shelter. I mounted up a Geax Saguaro on the rear and a Bontrager Jones XR on the front and have no complaints about either one. They both performed great.

I snapped a few pics of the JET and the tires last night after I got home but I can't upload them yet or at least don't know how to yet. My Android phone had seen it's better days with a nice spider crack across the entire screen. I finally broke down and scored an iPhone but I've used Google's Picasa photo storage for so long I'm not sure what to use for online photo storage with the new phone.

Monday, July 4, 2011

FATS Part 2: the picture essay

Sorry for the delay for those of you who were waiting patiently for more FATS details. This one is picture heavy.

I think this trip was one of Melinda's better rides, she rode for 5 days straight without much of a complaint. Having the summer off has really helped her fitness. I rarely had to wait on her as she was riding like a champ all week.

We didn't take a whole lot of pics of the trails mainly because they weren't very scenic. Everything looked pretty much the same but we didn't really go for the scenery and there was plenty of that at our campsite. I think this shot was from the Great Wall trail which was one of my more favorites, mainly because it had the most rocks.

The sunset views from our campsite were amazing, we sat at the edge of our site just about every night thankful that the temperatures were going down with the sun.

We had a pretty nice section on the beach all to ourselves, for a lake beach I was really impressed.

Evidence that there were some pretty good sized catfish to be caught in the lake. This one is for you Dustin.

We usually waited until after sundown to grill our dinner. It was really too hot to do it any other way. Melinda came up with some really awesome meals that week.

If you haven't noticed I was a bit lazy and these pics are in particular order. This trail was named Big Rock, and this small section of "big rocks" were the only rocks on the trail.

We saw several of these big guys, or should I say girls, along the trail on our last day. They were laying eggs and why they picked such a close proximity to the trail I'll never know.

Brown Wave sign, the local club did an excellent job of pointing riders in the right direction. The maps sucked but really weren't necessary due to the excellent sign system.

We found this cool firetower on the "Tower trail", there was no access to the stairs so we couldn't climb it but there was a burnt out couch sitting underneath it.

Since I couldn't climb to the top I did the next best thing I could think of, hang upside down from the perimeter fence meant to keep people out. I guess somebody didn't like that as there was a huge hole in the fence. Maybe the folks who cut open the fence were the same people who brought in the couch, kind of as a middle finger to "the man".

Moonshine has always been the swimmer of the kids, Jackson will do nothing more that wade around.

Moonshine, for a while has had an affection for fetching rocks. Since I forgot the tennis balls we opted for throwing rocks for her.

She may not have always retrieved the same rock I threw but she almost always pulled something off the bottom.

A few time I threw the rocks in water too deep for her to touch and at first it frustrated her.

But then she figured out she could dive down and retrieve them. I've never seen a dog dive from a stationary position especially not Moonshine but she got pretty good at it and entertained us for quite a while.

I might have some more in a couple of days or maybe I'll find something else to ramble on about.

Friday, July 1, 2011

FATS: part 1

Melinda and I just returned from a 6 day trip to FATS in South Carolina. FATS (Forks Area Trail System) is an awesome trail system that is about 20 minutes north of Augusta GA. The campground we stayed at was actually in GA but only a 10 minute drive from the trailhead in SC. We left last Saturday with plans to stay through Thursday but we ended up staying an extra day because we were enjoying ourselves a little too much. We rolled into our drive 2 hours before I had to be at work this afternoon so I didn't have time to sort through any photos for your viewing pleasure.

First up I got the JET rolling with all of it's new bling the Friday before we left.

The new Fox fork was finally mounted once the wheels came in, all in white. Stan's ZTR Arch rims with Sram X9 hubs. I also scored a new to me drivetrain, not that it needed it but the deal was too good to pass up. With the new fork, wheelset and drivetrain the JET felt like a totally different bike. I had so much fun riding it that the only time I rode the AIR9 was to run the trash to the dumpster. I put somewhere in the neighborhood of 75 singletrack miles on the JET and it felt awesome!. It's amazing what a tapered steer tube and thru axel can do for a bike, not to mention a wheelset that's not bent all to hell. It's been a while since I've had a bike with a granny gear and I'll admit I'm scared it might make me a little soft. The only thing I'm disappointed in is the fact that the new chain guide system I installed a while back had to come off but the alternative is worth it.

So about the trails, FATS is like a giant roller coaster or pump track I guess you could say. I'm pretty sure it's mostly machine built with very little in the way of roots and rocks. There isn't much in the way of big climbs either, it's all about big swooping fun. Even though the trails are smooth enough for a beginner to ride with ease it would still be easy to get yourself into trouble by flying off the trail with too much speed.

One of the more popular trails, "the Brown Wave", properly named for the feeling of surfing on the bike. This was one of our favorites and one of only two that we rode more than once. I had read several articles on this trail and it held up to all of the hype and praise, I wish we had a Brown Wave nearby.

The only thing FATS lacked were technical sections, after 2 or 3 days of riding I started wishing for more rocks and roots. Although FATS was a total blast to ride I could see myself getting bored after a while if I was a local. I cleaned every trail in it's entirety at FATS the first time I rode it. I can't say that about some of my local trails. The one thing that does make riding FATS tough is the heat, it wore us down faster than a 6 mile climb. You couldn't escape it, Melinda and I were both carrying water bottles specifically just for pouring on our heads during the ride by the end of our trip.

Our campsite was one of the nicest I've stayed at in a while, we scored a sweet spot with plenty of room right on the lake. We could of easily fit two tents and two more cars in with our camper and they had much bigger sites. Our entire week consisted of getting up early, eating breakfast and then heading straight to the trails to beat the heat. When we were too tired or hot to ride anymore we would retreat back to camp, eat lunch and then head to the lake with a cooler of beer and the dogs to recharge. The dogs absolutely loved it, probably one of their favorite trips we've been on.

Unfortunately I didn't get any footage with the GoPro, I decided to wait until I got a better feel for the trail system the first couple of days before filming. Once I knew my way around and what was worth shooting I ran into a dead battery problem. I'm not sure what happened, I charged them all before I left so it's a mystery. I'm sure we'll be back for more later this year or next so I'll give it another shot then.

too be continued......