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......

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