Thursday, November 17, 2011

the Fall Festival and the Dirty South

The Fall Festival has come and gone and I'm really glad we made the trip. The guys in the AMBC really know how to do it up big and right. Being situated in a much bigger city definitely has it's advantages. Sponsors, bikes shops that really get involved, members with deep pockets, members with good connections, and of course a ton of volunteer help. We rolled into town early to try and score a good parking spot near the action. We had both dogs with us and we didn't want to leave them in the truck the whole time at a different location. We got lucky and scored a good spot in a field so Moonshine and Jackson could run around a bit. In true, "I'm the queen bee badass" fashion, Moonshine picked 2 fights with other dogs right off the bat. I don't understand why she does it but she's feisty and unfortunately cannot run loose when other dogs are around.

As soon as we got kitted up we headed over to where the mischief was and I could tell by the spread that they meant business. The first thing that caught my eye was the beer trailer with 4 taps. Some of the bike shops showed up with a fleet of demo bikes and I'm pretty sure one of our own got hooked on the 29" wagon wheels when he left his kids bike at the car and scored a Kona 29er with full squish.

We had a huge crew roll in with us, probably close to 15 or more so even if we didn't know anyone we were sure to have a good time. Josh the "Discerning Hobo" had heard how cool it was going to be and traveled all the way down from the northern regions to join us on the ride. Check out his take on the day here. There were 4 different guided rides throughout the "Dirty South" trail system. Me and about half of our crew opted for the big ride, 30 miles. I had a feeling 30 miles might be rough with my lack of saddle time but I went for it thinking I could get myself back if I had to bail.

Just as they called for the 30 miler to started I realized I'd forgotten to put any food in my pack. I raced back to the truck, grabbed a bar and rode as fast as I could to catch up with the HUGE group that was taking off for the 30 miler. I swear there were at least 25 or 30 people in our group, waaaay too many for such a long ride. I knew it would only be a matter of time before things went south. I had a map in my pocket, much much better than the map we had last time so I felt ok about getting split up.

The ride was pretty slow going at first, we would get moving and start rolling fast and then all of the sudden stop at a slightly technical spot. I guess some were in a bit over their head when they picked this ride. I was in the middle of my friends riding so I didn't care, we were having fun. We came upon a newly built section of wooden bridges. This is where things turned ugly, as we approached one of the slightly more difficult bridges, the people who had just crossed it stopped causing the guy who was in the middle of the bridge to stall which was bad, very bad. In what seemed like slow motion he flew off the bridge head first still clipped in. People went running when he didn't get up and luckily for him there was a doctor in the house. We sat there for a good 15 minutes while the doc checked him out and helped him out of the ditch. He came up bloody but conscience and walking on his own. Unfortunately for him his bike was trashed and unrideable. As we got back moving we realized that our group leader didn't realized we stopped and kept going leaving us unguided. I'm not really sure what happened to the people who were behind us but we were officially lost, again. After riding around in circles and taking a few wrong turns we found the sweep guy who we nominated to be our new ride guide. He agreed and we were off like a bat out of hell riding race pace. I should have known better to follow a shop guy on a singlespeed. Luckily for us he didn't leave us to get lost again.

The longer we rode the more of our group we ran across and picked up. Some people we found were just out in the woods drinking beer, not sure if they were originally part of our ride but they were happy to ride with us just the same. Even though the pace was ridiculously fast we did stop alot and for long periods of time. The faster you were the longer you got to rest as we waited on the group to re-group. I'm not sure how it happened but we got hooked up with the guys from the TVB bike shop who could ride, ride fast! One guy in the group was rocking a CX bike and riding all the techy stuff.

At every stop, beers were pulled out of packs and consumed. I had a feeling this might happen and I planned ahead not wanting to be the out of towners mooching free beer. I pulled a pint of the kickin' chicken out of my pack and instantly made a whole slew of new friends. Even some of the kids I ride with who normally pass turned up the bottle. Not wanting to blow chunks knowing the race pace would continue I took it easy.

Beer stop #2, only 4 miles into the ride..... nice.

As we rolled on we hit alot of stuff Anthony, Shane and I missed the first time and some stuff that had just been built. Some really cool bermed stuff, rollers and and an awesome section built almost completely with bridges and elevated structures. It was so much cooler than before and I walked away totally impressed the first time.

We even rode some trails that were not trails yet, just ideas for trails. The corridor had not even been cleared, the only thing we had to follow were the orange pin flags. It was an interesting ride indeed. Some rode it, some tried and crashed and some just walked.

If you missed my last post about the Dirty South ride, let me give you a short run down. The trail system is actually 4 trail systems connected by neighborhood streets and greenways. The first time we rode in and out of trails at respectable trailheads, this time we cut through people driveways and backyards to get there. I'm not sure why we did this but the locals didn't seem to think anything about it and no-one came out of the houses chasing us with shotguns so either it was ok or they weren't home.

I apologize for the lack of good trail photos but the time spent on the trails were spent riding as fast as I could and I didn't have time to get my camera out.

I guess due to the amount of time we spent getting lost, drinking beer and doing whatever, we ran out of daylight before we hit the 30 mile mark. Honestly I wasn't sure if there was really 30 miles to hit without doing some backtracking but we managed to squeeze in somewhere around the 20 mile mark and I was plenty happy with that.

I held onto my new updated "Dirty South" trail map for future rides which I'm totally ready to go back now. Hopefully we'll get down sooner than later and I'll remember my way around and not have to rely on the map so much.

More to come, stay tuned..................

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