The month of May got off to a great start with S&S Trails traveling to Augusta, Georgia for the 2010 International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) World Mountain Bike Summit. Approximately 200 delegates from all over the world converged on the Southeast to learn from each other and ride some awesome singletrack. S&S Trails are corporate sponsors of IMBA, and we’ve attended every biennial summit since their inception in 2000. All the prior summits were held out west or up north (including one in Canada), and this year was the first to highlight trails in the southern region of the US. Since Susan started riding in Florida and has always been partial to the southeast, it was very exciting to have trails and landscapes featured that were quite different from those that were highlighted in the past. The motto for the event was GRITS, Great Riding In The South, and the moniker certainly fit.
One of the nice things about the conference was that several informative sessions and keynote addresses were held during the day, but everything wrapped up at 3pm so we could all go out and ride. And ride we did, on some of the flowiest, most enjoyable singletrack we’ve ever encountered. The name of the game was the FATS (Forks Area Trail System) which is located in the Sumter National Forest in South Carolina, just across the Savannah River from Augusta. The FATS was designed and built through a partnership with IMBA and Long Cane Trails LLC, colleagues of ours who are also members of the Professional Trail Builders Association. The trail is a stellar example of what can happen when a sustainable system is designed on a blank canvas and purpose-built with mountain bikes in mind as the primary users.
The majority of the trail was built with machinery and then finished out with hand tools using a hybrid construction contract similar to how S&S trails prefers to operate. And the machine operators/co-owners of Long Cane Trails are also mountain bike riders, so they know what they and other people like to ride and they built the trails to fit that standard. The constant grade reversals and undulations in the trail not only shed water quickly, they also make the trail a super-fast, fun, and exciting ride that causes people to grin from ear to ear the entire time they’re out in the woods. One of the conference attendees was Hans Rey, a professional rider sponsored by GT Bikes who has ridden trails all over the road. He pronounced the FATS as “the flowiest cross-country trails I’ve ever ridden”, which in our book speaks volumes about how well-done the trails are. Our advice is, if you’ve never ridden the FATS, then you need to get out there and see for yourself what all the fuss is about. And if you have ridden there, you know how much fun it is and you’re probably already planning your next trip back there. Please give us a call and hopefully we can join you! We had a great time at the IMBA summit and eagerly await the next one in 2012. We’ve already put in our suggestion that the next one be held in Wales, hopefully the conference selection committee will agree with us.