I decided (or was talked into) doing a MTB race held on the trials of the Nantahala National Forest in the mountains surrounding Fontana Village in North Carolina. I have done this race before and know that it is one of the hardest race courses the southeast has to offer. The trail is very tight, has many exposed roots to contend with and some sections are hard to even walk let alone ride so I knew before hand that it was going to be a long/hard day but I live for those days (2 IM’s, 4 24hr MTB races yadayada..).
We headed out of Atlanta at 6am, my buddy races in the expert class and is very strong. He used to race semi-pro but got married, had a kid and now devoriced. He is back training/racing and normally finishes in the top 3. We got to the race venue in plenty of time to do a pre-ride of the course in order to see what was in store. As we ventured out on the course I noticed that the trail was not very rider friendly, tight off camber single-track with exposed roots that make it very hard to stay on your bike. Well one of those roots took me down and I went down hard… I not only broke a spoke when my rear derailleur went into my rear wheel but I managed to destroy the derailleur as well… my race day was done.
We had planned to ride the Tsali trail after our race so I figured I’d shoot over to the local bike shop while my buddy raced and see what I could do about getting my bike fixed. I bought a new derailleur and went to fixin my steed so I could at least ride Tsali later in the day; Tsali is one of my all time favorite trails to ride, it is very fast and the climbs are not too hard so it’s a perfect place for a clyde to get his off-road groove on. After I got done fixin my bike I went to see how my buddy was doing in his race… I got there just in time to see him take the win! We waited for the payout and headed over to Tsali trail and ripped it up big time, I took the lead the whole time and had a blast getting air, floting over root sections and doing what I do best....Ride.
Here are some shots of the overlook…
The funny thing was that I was so much in the mode that the only time I drank was during our brief stop on the overlook. The rest of the time I was busy keeping my head in the game and my buddy off my wheel! Lucky for me he had already raced and that race took some power out of him but then again I did rib him on the 3hr ride home that I was spanked his ass all over the trail!
If you ride off-road or just want to try it go to Tsali and have some fun...
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