I’m starting this post with a pretty picture:
Ugh. I have a love hate relationship with new trails. One of my favorite aspects of mountain biking is the exploration. The momentary lapse of reason where you actually believe you don’t live in an overpopulated, overdeveloped wasteland of a city. Okay, that was a little melodramatic. But, in all seriousness, I really like the feeling and experience of riding a new trail system. You never know what you will find around the next turn or over the next hill. So, with that in mind, I decided to try two new trail systems on back to back days. There is a certain sense of accomplishment when riding new trails, as if you have conquered a new beast.
Two things can kill this experience with the quickness, a worthless trail map/directions and a poorly marked trail with multiple intersections. I was lucky enough to experience both at Clinton Nature Preserve. I’m not going to name the producer of the map, or provide a link to the map for a couple of reasons. I truly appreciate what the creator of the map was trying to do, attempting to assist other riders in enjoying an otherwise confusing trail system. Unfortunately, this attempt failed. I also don’t want anyone else to be tempted by this map and have the same experience I did, which was hella frustrating. This trail is very poorly marked, there are a lot of intersections with no indication of which is the correct biking trail, each of which caused me to stop, take out my map, and shake my head for about 3 minutes while cursing. This made for a very frustrating ride. I literally can’t count how many times I stopped due to trail confusion. And while GPS units are super cool, and I do want one myself, the maps generated by GPS units don’t really help the rest of us unless you give detailed, accurate descriptions of where to go at trail intersections, forks, and when riding around in circles on a big slab of slick rock. Clinton Nature Preserve is by far the most frustrating experience I have had on a mountain bike, and from what I have read in a few forums, i’m not alone. What’s most frustrating, is that I think its probably a really cool trail if you knew where you were going and could get a little rhythm. Oh well, I had bad timing. If you ever want to ride the Clinton trails, make sure you ride with someone that has ridden them before and is very familiar with the trails, else it could be an immense waste of time and sanity.
I started a ‘Mountain Biking Georgia’ Flickr Group to see what other people were up to around these parts. As of today I am still the only member who has contributed any photos, but I did get another Flickr member to join the group, and although he hasn’t submitted any photos to the group, he has a cadre of awesome mountain biking pics and videos. Make sure you have some free time before checking out whawh00’s pics.
Faster Mustache is the greatest thing to hit local cycling since sliced bread. Faster Mustache is, as stated on their site: ‘…an independent organization made up of a diverse group of Atlanta residents with one thing in common: riding bicycles.’ That’s pretty much it in a nutshell. Give them your $15 ‘donation’ its a worthwhile cause.
After a few months of lurking I posted to the forums twice in the past week, and both were met with great response and better advice. I even got an email offline from another member with detailed directions to some secret trails, as well as an offer to tag along on some training rides with the FM mountain biking team (thanks Kurt, i’m going to take you up on that).
Check it out, as they say in Chicago, early and often.