Wednesday, May 29, 2013


If you haven't heard of FATS, well it's time you freakin heard about it.  There is a total of 37 miles of singletrack for one to enjoy, although most tourists (us included) focus their time and energy on the bottom three loops which consist of more "bang for your buck" flow.  FATS is designated as an IMBA Epic trail system, so come on down and check that bad boy off your list.  FATS is located in Sumter National Forest in South Carolina, just over the border from Augusta GA.  From Charlotte it is about a 2.5 hour drive.

I suppose I should give you a head up on the list of characters involved in this ride.  Coming from the Charlotte area we had myself, Good Guy Greg, Tom Tom, TheMutt, and Denis.  From "up north" we had D-Wayne.  And we even had a local in our midst, Dustin Gaddis of Southern Wheelworks.  While the majority of us met up in Rock Hill to form a bike caravan on the way down - making it an easy 2 hour drive together - Dustin was pedaling around the trails we would not ride that day so that he could join us for our adventure when we arrived.

A mile into the trail I already had a question: when are we coming back?  Seriously, just entering the trail system and you knew it was going to be a good day.  For those northerners in the group, kinda had the sense of riding Kingdom Trails... just imagine if all the trails were like Kitchel, Sidewinder, or Webs with just a nice undulating flow and a giant pump track feel.

It was also at this time that we heard the trail had taken it's first victim of the day.  Lunchbox got a flat before he even really got into the trail so TheMutt turned around to help him out - don't worry they would catch up.

About 2 miles later DG stopped to hit up a rock feature and I noticed something.

pretty pink socks*
My rear tire was spewing Caffe Latex and didn't seem to want to stop.  I tried everything.  Of course I held it "spew side down" to try to let sealant pool there.  I tried applying pressure like it was a wound.  I tried creating a nice dirt scab over it... nothing seemed to slow this pin hole from flattening my tire.  My new tire.

Eventually I resigned to the fact that I would have to put a tube in.  So I pulled my Awesome Strap from under my saddle and got to work with my tube.

Me and DG coming to the same conclusion... hole in the tube.
No problem, out of all of us we will have a useable tube!!  Not exactly true.  DG went to grab his spare tube and found a hole in the back holding his tube... and a nice corresponding mark on the tube.  NEXT.  Good Guy Greg threw me his tube, we blasted it with CO₂.  As I was yanking the frozen CO₂ cartridge off my valve stem I slam my hand into my brake rotor... fun.

About ready to set off and it feels soft... maybe I didn't put enough air in it... so I pump the crap out of it.  Off we go.  About a 1/4 mile down the trail and I'm feeling squirrely in the rear.  Yeah... slow leak in the tube.  AWESOME.

I'm not sure how many CO₂ cartridges we went through getting me back to the trailhead (THANKS GUYS!!!) but towards the end I was on a blast of CO₂/sprint my ass off until it was flat again regiment.    We finally got back to the parking lot where DG poured some Stan's into my tire to hopefully set it back up tubeless and be done with this tube nonsense.

Thanks to Tom Tom for documenting the tire debacle both on and off the trail.
We take turns trying to set the bead with a couple different floor pumps, blast a couple CO₂ cartridges in there that almost get it there and nothing.  Finally Tom Tom reminds us that if you take the valve core out it won't impeded the air and a cartridge should be able to set the bead.  BOOM.  It works.  Stan's for the win!!  No further issues for the rest of the ride.

Unfortunately, by this time DG's time to ride has expired, and he has to take off.  We will be back, and hopefully next time there won't be time sucking issues getting in the way.  Who knows, maybe we'll hit up all the trails too!  I think it took over 2 hours to ride the Great Wall and get my wheel handled... yikes.

Back out on the trail we hit up Skinny and Brown Wave.  The trails we awesome.  This is the type of trail that wants you to go fast.  But you have to watch your ass because if you go with the trail blindly you will be in over your head (or way off the trail) before you know it.  I loved Great Wall, despite my tire issues.  Skinny felt like it was a connector between Great Wall and Big Brown.  Big Brown was a roller coaster of a trail.  Fun Fun FUN!

By the time it was all said and done I was HUNGRY.  We loaded up the caravan and headed out to grab some food and brew.  The drive home was a rough one... food coma and a long drive isn't always the best combo, but we all made it home safely.

Prior to heading down to FATS I did receive a little something something in the mail.

I had been bumming a 20t off of TheMutt, so I ordered myself up my own 20t along with a new and improved 18t.  I threw the 18t on for FATS and it was much needed.  There wasn't all that much climbing on the loops we rode so a 20t would have been way overkill.

* Thus far the pink socks have been 0 - 2 between my tire debacle and an endo by Little Miss Sunshine.

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