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As a change of pace from all these races, we had the opportunity to be a part of the Alafia Fat Tire Fest this year, so last weekend we packed up and headed to Lithia for some singletrack stoke. The trail folks there have put in tons of work since we had last raced there for the Alafia Classic back in the spring, and we were excited to see it. The folks at SWAMP had a great event planned, with tons of vendors, demos, group rides, cold beer and good times.
We set up in the Vendor area and got to meet some great folks. Saturday morning started with a great breakfast at the campground and a lot of awesome community time.
Then afterward there was a group ride that went out from Alafia to Balm Boyette trails which I jumped right into. I had never ridden there but heard about how great the system was and had to check it out for myself. If you go: ride Ridgeline. It’s SICK! The trail system is similar in some ways to Alafia but different too, very fast and probably a little more elevation than Alafia but the same kind of clay based dirt that just grips. I was able to ride most of the trails in there, over 20 miles by the time I got back to Alafia and it definitely gave me ideas about a future Alafia-Boyette-Carter epic ride someday.
Speaking of Carter Road, it’s only 15 miles away or so, and there was a Short Track Race there Saturday afternoon, so you know what I did right? Yup! Went and raced that real quick which was tons of fun. Saw all my FSC racing friends, smashed some laps for 20 minutes and ended up just outside the top 10 which wasn’t too bad. Heading back to Alafia the festivities were cranking up, with a group of crazies jumping a HUGE river gap. Fortunately nobody landed short in the gator infested waters, but there were some small (and not so small) crashes which made for a good show right?
There also were several live musicians throughout the event. We didn’t stick around for the evening stuff, but we heard that a lot of fun was had by all who hung out around the campfires and played awesome camp games.
Sunday morning I was able to hook up with Rusty and Mike who I know from the FLE series, they were riding with a buddy who’s birthday wish was to ride 52 miles on his 52nd birthday. I gladly joined them for the first dozen miles.
We whizzed through sections I’d never seen on race day, like Magic Island, Thunder Ridge, Stardust and Shelly’s Loop. Alafia is really an amazing trail system with something for everyone, from chill flat trails through the woods to truly terrifying jumps and drops on the edges of cliffs. If you’ve never been you should definitely check it out, especially with all the great work that’s been done there in the last year. Some of the more extreme sections like the new wooden berms and jumps in North Creek were very popular, with new and experienced riders lining up for a crack at some big air.
All in all we had a great time meeting new folks and riding some of Florida’s best trails. After seeing all Alafia has to offer, I will definitely be back to have fun outside race day (though you won’t see me jumping any rivers).
Check out this sneek peek of all the photos Jemma took and then be sure to log in to check out the full gallery of 2018 Alafia Fat Tire Festival photos. Thanks for reading, friends!
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