Riding these trails feels not unlike riding a forested roller coaster
I cut my teeth mountain biking on the exposed high-desert and slick-rock trails in Fruita, Colorado, the kind of trails that also make Moab, Utah famous for mountain biking.
But FATS, just a half-hour drive from downtown Augusta, offers something special, an altogether different experience of riding seamlessly through the shaded Sumter National Forest, a few steps removed from the din of roads and familiar day-to-day life in the metropolitan area.
If you are not into mountain biking, FATS is also a great place for hiking or trail running. With the forecast promising better weather after an apocalyptically hot summer, it’s an ideal place to go if you want to get outside and enjoy the abundance that fall weather offers.
I rode out there with Randy DuTeau, now Vice President of Strategy and Development at Sports Strategies and a former elite road cyclist.
He’s been riding FATS officially for ten years and also rode the trails that were already here just before it was developed as one of the first purpose-built trails made specifically for mountain biking.
That it was designed specifically with mountain bikers in mind is what makes FATS such an enjoyable riding experience for novice and experienced riders alike.
For Randy, he tells me, “it really is about the flow. I love mountain biking, but I’m not a good technical rider.
I can enjoy the Zen of mountain biking without the fear of stacking it on some overly-technical obstacle. It’s just a great place to find a rhythm and a roll.”
This “flow,” a familiar praise word in mountain biker lingo, is one of the most remarked upon and enjoyable things about these trails.
In a sport that can feel burdensome when you have to stop or dismount a lot over technical terrain, FATS offers trails that make mountain biking fun.
Riding these trails feels not unlike riding a forested roller coaster: over the rolling hills it’s easy to maintain speed, there are few sharp turns or overly technical aspects, and the climbs are manageable when not effortless.
The Flow Master 3 mountain bike race taking place at FATS on Saturday, October 19 gets its name from this “flow.”
Drew Jordan, owner of Andy Jordan’s Bicycle Warehouse, started the race with Paul Farrow as a way to raise funds to maintain FATS, which suffers wear and tear due to foot and bike traffic and weather.
All of the proceeds from the race go towards maintaining the integrity of the trails, a feat undertaken largely by volunteers with the nonprofit Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association, or SORBA.
In the last two years combined, the race has raised nearly $14,000. This year Drew expects to raise at least as much as the $6,890 they raised last year.
Since the Flow Master 3 is predominantly a fundraiser, the race is designed to be fun for serious racers and noncompetitive riders alike.
Drew likens the field to “a mullet—business in the front and party in the back.”
There are good prizes at stake and there will be some healthy competition for those who want it, but you do not have to be a serious mountain bike racer to compete.
Visit AndyJordans.com to register or donate. The race is capped at 150 riders and the deadline to register is Thursday, October 17 at 1pm.
If you choose not to participate in the 20 mile race, it’s a fun spectator event watching some of the area’s best riders competing for the coveted “Flow Master” title at FATS, one of our area’s best assets.
Katelynn Bell is a former high school English teacher and a freelance writer. She lives in Augusta, GA with her dog Parra