Chunked up

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I finally chunked up my tire riding the rocky mountains of Highland Park Resort in Cedartown, Georgia, about an hour out of Atlanta, where I would retire if only the beach was anywhere nearby. Tucked away in the middle of almost Alabama is a private park with two natural terrain motocross tracks and more than 80 miles of marked trails including 40 miles of challenging, one-way, motorcycle only singletrack rated on a 1-5 diamond scale of difficulty with 5D being the most difficult.

My purpose for the visit was some mountainous seat time ahead of the upcoming 48th annual Gobbler Getter Enduro in Alabama on Nov. 6. Driving 7 hours to ride for less than that is part of it. The terrain was unlike anything in Florida and on par with the high desert riding that I did back in Utah, except more wooded and the mountains weren’t as tall. But the trails were just as tough and technical. (We actually came across a 6D trail toward the end of our ride that wasn’t on the map but we decided against it; of course now I’m regretting that decision.)

It was an adventure from the start once my phone decided to go into airplane mode before the Georgia line, so I was literally “off the grid” for the weekend with no check-ins, Snapchat or Instagram stories.

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Georgia

Pulling up to the office at the top of the road, I noticed a sign on the door: “No rain in 90+ days” along with a notice that the upcoming “Zombie Hare Scramble” was cancelled due to “unsafe dry conditions.”

(I learned later that conditions are “super dry and dusty right now, worst it’s ever been!)

Great.

Inside the shop, you can rent bikes and gear for the day, buy parts if your clutch lever snaps off on the first ride (my partner) or a brand new KTM for $10,000+!

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On-the-fly clutch replacement

We found a 3D trail first, number 31, naturally, which was fast and fun. The access road around the trails was not too washed out with random singles around every turn. “It actually flows.” Plus, it was perfect riding weather with temps in the mid-60s when we’ve been used to high 80s.

The 4D and 5D singletrack had lots of awkward, switchback turns that required brake-sliding around hilly corners. Leaves of all colors scattered the trail and remainders of race banners marked the way. I was leading us down one billygoat trail and got going a little too fast and edged up against a hard rut that sent me sailing to the ground in a cloud of dusty silt. When I got up, I looked down to see two bikes on a trail below: one adult and a child. I thought, there’s no way that kid’s riding this trail, which was way more technical and rough than any race would be.

“You OK?” The adult called.

“Got it,” I replied.

Two turns later, a switchback turned me down the trail where we had just seen them and waiting at the intersection ahead was a dad and kid.

After lunch, we took a lap around both of the motocross tracks just to say we did. I didn’t clear anything but a braking bump as one of three motorcycles out there. Most people were out in the woods and, an added bonus: very few quads! The park is definitely geared toward motorcycles, and one solid day of riding there is definitely not enough. I can’t wait to go back.

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Happy faces

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