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Potto Fest! -- 25th Anniversary

November 02, 2009


I rode the Potto Fest, my first "real" mtbike ride in years.

The Potto is ranked 68th best trail in the USA. It's 16.5 miles and is an Expert loop.

20 or so riders showed up. No fee, no permit. The weather was perfect. Cool and sunny, 40'sF. Several ladies. Several singles (speeds). (The previous day -- wet'n'rainy -- was the PSSWC.)

The group seemed fast to me but it stayed together with different folks leading various sections and several rest / re-groups at scenic overlooks.

So...mtbiking is pretty neat! I got some flow going. Lots of steep hills and rooty-drops with 2 wheels in the air (whee!) and banked bermshot curves and dyno s-curves. Babyheads. Loose stuff. Hardpack. I was going about as hard as I could -- and still enjoy the scenery. Every time the trail got fast and technical the riders ahead of me would disappear from sight until I could get a bit of hammering in. Basically, whenever there was some real mtbiking they'd take off like greased lightning. I'm thinking they were powering thru corners that I was hanging on for dear life in. I was never in my big ring. My bike didn't break but it seemed like a rattley tank (I know a guy who wants to unload his unused Trek Fuel...). My old minisaddlebag did burst its seams, almost entirely -- man, mtbiking is a TEST of equipment! Especially rigid (or semi-rigid).

I used my 20-year-old MB1 with sus-stem/post. Plus my 30-yr-old Autumn Sport Ensemble. So I might've had the oldest rig. But there were a couple other rigid bikes and several ye olde Merlins and a couple other steel bikes. Saw a Curtlo. And a Univega! (But he was doing his own loop.)

My bike was pretty darn harsh on those roots and rocks. I'd like to try a sus bike. I never used my bar-ends either -- maybe that's a pound of weight I don't need.


But it's not about the bike. When the riders in front of me took off every time the going got good it didn't matter what they were riding or who they were. There was steel and rigids and full-sus and singles -- no fixies that I noticed -- and guys and gals -- they all could turn it on and leave me in the dust. Ah, but when it was dull and straight I could hammer back into contact. Of course they weren't going hard to begin with -- just festing along with a good flow. It would be a nice flow to get more familiar with sometime!

I had a fun chat with a guy who asked if I was wearing some kind of paddling helmet. Another guy said "Just a note -- you're supposed to get a new helmet every few years." You mean, not every few decades? I got to be a bit of an ambassador when another asked "So what's cyclocross?" It was a diverse, friendlybunch, of all ages, with some beginners, too.

And the trail is spelled Poto nowadays. But the Potto Fest harkens from the, like, late 80's when it wasn't even a real or "legal" mtbike trail yet and it was spelled Potto by the local yokels. They didn't have a race back then, just a Fest. So it was the 25th Fest anniversay. (Um, I think I last rode the Potto trail back about then, but I've skied it recently!) It hasn't been held in a decade because another fest kind of took over that slot.

John Rutherford (MMBA's "RadNord") of the local Jiffy Mix company was the oldtime host and he hosted it again. Prizes for wackiness and crashes: Jiffy Mixes and fancy beer. Can't beat it! Plus plenty of parking lot beer and brownies. (Thanks, John!)

I won for "best sox." No one mentioned the remnants of my Halloween steampunk costume: a fancy beard shave and a ToysRus Mauri neck tattoo. I guess it goes with the territory! Fest started at 10 am but I was up til 3 at a costume party the night before -- even the folks at the party thought my tribal tat was real and just happened to fit with the costume... They couldn't know that medicine man gave it to me in an initiation ritual when I time-traveled to a pre-historic Pacific Island...

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