Mountain bikers were rolling into Anniston Friday as the the three-day Coldwater Mountain Fat Tire Festival kicked off. The streets surrounding Zinn Park were full of out-of-towners looking to ride on the well-regarded trails of the mountain that looms over downtown Anniston.
The festival, in its third year, is a glimpse of what community leaders hope will deliver an economic win for our community as cyclists bring their bikes and their wallets along, too.
So, what’s the draw? We asked bikers to describe what makes Coldwater Mountain’s 35 miles of trails so appealing, or for a few newcomers, what they expected. Here are their answers.
Matthew Aires, Orlando, Fla.: “I came up for the Fat Tire Festival last year and we had a good time. So, now we’ve got a huge group -- there’s probably like 12 of us from Orlando who came up, and that might be conservative. ...
“Coldwater Mountain is a project that the International Mountain Biking Association helped with. They came in and built just beautiful manicured trails, so I mean you have just some of the best riding around right here, and it’s amazing.”
Aubra Doss, Anniston: “Respect the mountain. I always tell people ride within their limits. If they feel they’re getting too sketchy, slow down. ...
“It’s a very unforgiving mountain if you get ahead of yourself. Otherwise it’ll be one of the best rides you’ll ever have.”
Marcus Tillman, Anniston: “It’s like a giant, dirt roller coaster with some rocks scattered around … You basically have a well thought-out climb, where you’re climbing; you’re up and down just like a roller coaster would be. And then you reach the top, so, as long as you’re fit enough to get to the top, you’re going to enjoy the downhills that are going to follow.”
Mark Taylor, Tuscaloosa, a first-timer to Coldwater: “I don’t know what to expect. I know it’s going to be fun. Should be a good bunch of people.”
Jim Martin, Warner Robins, Ga.: “We had some friends in our club who were here last year, and they talked us into coming this year. I’ve never been here. I hear the trails are nice and flowy. Just looking forward to riding the trails, so hopefully it doesn’t rain.”
Chad Edwards, Madison: “I come down and ride the trails as often as I can. ...
“The trails here are great. You’ve got a great variety of flowy, smooth downhills. Some technical spots, enough climbing to keep you honest and all that and just a great variety of terrain.”
Amie Hinton, Anniston, the Fat Tire Fest’s director: They are “just super flowy and fun,” meaning “you may go up some but then you’re going to go down and around, like curves and berms. So just get a lot of the adrenaline fun.”
Natalie Couch York of Choccolocco: “It is a magical urban escape. So, yeah, I view it from a technical and a spiritual standpoint. Technically, it’s really close to the city but once you’re there you feel like you’re really far away. And it’s an escape in the middle of the woods. … It’s rocky and it’s beautiful.”
Bob Davis is editor and publisher of The Anniston Star. Contact him at 256-235-3540 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: EditorBobDavis