I first started mountain biking when I was 15 (this sounds like a paper for school already) mostly around the Anniston/Jacksonville area in eastern Alabama.
I hung out at Fun Wheels and pestered Jimmy Pettus for bike fixing tips and food. He taught me how to work on bikes and gave me expired Powerbars.
My mom would drive me to the meetings for the NEABC, the Northeast Alabama Bicycle Club. There are some cool trails out that way other than the most popular one of the area, the Cheaha Mountain Express. Mark's Loop, Linda's Loop, Gene's...Iron Legs. I had not ridden out there in years until today. I just didn't feel like it was worth the drive.
The recent addition of some IMBA built trails at Coldwater Mountain changed my thoughts there. I saw Marcus Tillman at the Sunny King Crit and he said the trails were top notch and a must ride. They opened a month ago and me and Tyree were able to make the trip out there this morning to check it out. Here is some information on the trails: NEABC Coldwater Page.
There is a 1.5 mile Beginner Loop which has plenty of places to make a beginner eat the dirt but it was a nice warm up.
The main loop is 9 miles or so I think with about 1100 feet of climbing. The whole trail is just like a giant BMX track...its nuts. The first climb is a biggun, 3 miles and 600 feet of elevation gain. Okay, it is big for Alabama, how about that? Here is a link to the Strava data: Strava for Coldwater.
The downhill afterwards is really the reason to get out to Coldwater. Jeez. I really don't have much to compare it to...maybe lower part of Jekyll and Hyde but trickier. Lots of doubles to hit or manual and fast, fast, fast. I want to ride it some more and learn it better. I predict lots of broken collarbones out there. It isn't a "no brainer" trail. You have to pay close attention. Well, you don't have to. But then you would crash a bunch. Your choice. It didn't seem very bumpy but then again I threw a bouncy fork on for it.
It felt great to be back on a real trail. I'm in pretty shit mountain biking shape right now but that will improve quick since I'm riding again after Kanza.
Coldwater was awesome, if you have not been yet GO.