When Friday afternoon rolled around, I was already beginning to smell the adventure of the weekend in the air. It had been a rough couple of weeks, and getting the last issue out the door and to the printer on time left me yearning for a much-needed escape from the usual bump and grind of the office. Thankfully my release came in the form of the SxS & ATV Roundup event that was held in the blissful and remote mountains of Northeastern Tennessee at the Brimstone Recreation Park. Brimstone, which possesses 20,000 acres of premium off-road heaven nestled in the heart of Appalachia, is one of the most incredible places that you can plant four wheels for adventure riding in the States. I've experienced Brimstone in the past, and it's by far one of the top ride spots in this country for a variety of reasons and I could not wait to set foot and tires back on their trails.
It was late Friday afternoon and ATVR Test Monkey John Jovanavic and I were scrambling to get the loose ends tied up and our machines and gear loaded so that we could head out on the three-and-a-half-hour journey to Huntsville, Tennessee. I actually had big plans for my Arctic Cat Prowler 1000 at this event (being that the Roundup focused mainly on side-by-sides), but it suffered a paralyzing broken axle just days before this trip and I had no replacement parts to get it back on its feet in time. Plan B, we resorted to loading up our sport quads (which is not really a bad plan) and blasted off on our journey north. When we arrived two of GBC Motorsports' representatives and major sponsors of the event, Randy Tsai and Kevin Johnston, greeted us. They generously invited us to share one of the incredible Buck Fever cabins that were about a ten-minute ATV ride to the top of the mountain where all the activities were to unfold for the weekend. The Buck Fever cabins sat in a beautiful valley surrounded by the fast-flowing New River and a view of mountain peaks that were out of this world.
Excited to get our day started, we woke up early Saturday morning anxious to head up to the top of the mountain where all of the ATV and side-by-side activities and events would be taking place throughout the day. But to our surprise, the adventure actually kicked off on our ride from the cabins to the mountaintop. Immediately when leaving the cabins by ATV, you'll cross over old railroad tracks and view breathtaking rivers flowing swiftly over endless large boulders all while twisting and winding your way up mountain roads where the magnificent view of farmland littered with crops and livestock of all sorts takes all your worries away. Both Johnny and myself were soaking up the cool breeze and killer display of nature. If I had not shed my worries and stress beforehand, this serene ten-minute trek through stunning mountainous backcountry most definitely did the trick. As we rode, it was killer just to slow down (for once), take deep breaths, and enjoy the ride for a change.
After the most incredible ride up the mountain, we arrived and were surprised at how many people had eagerly shown up for the festivities. The promoters in conjunction with the Brimstone staff had ceaseless activities planned throughout the day for the attendees such as scenic guided trail rides, a show-n-shine, drag races, a poll bending competition, tractor pulls, and the extremely popular (with the guys of course) "Ladies Dash For Cash." We stuck around to experience some of the events taking place, but honestly John and I just wanted to ride and experience the vast array of trails that meander throughout the 20,000 rugged and mountainous acres of the Brimstone property. Apparently, we were not the only ones with this idea as we came across hundreds of riders who shared in our idea of adventure throughout Brimstone's massive property. Making our ride even more exciting, we ran into Women's racers Jodi and Jesi Stracham and joined up with them for a couple of hours of riding. As you might imagine, the pace quickly evolved from scenic trail ride to blistering fast as I don't think these girls can comprehend any other speed.
As the sun began to crest over the tall pines that afternoon, we made our way back to the events area to check in on the "Lady's Dash For Cash" race, which arguably could be considered the most sought after event of the day. I must confess, it was quite entertaining to say the least. Imagine fifty cash-hungry ladies diving in unison into the rankest smelling sludge-filled cesspool this side of the Mason Dixon. Handfuls of hair were being grabbed-tripping, pushing, and all exiting the opposite end of the pit painted from head to toe with the most unpleasant smelling muck. Jesi Stracham ended up sloshing her way from that competition $1,100 wealthier as she battled hard and was the first to grab the cash (and a few handfuls of hair), but not before GBC's Randy Tsai was tackled and drug in the sludge with her. Heck, I might've dove in myself if I could've won that kind of loot.
Early Sunday morning, we awoke to ground-shaking thunder and an annoying trickle of raindrops. This day would host the first ever "King Of The Mountain" endurance race competition. This six-mile racecourse offered some of the most rugged obstacles that Brimstone's mountainous terrain could throw at the racers. After braving sharp, deep whoops, gnarly boulders, mud holes, large telephone poles, a couple of old junkyard cars, and the nearly impossible-to-pass muddy trails, I thought a more appropriate name for the race would have been "King Of Carnage." Quads spent the first half of this rainy day tackling this near unfeasible course, but by the time the side-by-sides were unleashed, the rain had nearly vanished. Witnessing the quad and side-by-side racers not only destroy their equipment but enduring such a difficult challenge was nothing less than spectacular-and I can't wait to do it all over again next year. Hopefully, we'll see you there.
Size: 19,196 acres
Trails: 70+ trails covering over 300 miles
Location: Huntsville, Scott County, Tennessee
Hours: The Brimstone Area is open 24/7
Address: 2860 Baker Highway
Huntsville, TN 37756
Toll-Free Phone: 1-800-BRIMSTONE
Local Phone: 423-663-HUNT (4868)