Nestled in the Midlands of South Carolina between Columbia and Sumter is Poinsett State Park, an oasis that will stimulate your senses with its old growth forest and pine covered floor. The well kept and rather undisturbed park is simply beautiful! The open space and canopy of the forest makes it a tranquil and inviting place for any occasion. For Koala Bottle’s first visit this past weekend, the rolling landscape of the park made for an ideal venue for its foray into mountain bike racing!
On March 3, 2013, Poinsett State Park hosted the Killer 3 Mountain Bike Race, which is part of a 14 race series that runs from March through the month of August. At 6:00 a.m., I loaded the Koala Bottle tent, table, chairs and some prizes for the racers into my car and headed down highway 378 toward Poinsett Park. It was a frigid morning, but the air was still and the sun began to peak through the trees at sunrise. Within an hour of arriving, a mass of cars started pulling in to the parking lot, which became a teeming frenzy of racers as soon as the car doors started flying open. Long lines formed at registration and cyclists were pacing to and from cars, as well as spinning on their bikes around the area, all the while adjusting their bikes and their layers of clothing. There was a noticeable air of excitement for the first race of the season. The overflow of attendance gave the impression that this event has been going on for some time. To my surprise, however, this was only the second year for the Killer MTB race at the park.
Nonetheless, Thomas “Zabo” McCants, the Park Manager, and his crew (Jason, Russ and Kelli) kept the traffic running in an orderly fashion and provided the park visitors with all their needs. And, in doing so, Zabo and his capable crew were all smiles, simply enjoying the fact that cyclists had descended upon their park from a variety of southern states with one objective in mind – mountain bike racing. Not to mention, Christopher Moore and Jeff Duncan operated the registration desk like a well oiled machine. Lines formed quickly and in numbers, but it flowed at a steady pace, not leaving much time for chatter.
This was Koala Bottle’s second year on the race scene and its first mountain bike event. It was truly a pleasure to be invited by Zabo to partake in this event as a vendor. And, I feel ashamed that I have lived in Columbia, SC as long as I have without visiting Poinsett Park. You can bet that I will be going back very soon to do some exploring. It is also worth noting that Poinsett Park sits only 15 miles north of the waters’ edge of Lake Marion.
As I close out the last words of my first ever Koala Bottle blog, I want to say that the multi-loop 7 mile course made for a fantastic spectator venue. There was a steady stream of racers along all sections throughout the morning. Most of all, however, the event was truly enjoyable because the park staff was so cool and accommodating and the socializing around the Start/Finish area with the members of Midlands SORBA made me appreciate the time and energy that is donated to make mornings such as this possible.