The temperature was just above freezing and the warmth of my breath formed a vapor trail as I finished packing the car at 5:30 a.m. It was a chilly spring morning. With two mountain bikes and the Koala Bottle trade show tent strapped to the roof, we pulled out of Columbia and drove into the South Carolina countryside heading to Poinsett State Park for the first race of the Southern Classic MTB Series.
When we turned off Route 261 and rolled into the park headquarters it was evident that this was going to be a spectacular day for mountain bike racing. The trails were in immaculate condition, as always, and the sun was creeping over the horizon, throwing shards of light through the tree tops onto the forest floor. As we unpacked the car, a light breeze was pushing the fog across the pond and the spring morning was slowly warming.
By 7:30 a.m. cars were steadily filling the parking lot and cyclists were strolling over to check-in with Mount Pleasant Velo. Those who stayed the night in the park campgrounds and cabins seemed to ease over to the registration tables with a little less urgency.
At 9 a.m. the first group lined up at the start line. Each rider had that long vacant anxious stare that came with knowing the cow bell was moments from sounding. They were minutes away from the first race of the season, and they knew they were racing The Knot, a trail that tests even the most able riders. Those who were merely soaking up the gorgeous spring weather strolled over to our booth to check out Koala Bottle’s products.
When the racing was over, we pulled the bikes off the roof. It was too beautiful in the park to leave without pedaling through the woods. Our first stop was the Look Out where the tree tops of Congaree National Park can be seen sitting miles away in the distance. After taking in the gorgeous vistas we headed over to the Cowasee and the Whippoorwill. Rolling through these undulating trails was the perfect ending to a fabulous day.