Soaking in the South with Maxxis Tires in Northern Georgia at their Appalachian Summit

With a title like that, there isn’t much more to the story, yet there is so much more to the story.

Press camps are fun. Bike launches are fun, yet Maxxis wanted to try something a little different in their recent Appalachian Summit. With the popularity of their tires and only a few new models on the horizon, this “launch” was more of an immersion. Not so much into their product but into the dirt and riding that inspires all their tires, from gravel to downhill, the mountains of Northern Georgia are in Maxxis‘ back yard. PR&D for new tires begins and ends in these mountains. The team of designers conceive of a pattern that would excel in a certain condition, then the product designers work on the tread pattern, samples are made, athletes are seeded these samples, feedback comes in and before too long, a new tire emerges from the already plump lineup. This is all pretty standard for most component companies and honestly, is interesting but the purpose of this press camp was far deeper than that.

Look. The South doesn’t get a whole lotta love. Maybe it’s the wayward political system, or the fact that it’s perceived to be flat. The Appalachian mountains are some of the oldest in the USA, meaning after millions of years of erosion, aren’t as high as the Western US’s offerings but don’t be mistaken. There’s a lotta elevation change happening below the Mason Dixon line.

Mulberry Gap at the Maxxis Summit-79 copy

Our trip began at Atlanta’s airport. Kyle and I flew in, met with other press and got into a shuttle van. We had a two hour drive to the Mulberry Gap MTB Getaway, our “home base” for the weekend. Mulberry Gap began as a women’s retreat, and quickly was converted to a MTB destination after the owners saw all the MTB riders in the area driving in for day use. “The Gap” is nestled in the Chattahoochee National Forest (open to bikes), alongside the Cohutta Wilderness Area (closed to bikes.) The property is right smack dab in the Pinhoti trail system, meaning it’s easy access to MTB riding and as we found, home to some long climbs and ripping singletrack.

Mulberry Gap at the Maxxis Summit-6

Aaron and Helena from Singletracks.com were two of the 40 press members invited to the Summit and they became our riding buddies for the first day’s trek. Maxxis offered up shuttles to service the Pinhoti 1, P2, P3 and other neighboring trails, yet Aaron had created the Brutal Loop, a 35 mile ride with 7,400′ of elevation gain, boasting an 11-mile gravel road climb to the top trail. 11 miles? Yeah, I’m serious. 11 miles of humidity, 11 miles of steep grades and ultimately, gorges views. So when Aaron and Helena asked if anyone wanted to take on the Brutal Loop, Kyle and I were the only ones who raised our hands.

We packed our bags with cameras, food and water before heading out into the mountains…

Mulberry Gap at the Maxxis Summit-24

Six hours later and a dozen river crossings, we returned to base camp to a late, late lunch which turned into dinner and after a hot tub soak, I passed out at 9pm while the rest of the camp raged on til the wee hours of the morning. The remaining days were spent shuttling, trying out new (to us anyway) tires and riding Pivot‘s rippin’ mountain bikes. It wasn’t until the last night at Mulberry Gap that we all realized how much fun we’ve been having and even though our return flights were beckoning us back to responsibility, how little we all wanted to leave. With the cracking of beer cans from the Yeti cooler, we watched the sun set over the mountains and soaked in our list bit of Southern hospitality.

Ripping!

There’s more to come with this story (including some brief bike reviews), so if you’re still reading this, make sure to check out the Gallery if you haven’t already.

  • Noah Lynch

    Another great gallery but what I’m most excited about is you showing Athens,Georgia’s own Terrapin Beer Co. some love!

    • Everyone loved that stuff!

      • Belvedere

        Everything from Terrapin rocks! Best beer I’ve found since I moved here. I’ve ridden Snake Gap, but now I gotta go rip Mulberry. Cheers!

        • HoppyPaynts

          {ahem}… Creature Comforts…

  • Maxwell Merkle

    The Cohutta wilderness is awesome. I’ve spent a good deal of time hiking there. I’m glad that there are some MTB options in the same area. I do hope they are never allowed on the river trails though.

  • Trenton South

    Is it just me, or is the right grip on the middle white bike floating in space in photo #9?

    • Andy Moore

      It’s just you. ;)

  • Hunter Garrison

    Stoked to see my home state and trails gettin some love on the Radavist!

  • KevinDurantSignatureSlushee

    Great feature, but why does the south always need to be prefaced by talking about its flaws? The south is one of the greatest regions for outdoor activities and its normally pretty close to your backdoor. Unfortunately most stories always have to put a little digger in before they even start. Sorry for the rant, it just seems more and more prevalent.

    • mrbiggs

      Well, i mean, come on. Every place has their flaws, but when pretty much anyone thinks of The South, they think of stuff that ain’t so good. Confederate flags, bizarre laws in North Carolina, backward cultural shifts, and so on. The South as a whole has done a better job of presenting their backsides to the rest of the country (and world) rather than the pretty face that is also there. I say this as a native of Arkansas, by the way. I know from where I come. The South is a gorgeous region, but man. Why do they keep farting in public?

      • ben allen

        As a Georgia native, I can assure you that you can find a ‘wayward political system” and “backward cultural shifts” anywhere in America if you look hard enough. Yes, the South is full of all kinds of questionable people and backwards ideas, but it’s also full of interesting, kind, educated, open-minded people as well. The trick is just to come here with an open mind, free of pre-conceived notions and have a good time. 90% of people will have a great time hanging out in Georgia, and 100% of people on bikes will too!

        My $.02.

        Ben Allen
        Atlantan

    • Hey, because when I don’t preface it immediately, people immediately bring it up in the comments and they get out of hand.

      I was raised in North Carolina and dealt with preconceived notions of the South my whole adult life. I love it there!

  • Ryan

    Is it ok that my favorite shot is not of a bike, but of the orange newt?

    • ABW

      Mine too. It’s the red eft stage of the life cycle of the Eastern Newt. They go through metamorphosis similar to how caterpillars –> butterflies. This is the only real land-dwelling stage. After this, they find a body of water, breathe through gills, and spend the rest of their 12-15 year lifespan in water.

  • Nice. Some East Coast love… Mulberry Gap is a fine establishment. #TNGA

  • 27.5+ Minion? I’ll take two!

    • yeah! working on that!

    • Maxxis Tires

      Yeah buddy!! Coming out late 2016 in 27.5×2.80 and 29×3.00 in DHF and DHR II flavors with the normal option of dual-compound or 3C MaxxTerra depending on what kind of terrain you ride.

      • The DHR2 has been my go-to trail tire since it came out. I still have my first review set, and put a pair on my wife’s bike as well. Can’t wait to try the plus version. If there’s 27.5×3.0 in the pipeline, I’d be into it too!

  • Kyle Campbell

    Stoked to see this. There’s good riding (road, trail and otherwise) and good people doing rad shit in the south. I’m glad you guys got to see some of it and hope to see more of this in the future.

  • breed007

    I love finding great, off-the-radar singletrack. Reminds me of discovering NW Arkansas years ago.

  • AdamBike99

    Yes. Yes. YES. The Everything…
    I’m not surprised you didn’t want to leave (humidity be damned) John!

  • Agleck7

    Ironic photo of plus tire washing out

  • Dell Todd

    Oh man such great Pinhoti memories of my family’s spring break at Mulberry Gap one year ago! It’s great to see these fine people and their establishment getting their due. Their trail system is fabulous and oddly empty. You ride up a lot of these trails then pick your own turnaround point, or sometimes find the end before you 180. some of these trails are hundreds of miles long and appropriate for through riding, bikepack style. Then you rage directly down what you’ve just ascended, while the turns are fresh in your mind which is fun. Also you can find some great loop rides. The trail which descends through the rhododendron forest with many stream crossings is pure fun! I didn’t realize the Cohutta is right there too. I better sign up for that one and get back down there. No scary hillbilly problems, but the drive in off 75 was full sketch in our old RV. We took the google maps “shortcut” via Chatsworth which was a total thrill ride (not in a good way) but would have been fine in a regular car type vehicle. Get down there!