Appalachian Off-Road Tandem Adventure (AORTA) 2010 took place in Asheville, NC over the weekend of May 21-23. Organized and promoted by Alex Nutt of MTB Tandems (www.mtbtandems.com) the event brought together tandem mountain bike teams from across North America to tear-up the singletrack of Bent Creek Trails.
With over 30 tandem teams in attendance including guest star Sherwood Gibson, of Ventana Mountain Bikes fame, the large group made a real impression on the locals. Covering a combined estimated total of over 1000 trail miles the teams enjoyed comfortable weather and tacky trails. Bent Creek Trails combines excellent singletrack and gravel road connectors to challenge the assembled teams with technical descents and aggressive climbs.
Alex brought along several demo tandems from Ventana and Fandango including some new 29’er models. Riders that test rode these new rigs dismounted them very impressed and often with a new excuse to upgrade the old ride. With Mr Gibson on hand to provide insights into the design process and technical characteristics of the various tandems available, no questions went unanswered.
Official rides kicked off Saturday morning with a group ascent up the Rice Pinnacle fire road where the teams eventually split up for various routes. Lunch was provided at the NC Arboretum in a designated room with magnificent views of the lush hills; the clean facilities were a definite contrast to the dirt and sweat covered tandem teams. After lunch rides were muted versions of earlier loops with the teams fending off fatigue to enjoy a few more miles of singletrack.
Following quick showers and lite naps the teams re-assembled for a catered backyard BBQ at the offices of Carolina Farm Credit. The friendly atmosphere and jovial mood made for a wonderful evening with newly found friends and old acquaintances alike. TandemBicycling.com used the occasion to introduce newly released tandem jerseys (see them here) by presenting them as raffle items in association with a number of excellent door prizes provided by Alex of MTBTandems.
Sunday morning opened with beautiful blue skies and comfortable temperatures. The tandem teams were treated to drier trails and excellent conditions to close out the weekend of riding. A weekend with AORTA really touched the heart, if you will excuse the pun. As we reflect back, the entire event reminisces of the early years of mountain biking; back when NORBA was independent and events were about fun. A weekend in Asheville on the Bent Creek Trails was a magical experience for all in attendance.