A bicycle festival with a Southern flair

A bicycle festival with a Southern flair

August 14 2012 | Chris Strout

Thumbs up for Southern Spokes!

There's this amazing moment in the movie "Rad," Saturday night's featured entertainment at the Southern Spokes Bicycle Summit, in which Lori Laughlin's character Christian pulls this incredible stunt in pursuit of love, simultaneously rejecting Bart Connor and proving her love for Bill Allen's character Cru.

In a weekend filled with Carolina barbecue, sweet tea, vinatge mountain bikes and a rocking demo, how can you ask for more than a high school dance performed on a 1980s-era Mongoose?

The event began with a visit to the always-incredible MOMBAT: The Museum of Mountain Bike Art and Technology, housed within First Flight Bicycles in nearby Statesville, NC. Among the hundreds of bicycles spanning the history of mountain biking, we spied some old-school Cane Creek wheels, more than a few brake sets, and of course some of the earliest Aheadsets ever made. And don't forget the bar ends and Onza pedals!

The festival moved to Lake Norman State Park on Friday evening, where new friendships were made and old ones were renewed alongside the roaring campfire. Saturday morning dawned bright an early, a crystal-clear North Carolina blue sky greeting the brands exhibiting in the lower parking lot alongside the Itusi trail system.

In addition to Cane Creek, our partners Salsa Cycles had a full demo truck of bikes; KMC showed off their chains; Michelin tires were well represented; and Singletracks.com and our neighbors Suspension Experts spent the day talking to riders as they cycled in and out of the expo. Even better, it was all tied to a couple of good causes, as the event supported the Tarheel Trailblazers IMBA chapter and Trips for Kids - Charlotte, in addition to having a tent for the Lake Norman Bicycle Route.

The lunch ride to a local restaurant went off without a hitch, and it wasn't until we were breaking down the tents that the sky opened up and we were treated to a righteous afternoon thundershower. The rain couldn't dampen our spirits, though, and we enjoyed a fun evening at the Lake Norman Community Center at the state park before another long night by the campfire. The weekend concluded on Sunday with (literally) pounds of Aunt Jemimah waffles, before a mini-demo in the parking lot (mostly fat bikes, very fun!) and a thorough drying-out.

All in all, it was a great event, and organizers are looking to do it again next year -- we'll be there!

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