Mountain biking Tsali

This past weekend I loaded up the Jamis Exile Single Speed and made the drive North to Almond, NC to one of my favorite Mt biking locations in the South east – Tsali. Tsali is a magical trail system located on one of the most amazing backdrop of The Great Smokey Mountains.

I got there late Friday afternoon, just in time to set up camp before dark. And that’s when the fun started. Hanging out by the campfire catching with friends that I haven’t seen for most of the Hot, Muggy summer we have had in the southeast.

Campfire and Niner single speed at Tsali.

One of the great things about Tsali is the ability to ride straight out of camp and onto the trails!! It is awesome to come back from a ride with perma-grin and pop open an adult beverage, heat up some food, and just hangout and chat about the ride. And fortunately it is cool enough to need a campfire in the evenings. And oddly enough, I just happened to see this picture opportunity pop-up one evening of Tad’s Niner hanging on a hook behind the campfire. We took several photos of this with various amounts of lighting on the bike.

Mouse loop overlook

The next morning we get up, eat, and get prepped to ride Mouse, followed by Thompson.
I honestly can’t remember much about riding mouse – but for some reason I seem to remember everything about riding Thompson, especially the finishing stretch down to the camping area. This is a longer downhill section with just enough twists, berms and turns to keep you on your toes.

Of course, since I brought a good friend who had never been here, I made sure that we got to each overlook. And Lady Luck was on our side as it was a peak leaf viewing weekend at altitudes above 4,000 feet.

The next day we headed out to ride Left loop. This such a great section of easy paced trail that followed along the edge of Fontana Lake. It gets challenging in a couple sections due to the narrow trail along the slate rock.

Lake Fontana, Left loop at Tsali.

From the overlook on the left loop, we headed over to the Right loop. This Right loop takes you from the overlook level back down to the lake level & then back to the Tsali parking lot.

All the trails are quite groomed at Tsali, but what makes them so much fun is the speed and maintaining your momentum on the berms in the corners. Running the Jamis Single Speed at Tsali was Great! I ran a 32×20 gear, and although it seemed a bit on the easy side a couple of places, for several of the climbs I was glad I wasn’t running a smaller cog. Any place that was flat or downhill & straight enough that I wanted more gearing didn’t last long enough to really warrant a bigger gear. And I was surprised to find on the couple of climbs that I had to get off the bike (don’t say walk) was where a rider in front of me caused me to loose momentum or the rear wheel spun out on me.

This wasn’t my first weekend at Tsali, but I think I got much better pictures this time!

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