Trails 20 & 21: RAMBO Mountain Bike Trails

RAMBO is the Roswell Alpharetta Mountain Bike Organization and as far as bike club acronyms go, this is one of my favorites. The club is best known for the trails at Big Creek where there’s miles of singletrack, a short downhill course, and even a new pump track. But RAMBO also builds and maintains the trails at Central Park in Cumming which was my next stop after Dawson Forest on Saturday.

Central Park is located less than half a mile from GA 400 which makes it super accessible. I stopped off at McDonalds on the opposite side of the interchange for two Egg McMuffins and promptly ate them both in the car during the 3 minute drive to the trailhead. Navigating the ball fields and ocean-sized parking lot I located the kiosk with a map of the trail and a sign indicating that the trails were in fact open.

The 3-mile-ish bike trail loop is directional based on the day of the week. This is a great idea in my opinion – it allows riders to go faster, without fear of encountering traffic traveling the opposite direction and it also allows the trails to “wear” in both directions, minimizing certain types of trail damage. The only thing that bothers me is that many clubs choose to alternate based on the day of the week rather than odd/even days. Signage is more confusing (Tue / Thur / Sat and Mon / Wed / Fri / Sun, for example), riders who can only ride certain days of the week are stuck riding the same direction every time, and the trail still gets uneven wear and tear (one direction is theoretically ridden 15% more than the other direction). In my opinion the odd/even system is tops but then again I’m no trail management expert.

The main loop started off fast but within the first mile or so I found myself riding in mucky, orange clay. I slowed my speed and tip-toed through the mud to avoid damaging the trail in the lower sections and at the powerline I chose the “moderate” trail which was in much better shape. Emerging from the section beside the highway I missed the turn back across the powerlines and ended up riding a utility easement for about half a mile before I realized I was off track. Back on the trail I found a newly flagged and raked section that was twisting and fun.

At a couple points along the trail I noticed signs directing walkers and runners to stay off the trail. These days trail running is becoming more and more popular and this was the first time I had seen a trail that was closed to runners. Guess it’s time for trail runners to organize their own work parties. 🙂

Big Creek

I started riding Big Creek about 12 years ago and in those days we called it “Mansell” since we accessed the trails from an office building parking lot off Mansell Road. The trails were rough then – completely unofficial – but it was the best riding close to my parents’ house in Alpharetta. Even in those days there were a few bridges and some downhill trails running straight down the steepest slopes and we always had a blast riding there.

Today the trails are completely legit with excellent signage and are rated from beginner to most difficult. These trails are also directional by day and to ride all the singletrack you’ll need to traverse some sections more than once. Along the backside I found fresh singletrack winding its way to the top of the DH gully run which was a nice surprise.

Heading back to the (completely packed) trailhead I passed by the pump track which was closed for the winter. It was great to see so many different types of riders here – from newbs to weekend warriors and from spandex-wearing XC dudes to DH adrenaline junkies. RAMBO has created a special place in the ‘burbs for everyone to enjoy, a model for communities around the southeast and beyond.

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