As the daylight gets longer, and the birds come out to chirp, I know it is becoming travel season for the sales team here at Salsa. Being from a territory further south than Minnesota, I start getting itchy to ride come January. But the tundra up here is frozen solid for at least 4 more months. The cure for the common ride itch was for Eric and I to book a flight to Florida in order to visit a few key dealers and ride some primo trail.
We flew in and out of the land of Disney. Being winter in Florida, kids and families were flocking into the mecca much like we were. On the tram to the rental car I saw a gator sunning on the bank. I thought it was a fake to fool tourists, but on the return tram to the airport, he was gone…
The temperature was awesome, 80’s everyday and sunny. The shops were friendly and pointed us in good direction of trail. Most of the mountain bike trails in Florida are built around old strip mines that harvested different types of minerals. The soil was sandy and had rocks sprinkled throughout. One goal I had while riding in Florida was to see a gator. Also being from a more southern territory, I have grown fond of the “Swamp People.” We were pointed to the exact spot where we were told “Big Mama” lived.
These birds guarded the trailhead as if to say, “Enter at your own risk!”
The trail wasn’t crazy. It was much like the other four or five we had ridden. We were told to look for the sharp left hand corner by a swamp, and in that swamp was where Big Mama lived. I was riding the Mamasita and following Eric on a Spearfish 2.
Looks like a sharp left…
More and more Spanish moss hung from the trees as we cruised deeper into the swamp. Eric zipped around the sharp hand left corner and I noticed the swamp’s green protective coating shake. It was Big Mama! I whisper-yelled back at Eric as if not to scare the dinosaur away. We stood there holding our bikes on the edge of the trail and Big Mama decided to measure us up from about three feet away.
"Just a half step back E-Fred…just one more half step…"
I could feel Eric getting more and more nervous as I slid my bike to him and pulled my camera out. I needed one shot. Her snout popped up again about 10 feet away this time. Click, click went my camera, but I was too slow. We waited…nothing. I tossed a stick into the water which only caused Eric to move further down the trail. One more swirl of the green swamp is all she gave us. But I have seen enough TV to know that “She was a big ‘un!”
‘Til next time Big Mama, ‘til next time!
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Justin Julian (Red)
I am lucky enough to be the General Manager of Salsa Cycles. I hail from central Missouri where the hills hide some of the most fascinating treasures. Moonshine being one of them, great singletrack being the second. Bikes have been an important part of my life from the ripe ol’ age of 3. I have raced, rode, crashed and enjoyed motorcycles for going on 34 years now. The bicycle has been a critical part of my motorcycle career (loosely used) in terms of training, enjoyment, rehab, and escape from the day to day. Both of these two-wheeled contraptions are the reason I exist. They are very much part of my life and being. Cycling and motorsports are also a strength and bond that connects my wife and two boys. Live to ride, ride to live!