2010 Blast - Atlas by Mark

Photos are here.

Saturday was another great day and Mike, Julie, Chris and I chose to go to Atlas.  It was my third trip to Atlas since I’ve been a member but the first time during an open event.  I’d been there on a work day and a club trail ride and found the trail to be a lot of fun and exciting..  My eyes were really opened by the end of the day and I know now why the trail is rated as a 4.5+. 

I found out that during my first two times there Alan and Thomas had really taken it easy, sticking to the easier parts of the trail and watching out to ensure that all of us had a good time and did not suffer any damage.  They had really taken care of all of us that had not been on an extreme trail and had made it an enjoyable ride for everyone without really putting us into harms way.  At the Blast I learned that Alan, Thomas, Walt and Don believe that during the open events people sign up for Atlas because of its rating and they don’t want to disappoint anyone so you are in it for the entire ride.

As soon as we hit the trail we had both front tires off of the ground as did Mike and then Mike landed off the trail with his front axle on a stump leaving him hanging in the air.  As calm as usual Dan simply told Mike to put it in reverse and hit the throttle and Mike was quickly back on the ground.  I think that for most of the day the four of us had our eyes pretty wide as we found areas that were more extreme than the last. 

After about an hour everyone was given the option of who they wanted to follow.  Alan and Thomas were going to a new area that they called the Canyon and which they said was going to be pretty tough.  Walt and Don would lead a second group to the normal “easier” parts of the trail.  Four Jeeps decided to follow Walt and Don and by the end of the day we knew we had made a great decision.

We found some deep sticky mud/clay that seemed to eat a Jeep.  In one “V” notch Chris and I found our Jeep laying on the drivers side with the windshield shaving mud and dirt from the side of the notch as we powered through.  We watched Mike and Julie get through the area and with his windshield down his roll cage shaved the dirt and it all fell into the Jeep on top of Mike,  The Jeep behind Mike took the notch at the wrong angle and ended up on the passenger side.  Walt directed the recovery and Mike helped with his winch.  We then entered an area of mud that ate us all and we all had to winch through it. 

At this point we were in the lunch area and were joined by Thomas, Mark (Overkill) and Dan.  They were the only ones that made it through the Canyon area and they had left Alan behind to help everyone else.  Alan told us all to take a lunch break and he would catch up as he was dealing with a couple of broken Jeeps and some that were stuck.  After a very short lunch Alan called for Thomas, Mark and Dan to meet him at one of the exits and told them to being a hundred foot strap as that was the only way they were going to get everyone else out of the Canyon.

Walt and Don led us further through the trail and the only major excitement we found was some more winching on hills and one of the Jeeps cut a sidewall on a rock on Rocky Road.  By 2:45 PM all of us had had enough fun for the day and asked Walt to take us out, which he did after gently questioning our manhood.  Walt and Don went back to help Alan and Thomas.  Mike and I headed to the carwash and after about $16.00 each we managed to get the mud out from under our Jeeps but the tops looked like we hadn’t even gone to the wash.  The two other Jeeps headed back to Chicago.

I understand that after lunch everyone was removed from the Canyon and went on to further carnage on the trail.  I think that there were a couple of Jeeps on their sides and one on its top and a lot of winching done that afternoon.  I know that Alan, Thomas, Walt, Don, Mark and Dan were about an hour late to dinner and all were smiling.

If I learned anything that day it’s that unless you know what you are doing and have a lot of experience an open event is not the time to decide that you’d like to try a 4.5+ rated trail.  If you do you should be prepared for body damage and ready to work you rear end off.  Thanks to Alan, Thomas, Walt and Don we had a very exciting and excellent day on Atlas and want to thank them for taking such good care of us.  Mark and Dan were there for us also as usual.

Created: 29 Aug 2010