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NEWS | Aug. 16, 2013

Biking group stays active physically in the community

By Senior Airman Jared Trimarchi Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

Marrington Plantation, more than 1,600 acres of woodlands on Joint Base Charleston - Weapons Station, has many visitors each year who enjoy hunting, hiking, picnicking, fishing, wildlife watching and mountain biking.

Although there aren't any mountains in the LowCountry, that fact doesn't stop members of the Low Country Fat Tire Freaks from getting on their mountain bikes and hitting the dirt trails in Marrington. The Freaks are a group of 400 riders from JB Charleston and the local community.
"Low Country Fat Tire Freaks is a local group of great people who maintain the Marrington trail system through volunteering," said Tech. Sgt. Nathan Swab, 628th Communications Squadron quality assurance evaluator and LCFTF member. "All of the members love to ride trails, are very friendly and have a passion for the outdoors and helping people. We have members from all skill levels including those who have been riding their whole lives and those who have just picked up the sport."

Off-road biking is more than just a sport for the members of the LCFTF, said Swab. It is a great way to socialize, meet friends and head outdoors.

"I ride the trails because not only is it a great workout, but because it's also a great way to meet people," Swab said. "I have met people who work on the base through this group. I've met countless Sailors, Airmen, civilians and, community leaders."

Keeping the more than 19 miles of trails at Marrington open year-round requires a large amount of manual labor and dedication.

"Quarterly, the LCFTF will get together and help clean up the trail by picking up sticks and loose debris, cutting down roots and stumps and trimming the bushes that overgrow on the trail," Swab said. "Volunteering to keep the trail safe and looking good is a great way to feel you are making a difference in the community."

According to Donn Watts, JB Charleston's natural resources technician and creator of the Marrington trail system, the trail would not be what it is today without the help of the volunteers from the LCFTF.

"The trail is in amazing shape even with all the rain we've had this year because the members of the group are following the rules and helping keep the trails looking nice," Watts said. "Not riding on a wet trail is one of the fundamental rules of off-road biking. This is one of the main ways trails can be destroyed. Luckily we have a group of people who respect each other and want to see the trail being used for many years in the future."

In addition to following the restrictions of not riding on a wet trail, wearing a helmet is mandatory on JB Charleston on and off the trail.

"Even though I wouldn't consider the Marrington trail system to be extremely difficult, wearing a helmet is a must," Swab said. "Even professionals wear helmets. It's a good idea to be protected."

Jon Finney, a resident of West Ashley who has been riding at Marrington for the past six years and is a member of the LCFTF said, "It's a great deal to get to ride the trails on the base. I also enjoy going on group rides with the other members of the group."

The trail system in Marrington is one of two trails in the area and has two main loops: The Red Loop and the Foster's Creek Loop.

"If you are new to trail riding, I would recommend starting on the Red Loop," Swab said. "Join us for a group ride and we are more than willing to show a new rider the proper technique and tips that will help them become a better rider. If you don't own a mountain bike, we can help you find one, or you can rent one from the Outdoor Adventure Center. We are always looking for new members."

For more information or to join the Low Country Fat Tire Freaks visit their Facebook page.