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Suwannee Fat Tire Bicycle Festival Returns

Fat Tire Fest photo from prior year. -Photo courtesy of the Suwannee Bicycle Association

By Jeffry Boatright

The upcoming Suwannee Fat Tire Bicycle Festival in White Springs is certain to combine multiple facets of pleasure into one North Florida event. The festival, which is slated to kick off on October 19, is one of several exciting events that is presented annually by the Suwannee Bicycle Association (SBA).

According to SBA Board Member and Event Coordinator Sharon Shea, the Suwannee Fat Tire Bicycle Festival is a signature event for the SBA and draws participants from all over the southeast. One of the oldest festivals of its kind in the region, the Suwannee Fat Tire Bicycle Festival has been going strong for over two decades. While the ever-present joy of mountain biking through the trails and woodlands of North Florida is ample reason to register for the event, a host of additional activities certainly offers additional motivation to participate in this year’s festival.

In addition to the opportunity to ride over 50 miles of trails through the woodlands that run along the banks of the Suwannee River, there will be opportunities to ride down some of North Florida’s most picturesque country roads. The road riding features scenic roads around the quaint town of White Springs. According to festival volunteers, the roads will be clearly marked to aid riders in safe travels.

Of course, a festival just isn’t a festival without scrumptious cuisine. Participant check-in will begin at 2 p.m., Oct. 19, with a potluck dinner beginning at 6:30 p.m. Meals are included in the registration fee and there is even a Friday night meet and greet at 5 p.m., Oct. 20. Old friends will be reacquainted while new friends become acquainted over wine and cheese.

The autumn evening of Oct. 21, is sure to be filled with excitement with the Gathering of the Ghouls Bonfire and costume contest. Of course the Huffy Toss Contest, which will also take place that Saturday evening, has become a premiere event during the festival, according to Shea.

The Huffy Toss Contest includes categories for men, women and children, Shea explained. Beginning with the men’s category, an old heavy bicycle is used to determine who can toss a bicycle farthest. Of course, as the contest goes, parts and pieces of the bicycle fall off, making it lighter.

After the men’s category is complete, women participants compete in tossing the bicycle, or what’s left of it. Finally, the contest enters the third and final phase when the children get to try their hand at tossing the remains of the battered bicycle. According to Shea, people train and prepare ahead of time to claim victory in the Huffy Tossing Contest.

While the festival does appeal to experienced riders, Shea encourages riders of all levels of experience to attend. There will even a free beginner mountain bike clinic, which is taught by Mike Kelley, to teach the basic skills needed to ride the trails with more confidence. Kelley is an IMBA certified instructor and longstanding SBA ride guide.

There will certainly be an abundance of bicycling opportunities throughout the festival, but activities aren’t limited to bicycling. Depending on the river levels and weather, Edwin McCook will lead paddle trips along the historic Suwannee River. Yoga by Judy is another feature that is sure to be enjoyed during the event.

Although the wrath of Hurricane Irma did present some untimely challenges for this year’s event, Shea remains enthusiastic about another stellar event. Acknowledging the expected number of participants will likely be fewer than previous years, SBA members expect around 120 to attend this year.

Shea articulated that riders who attend the event are drawn to the beautiful White Springs area. In fact, after visiting the area for a previous festival, Suwannee Bicycle Association’s current vice president and his wife chose White Springs as their permanent home.

The Suwannee Fat Tire Festival might be the SBA’s signature event, but the organization offers several other events throughout the year. Those events include the IDIDARIDE, Suwannee Sweetheart, Spring Pedal and Paddle, Spring Hop Paddle, Dog Days and Secret Santa.

Anyone interested in registering for the weekend festival is encouraged to visit the SBA website at, where online registration is available, or contact Shea by email at Walk in registrations, along with one day registrations are also available, Shea confirmed.

-All Photos above courtesy of the Suwannee Bicycle Association