Fakawi 2017: 50 Mile Gravel Grinder

Last weekend was Fakawi: the biggest off road ride in South Florida, and maybe the entire southeast.  After I got suckered into going last year, I’d been looking forward to making it back there to go blast through the grass, mud, and levees with 1000 of my closest friends.  I set up my Trek Superfly single speed with gears for this event and after adding a couple extra bottle cages on the back I was ready to hammer it out there and have a good time.

The pace was fast out of the park, with Jimmy helping spread it out with the scooter on front.  As soon as we turned off the asphalt and onto the grass we had to work around a gate, at which point I realized my recently added bottle holder on my seat rails was in danger.  Trying to save one of the bottles I dropped it, causing me to stop and lose about 50 spots.  Definitely not what I wanted to do early as I watched some of my fast friends ride off into…well I’m not sure where they were riding because it’s Fakawi!

I regrouped and settled into a good pace on the classic Fakawi maze through Grass, dirt, mud, and a little asphalt.  There was an old makeshift bridge that was a bit of a chokepoint when I went through, about 5 minutes but we were back on the trail and rolling.  Later I heard this chokepoint grew to over an hour, as the wooden bridge disintegrated into mulch after 1000+ riders marched over it.

Rolling past the first sag stop I felt good with 2 full bottles, and turned north onto the asphalt section along US27.  With a good 10-12mph wind out of the east, I was looking for some riders to work with in the crosswinds and saw a group up ahead.  As I tried to bridge the gap up to them I realized it was only 1 rider, and I knew we needed more to work together so I dropped back and waited for a bigger group to come by.  Unfortunately that took much longer than I might have liked, but once they did it was a welcome relief to have somebody to hide from the wind with.

With the winds this year I knew the levee section of Fakawi was going to be tough and it didn’t disappoint: 35+ minutes of digging against the wind.  There were a few people around to work with, but it mostly seemed like we were all suffering at our own pace.  The whole time on the levee you can see buildings in the distance, but they never seem to get any closer.  Arriving at that last sag stop with my water and energy on Empty, I stopped and refueled.  It had been a long 35+ miles at that point, and I knew I had another 12-15 ahead of me before the day was done.

With the worst of it behind me, I settled in and had a nice cruise back into the park.  The very end of the ride is a fun section through some pines, twisting and turning over roots and pine straw which will test your skills when your legs are completely spent.  I ended up finishing in around 2:51, which was pretty close to my goal.  There were definitely times I wish I was on my full suspension mountain bike, and other times I wish I was on my cyclocross bike, so I really think there’s no wrong answer for what kind of bike you should ride as Fakawi will test the limits of anything including the rider.

Afterwards we all hung out at the Bikeminded tent and made new friends, shared stores about the day, things that made us laugh and surprised us, and most importantly re-hydrated after a long ride in the hot Florida sun.

Here is a taste of the 1000+ photos Jemma took, check back throughout the week for the rest of them. Follow us on Instagram and Facebook to get notified when they’re up! Please feel free to download and use any, as always shoutouts are appreciated in the form of tags to our BikeMinded Facebook or BikeMinded Instagram and bikeminded.com! Leaving our little logo strip on there also lets others know where to find the pics and doesn’t interfere with your beauty shot. 😉 Jemma is working hard to get the rest up for y’all, so stay tuned to this channel! UPDATE: 2017 Fakawi 8 Photos are Up!

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