Jamaica Fat Tyre Festival 2012 - Adventures in Paradise

Oct 11, 2012 at 22:26
by Ian Hylands  
I shiver a little as I step into the bus. I'm not really sure if its the chill of the air conditioning or the thought that I'm leaving too soon. This has been my fifth trip to Jamaica, and every trip has been better than the previous, barring the first one of course. That first fresh experience was so full of excitement and wonder, and accompanied by an awesome group of friends, it's hard to top the memory of it. But let's not get stuck in memories, they so often make the current experience seem so much less. It's hard to be happy if you compare the present to the built up memories of your "best" times, and I prefer to live in the present and enjoy every moment. That's one of the best things about Jamaica, it's always best times mon!

The first day of the Festival has lately been spent at James Bond Beach for the Jamaica Bicycle Bash, an amazing event that is a festival into itself. The Bicycle Bash is an afternoon of bicycle races and contests, some of which almost remind me of the wacky races. The events are open to all, and all usually includes a large number of Jamaicans of all ages, all keen to show off their skills on de bicycle. And all keen to try out the really nice bikes which most of us tourists bring...

Jamaica Fat Tyre Festival
Jamaica Fat Tyre Festival
Jamaica Fat Tyre Festival
  All kinds of interesting stuff, sights and sounds

The Rambo Race is a short 3 lap race that starts at the beach and goes up the hill into the town of Oracabess. There it takes a turn to the right and goes through town, after which it takes another right, and heads down the hill and back to the beach. Please keep in mind that in Jamaica they drive on the left, not something you want to struggle with on the three laps through the traffic filled streets.

Jamaica Fat Tyre Festival
Jamaica Fat Tyre Festival
Jamaica Fat Tyre Festival
  Ex XC racer and all around awesome Canadian guy Andreas Hestler taking the win. In his spare time Dre organizes the BC Bike Race.

Jamaica Fat Tyre Festival
Jamaica Fat Tyre Festival

The Rambo Olympics is a bit of an adventure in cycling. Racers do 4 laps of the grass track, and each lap after the first they have to pick up an object to carry for the rest of the race. Simple enough, except that the objects are little bit on the large and unwieldy side. After the first lap contestants must pick up and carry a plastic beer crate, at the end of that lap they pick up a propane cylinder, and then at the end of the third lap they add a weed whacker to the mix...

Jamaica Fat Tyre Festival
Jamaica Fat Tyre Festival
Rowan Sorrel competes in the 2012 Jamaica Bicycle Bash
  Despite the many, almost continuous, warnings to keep children off the track accidents still happen. Rowan was leading his heat on the last lap, almost sprinting around the track with a beer crate, gas tank, and whacker in hands. That's a fair bit of mass and it was going at a fair clip when one unsuspecting youth decided to run onto the track. He didn't manage to get in front of Rowan, in fact Rowan never even saw the kid. When he suddenly launched over the bars and into space still carrying a plastic beer crate, metal propane tank, and weed wacker he had no idea what had happened. And then when he hit the ground in a pile with all of the various cargo he knew even less. What has been since pieced together based on observations from bystanders, is that the boy managed to run straight into the end of the whacker, which was moving at pretty good speed. The boy was immediately rushed to the hospital where he received several stitches in the side of his mouth and his cheek. Rowan on the other hand managed only to ruin his otherwise perfect english teeth.

Jamaica Fat Tyre Festival
Jamaica Fat Tyre Festival
Jamaica Fat Tyre Festival
  Darren Butler going up against Sanchez Hubbard in the final of the obstacle race. Ramps, rollers, skinnies and stairs... I don't even remember exactly who won, but it was really close.
Jamaica Fat Tyre Festival
Jamaica Fat Tyre Festival
  Sanchez took the win in the bunnyhop, topping out at somewhere over 40 inches I believe.

Jamaica Fat Tyre Festival
  Jamaican BMX crew. Clifton, Garnet, Damion, Sanchez and ??

Jamaica Fat Tyre Festival
Jamaica Fat Tyre Festival
Jamaica Fat Tyre Festival
  Kids races, Women's races (this is for Matt) and even an old guys race. Lion up against David Linehan

At the end of a long day of fun in the sun we loaded up into the van and the truck. People and bikes, and headed off into the sunset to prepare for our first real day of riding...

Jamaica Fat Tyre Festival
Jamaica Fat Tyre Festival
Jamaica Fat Tyre Festival

Day Two - Murphy Hill and Hamilton Mtn.

Jamaica Fat Tyre Festival
  Rowan Sorrell, feeling a little bit stiff and sore after the previous days pile up, but still ready to go...

Jamaica Fat Tyre Festival
Jamaica Fat Tyre Festival
2012 Jamaica Fat Tyre Festival Day 2
2012 Jamaica Fat Tyre Festival Day 2
2012 Jamaica Fat Tyre Festival Day 2
2012 Jamaica Fat Tyre Festival Day 2
  Sanchez is pretty amazing on any bike, he rides a lot of BMX, but has started riding 26" wheels a lot more lately, even going on the odd trail ride with our local guide Andy Giles. He spent a few days with us, trying to keep up to Rowan, Dre, Butler, and the rest of the faster guys, and easily outpacing the slower ones. He does a pretty good job considering his bike has bald tires, maybe half an inch of front travel, and V-brakes, and not to mention he doesn't own a helmet or pads. I can't imagine what this guy would be like on a modern suspension bike.

2012 Jamaica Fat Tyre Festival Day 2
2012 Jamaica Fat Tyre Festival Day 2
2012 Jamaica Fat Tyre Festival Day 2
  Rowan Sorrell

2012 Jamaica Fat Tyre Festival Day 2
2012 Jamaica Fat Tyre Festival Day 2
  Andreas Hestler

  Jamaican Jerk is a favorite food of mine and many others, but one is ever happier than Jamie Edmundson when we go to Scotchies for lunch. The best Jerk House for miles (even Missy Elliot eats here when she's in town), and he's happy to ride the 6 or so miles from town to get some.

2012 Jamaica Fat Tyre Festival Day 2
2012 Jamaica Fat Tyre Festival Day 2
2012 Jamaica Fat Tyre Festival Day 2

On the first day of the tour we lunch at Scotchies. This followed by another bus ride, but the afternoons ride is far from a shuttle. It's a bit of a road ride on old ashphalt and gravel, mixed in with some green rocks and red orange clay on the climb, just to keep it interesting. It's not too bad if it's been dry for a while, but as soon as it gets wet, anything red or green on the ground may as well be greased. Once you get to the top of Hamilton Mountain, a short XC loop awaits. This is followed by a bit of a rip down to a local corner store, and then more riding on some great single and double track, which eventually ends at Rio Nuevo beach and Conscious Corner, home of our good friend Norval. There is nothing quite like ending a good ride at a beach, with cold Red Stripes and a dip in the ocean. Sunset comes as always, and as everyone winds down and gets into a few more Red Stripes, and maybe and Appleton and Coke or two, or three, the attention is turned to dinner. This years dinner at Conscious Corner was no less awesome than any other I've had there, proof that great food doesn't require any sort of modern kitchen. I don't remember exactly all that we ate, but the curried lobster was amazing!



Days Three and Four - Robins Bay

As things will tend to do in faraway places the next few days of the Fat Tyre Fest tend to blend into one long adventure involving driving, riding, eating, drinking, beaches and sleeping. I often wish it would never end... As we leave the Ocho Rios area and head east towards Robins Bay, we leave the resort area behind and move into the country. Farming and fishing are the main things out here, and we get to experience a bit of both on our rides, riding through farmers fields and into little fishing villages. Even after a number of years it never becomes old, but once again I will never forget how surreal the first experience was. From fresh fruit, sugar cane, and coconut at Natty Grant's house, to the amazing lunch that he and his Rasta friends cook for us at the beach, and the wonderful dinner at River Lodge, the food is amazing. And the riding is better...

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Then wake up and do it all over again....


Days Five and Six - The Blue Mountains

And then it's time to move on to the Blue Mountains of Jamaica. A bit of a drive, but well worth it. After hours of tight twisty roads we arrive at the Scorpio Inn, a place that you really need to see to believe. The next few days will be spent riding some amazing trails, and taking part in the Ken Klowak memorial weekend. Ken Klowak was a trail builder that was instrumental in building most of the early trails here at the Blue Mountain property, and the weekend is an event to honor his memory. Coffee, breakfast, ride, lunch, ride, soak in the river, ride, dinner, and then it all ends with an amazing concert by Tarrus Riley.

  uh oh, looks like the Appleton supplies are getting low....

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As I sit on the air conditioned bus waiting to go to the airport, I think about all the events and experiences of the week here in Jamaica. The amazing food, the wonderful people, the riding, and the really great times I've had here. And then my thoughts are interrupted as we stop at the Club Hotel Riu to pick up a few more travelers, also on their way home. A large pale looking man sits down next to me, overflowing his seat while the burnt skin flakes off of his arm and onto my side of the arm rest. He's with his wife and teenage daughters, and I try to be sociable, asking if he enjoyed his trip. He tells me it was great, and that they really loved Jamaica. I ask if he went to Scotchies for some of their amazing jerk chicken, after all it is right across the street. He replies that they didn't, and in fact they never left the resort....

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The Jamaica Fat Tyre Festival would like to thank all of its sponsors: The Jamaica Tourist Board, The Oracabessa Foundation, Appleton Estate, Rooms Resort, and John Crow's Tavern.

For more info check out the official website of the Saint Mary Off Road Bicycling Club, or SMORBA
Must Read This Week

82 Comments

  • + 51
 Man I need a holiday
  • + 2
 I need too Smile
[Reply]
  • + 19
 It really looks like they've captured the idea of fun and good times with their approach over there. Much more about creativity than big brands and split second times. That race with the random (and they are so random) items looks hilarious!
  • + 4
 Definitely! They all look like they're having so much fun!
  • + 1
 They should introduce the random race into the WC circuit. They could use different items depending on the skill of the rider. E.g. Gwin has to carry a full crate of beer, meanwhile some random local kid can just ride with a rusty spoon in his back pocket. Would really level the playing field lol
  • + 5
 funny but those items are not random at all! We got the idea for that race because Jamaican's do use their bikes to carry those things. Granted they don't usually carry them all at the same time. We could add chain saws, trays of porridge, watermelons and bunches of bananas...etc
  • + 1
 Hahaha, brilliant! Love it.
[Reply]
  • + 16
 Hey mon that was a huge hit you did there, not talkin bout' no jump neither. Smile
  • + 1
 You caught that too, eh? Haha looks like it was a blast! I'd love to get away from here and experience something different like Jamacia
  • + 2
 @brockley
we've taken hits like that here in slc haven't we haha
[Reply]
  • + 12
 they all look like they don't give a sh*t and just have ridiculously good time. love it!
[Reply]
  • + 9
 Awesome pics as usual Ian! Thinking bout ya dodzy, RIP bro,
  • + 6
 Agreed. Was nice to see a shot of Dodzy in the mix.
  • + 2
 Yeah, had to throw that in there, I really wish I had a riding shot of him from this year, he's been such an integral part of this place...
  • + 1
 during the last 3 or more years in the blue mtns Dodzy was building with Ken instead of riding with us...RIP riders.
[Reply]
  • + 7
 looked awesome! wonder how much weed was smoked Wink and dont try to tell me that wouldnt be fun with a bunch of Jamaicans
[Reply]
  • + 5
 That's what happens when you get too high and race….you forget were your going and just go to the beach and drink beer and swim. Count me in
[Reply]
  • + 4
 am i the only one that thinks the dude in the red sunglasses looks like the black version of skrillex? just sayin...pretty "beaches", kush, and bikes. im pretty sure that spells fun
  • + 1
 He is my best friend in all jamaica....his name is Ras Natty Grant. Trail guru, builder and all round great guy. There is no other person I would want to clear a trail with or dine in the field alongside.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 This is incredible!
i started saving money for next year , i cant miss it!
I want to go there so badly Smile and after that go and do Inca trials etc
jeez i need to stop working and start riding my bike all over a world.

plus
i need to win lotto to do it Frown
[Reply]
  • + 2
 Thank you Ian, inspired me to travel. As awesme as it would be to go to any of the big MBT events around the world this looks to beone of the most enjoyale, such accepting people.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Would have been nice to see some photos of the guy in yellow shirt sporting what looked like an early 5 speed Mariushi mountain bike at the start line of the enduro. Looked pretty pimpin. Dre should have switched bikes with this guy to be sportsmanlike instead of peeling off the startline hammering on 2013 RMB technology - ha! Loved the cut bars one guy was sporting. That was my bike in the 80s!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 I was playing drums in Fishermans Point resort, Ocho Rios Nov '98. After looking at this, feel the vibe to go back to the land of wood and water....Cracking pics also. What lenses were used over there I wonder ? I just invested in a Nikon D7000....
  • + 1
 I brought a 16mm fisheye, a 24-70mm f/2.8, and a 70-200mm f/2.8 VR2 If you look at the info for each image it shows which camera and lens was used to shoot it.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Green banana with envy I did rusty's extreme adventures in Negril about 10 years ago an sweated my bits of in the heat, next time if ever, my advice would be to train per trip with the central heating on full blast while on a turbo trainer, you will definitely feel the benefit
  • + 1
 gonna say...loos like brain melt in a POC lid out there...
[Reply]
  • + 3
 Anyone else recognize the Jamaican BMX Crew from Nitro Circus?
Looks like such an awesome event. Kinda helps prove it's the rider, not the ride.
tup
  • + 1
 our pals are 2 crews.....Krash Test Dummy and Street Stalkers Both are from Kingston Jamaica......rough and tough. Ya wanna do a street sesh with these cats .....from Tivoli Towers to Trenchtown
  • + 1
 Krash Test Dummies were the ones on Nitro Circus Razz
Would be sick, i'd love to go to Jamaica one day lol
[Reply]
  • + 2
 I think this is my favourite PB article ever. Thanks for the huge number of amazing shots Ian; for me, video can never replace this type of storytelling.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 By far one of the coolest and most awesome events of the year. Ghetto bikes, crazy Jamaican guys, and an atmosphere that is simply just amazing. One article I actaully enjoy reading and looking every bit over!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Question for those who've been to these festivals: Of you non-Jamaicans there are always a bunch of you guys, and then there's like one or two girls. Fair enough. How do the local, native girls view you guys?
  • + 1
 there's a pic of me with one of the locals... jus' sayin' haha Smile
[Reply]
  • + 4
 If they can ride like they can run were f*cked!! Big Grin
[Reply]
  • + 1
 The locals are stoked even with their banger bikes (which I can relate to). Many are just so caught up with the latest bike geo, suspension, components and can't ride for shet, then blame the bike.
[Reply]
  • + 3
 Uh, yeah, I'd like to rent some mini brides? How many do you have available?
[Reply]
  • + 2
 I'm half Jamaican and love bikes. Fat Tyre Festival has been added to the bucket list.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Nice work! If I don't show up during the tour how long will I last with a carbon bike? Great article & photos. Sign me up!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 If I was Millionaire I would give to those Jamaican riders 500 brand new XC bikes as charity, can you imagine what will that means to those riders !!!???... HAVEN
[Reply]
  • + 2
 jah rastafari...jamaica.....
[Reply]
  • + 1
 The smiles at this event were all equal. Didn't matter what bike they were riding. They were all bright.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 great article and photos Ian! Feels like it was yesterday looking through those photos, thankyou!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Ian+Dre= how can you not have a great time? Awesome account of what looks like a life altering event
[Reply]
  • + 1
 they ride on the correct side of the road! what getting used to does that need?
[Reply]
  • + 1
 my friend and i say "HOORAY BEER!" whenever something exciting happens now.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 i love smoking weed and riding my bike.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 That's awesome Ian, you captured the Vib perfectly, See you in Feb..........
[Reply]
  • + 1
 every year, i look forward to the fat tire fest photo essay. thanks, PB, someday i'll be there for the fun.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 looks llike a dream vacation
[Reply]
  • + 1
 now THAT is a biker's sunburn! looked like an awesome trip and it certainly made a fun article!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 I am interested in the country of Jamaica. It watched many photographs. I am surprised. It is that there is a rider of Bike.
[Reply]
  • + 3
 Lifetime adventure !
[Reply]
  • + 2
 Story told in Photos. Cracking images great work Ian
[Reply]
  • + 2
 Thanks Ian!, now I don't need to go, I've already been ;-)
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Jesus that was a lot of scrolling to make a comment! Awesome pics of what must be an amazing experience.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 so nice!! thats what biking is all about.fun friends nature adventure..love the pics Ian!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 finally some decent... music!!!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Brutal..!!!!!! yo quiero ir de Vacaciones!!!!!!!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Wicked Ian. Glad my bike got such a great shot........
[Reply]
  • + 1
 2:32..--2:32.....pachamama sagrada..
[Reply]
  • + 1
 The riding looks mint but the food looks LUSH!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 damn in 8 weeks i got 4 weeks holiday to bad i dont got money to go there
[Reply]
  • + 1
 "...managed only to ruin his otherwise perfect english teeth."

tha lulz
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Czarny ma rower, pewnie kradziony. Good photo. : )
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Going to have to put this one on the ride before I can't list.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Rowan Sorrel is a Welshman actually, not an Englishman
  • + 1
 oops, sorry...
[Reply]
  • + 1
 goood feel video and great atmosphere aslo Big Grin
[Reply]
  • + 1
 next year I need to be there!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Some wicked kiwi built trails in there!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 dam i want to go
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Ride the world, Awesome!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 jamaica grande jamaica
[Reply]
  • + 0
 Amazing photos Ian!!! I'll be there next year fo sho!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 awesome photography!
[Reply]
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