Southern Fried Freeride at Lake Allatoona. If you don’t already know, it’s a long weekend of non-stop STAND-UP JET SKI shenanigans. It draws people from all over the region, and it’s been going down since the early 2000s. Kind of like a proper summer send-off. The originators of Southern Fried Freeride are Paul Lehr (below in orange vest) & Harrison Lanford. Of course – I’ve only gotten to see those earlier years on video. And if I do have one regret, it’s that I wish I would’ve found the world of stand-up jet skis sooner. Let me tell you why…

Stand-up jet ski

Stand-up jet ski

kawasaki 550 Stand-up jet ski

1) Great people

There’s great people in just about every sport and/or hobby, I get that. But there’s something special about the stand-up jet ski world. Since stand-up jet skis are so niche these days, you kinda meet everyone in the community real fast. And it seems like everyone’s genuinely there to lend a helping hand – wether it’s hard-to-source parts, mod recommendations, or sharing tips/tricks to get you over a hurdle to the next level. I’m not sure I’ve ever been in another sport/hobby/culture that immediately takes you in & wants to see you progress the same way stand-up jet ski people do.

It’s old-school in the best way. In fact, it’s almost a little bit like time traveling back to the early ’90s, when there was simply less influencing, less branding, less social-media peacocking… and more folks just living in the moment. You can’t take a selfie on a stand-up jet ski… and phones don’t upload TikToks from the bottom of a lake lol. So in modern times, it’s refreshing both figuratively & literally to ditch that stuff & be where your feet are… which leads in to my next point. 

Stand-up jet ski

jet ski cooler

2) Great fun

I know there’s a lot of like-minded automotive enthusiasts reading this. And there is a ton of crossover from car culture to stand-up jet skis. A lot spill over from cycle sports as well. But the difference I’ve found, is that with sand-up jet skis, there’s no entry fees, no sessions, no ‘run groups’, and no changing tires or laying under a car on hot asphalt.

In fact, with all this government legislation constricting on the automotive industry, the water is one place where there’s still freedom to move. All that’s expected out here, is a basic level of common sense, spacial awareness, and respect for others (as well as the parks, boat ramps & wake zones). But with that understood, you’re free to go where to want, when you want, at the speed you want. And when you crash, it’s into water. Show me a sport with tires, where the crashes are refreshing. Although to be fair, sometimes that ‘refreshment’ can slap pretty hard… all up your nose & eyelids lol. 

Lowered Silverado

freestyle jet ski

3) Great exercise

A body in motion says in motion. And a stand-up jet ski will find every muscle in your body… & make it sore lol. It’s physical, in a good way. And it will challenge you, in the best way. Like motorsports, stand-up jet skis are a forever learning curve. And that’s part of why it never gets stale. You have to earn your thrills, and put in tray-time. From the shore, they make it look easy… but it ain’t. Yet every time you get in the water, you learn, you improve, and you crave more. It is such a radical sport to try & conquer. And it’s completely addicting.

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