Quick: What comes to mind when you think about mountain biking in Florida? If you’re like me you probably think sandy trails, no hills, short tracks behind the local K-Mart, and zero variety. Well, forget everything you think you know about mountain biking in Florida–it’s bigger and badder than you can imagine–and perhaps even more gnarly than your local scene!
Myth #1: All the trails are sandy in Florida.
The truth is there is a lot of sand in Florida–it is, after all, surrounded by salt water on 3 sides–but it’s not really as bad as you might think. For one thing, rain doesn’t really affect the trails since the sandy soils have excellent drainage. In fact, the best time to ride some of the trails in Florida is right after a rain when the soil is nice and compacted. Most trail systems in Florida avoid the super fine sand that you might see at the beach which can be more difficult to navigate than coarser varieties. Also don’t forget that Florida isn’t the only place you’ll run into sand on the trail–anyone ridden Slickrock in Utah lately? Colorado’s got it too.
Myth #2: There are no hills in Florida.
Again, mostly true but it turns out the trails builders here are much more creative than you or me. The trails at Santos make use of the massive diggings from an abandoned canal project and sport some of the sickest jumps and freeride courses in the southeast. For longer, flatter sections the trails builder make judicious use of curves–banked and unbanked–to keep riders on their toes. And if there’s a single rock or chunk of weathered coral in the area you can bet the trail will find it and make maximum use of it as an obstacle. For those who despise climbing, Florida might even be paradise.
Myth #3: There aren’t many trails in Florida and they’re all short.
This was certainly my impression before I went down to Santos but after talking to folks from around the state I realized this is simply not the case. Santos boasts almost 60 miles of singletrack (that’s not a typo, SIXTY miles in a single trail system) and they’re expanding with another 10+ miles in the next year. I honestly can’t name more than a couple singletrack trail systems with more than 40 miles of trail open to mountain bikes east of the Mississippi but it in Florida there are at least 2 or 3. Talk about epic”¦
Myth #4: The trails in Florida are all the same.
After riding 40 miles at Santos I can tell you Florida has huge trail variety, even within a single trail system. From technical, rooty and rocky sections to fast open stretches to berms and jumps, you can find just about any style of riding to suit your needs in Florida. The one area Florida doesn’t have much variety is in the weather–but that just means locals are still riding trails when we’re stuck on the trainer inside during the winter months.
Yep, Florida mountain biking rocks and if you have the chance to check it out I highly recommend making the trek. It might just be the answer to your winter riding woes.