Mountain biking in Florida? Piece of cake, right? Let me assure you, Florida offers the full range of biking trails, from family-friendly to double black diamond, expert only trails. We actually have trails ranked as Epic Rides by IMBA (International Mountain Bicycling Association) and one that’s in their Hall of Fame — Alafia River State Park.
I never would have believed it myself, if I hadn’t gone out and started exploring Florida’s off-road bicycling trails. The easy trails are typically hard packed with very few roots or other technical sections, although some may flood seasonally. The intermediate trails seem to run the gamut from not-so-tough to very near advanced or expert. The black diamond and double black diamond trails? Well, you better be very good…with head to toe protective gear. And help at the ready.
Super-soft “sugar” sand, roots, horizontal tree trunks, rock, mud and water are the primary obstacles on the intermediate trails. And while you’re dealing with one or more of those impediments, the trail is likely a serpentine, with sharp, frequent twists and turns.
Some riding areas, like Santos and Alafia River, even have wooden structures, like curved embankments, raised narrow tracks, humps and log bridges. Often riders have a choice to do a short section that’s either easier or harder, while staying on the same trail. Kudos to the mountain bicycling clubs and their volunteers for building and maintaining these trails.
Of course, you still have Florida’s outdoor conditions to contend with. Hot and muggy much of the year…and that sun can fry you to a crisp when you’re out in the open for long periods. Low-lying trails tend to flood following rains. Thunderstorms tend to pop up in the afternoon when it’s hot. Lighting is an extreme danger in Florida, so watch the weather. You’ll want plenty of water, sunscreen and frequent breaks. While you’re riding, insects aren’t typically a problem, but they can be brutal when you stop for breaks…except for the few months of winter. Bottom line: A little planning can greatly enhance your outdoor experience.
Following is a list of IMBA Affiliated Chapters and Supporting Organizations in Florida. You can check the links for more information on the trails they maintain…and if you want to volunteer, of course. Below that are links to the places I’ve ridden, complete with photos, maps, links, and even some videos.
Brevard Mountain Bike Association, Palm Bay >> http://ridebmba.org/
Broward County Parks & Recreation, Sunrise >> http://broward.org/parks
Flagler Area Biking / SORBA (FABS) >> http://www.flaglerbiking.com/
Florida Mudcutters, Fort Myers >> http://www.mudcutters.org/
Florida Off Road Cycling Enthusiasts, Inc. (FORCE), West Palm Beach >> http://www.forcemtb.org
Friends of San Felasco, Alachua >> http://www.sanfelasco.net/
Ocala Mountain Bike Association, Belleview >> http://omba.org/
SORBA Jax, Jacksonville >> http://www.sorbajax.org
SORBA Orlando, Orlando >> http://www.sorbaorlando.com
South West Association of Mountain Pedalers (SWAMP), Tampa >> http://www.swampclub.org
Suwannee Bicycle Association (SBA), Gainesville >> http://www.suwanneebike.org
Tallahassee Mountain Bike Association, Tallahassee >> http://tmba.bike
Trail Thrills, Jacksonville >> http://www.meetup.com/Trail-Thrills/
Trips for Kids (FLIPANY), Fort Lauderdale >> http://flipany.org/kids/trips-for-kids-flipany
Trips for Kids (Gainesville) >> http://www.tripsforkids.org
Trips for Kids (Tallahassee) >> http://www.cccyclists.org/kids/trips-for-kids
From our Bucket List — the places I’ve ridden so far. All of these have descriptions, photos, links and maps; some have videos and/or slideshows.
PS — There are many other bicycling clubs in Florida. Here are a few others I found >>
Now get on your bike and ride!