Hello all, I am heading your way and looking into the MTB scene there in and around Tampa. I am currently in Colorado Springs, Colorado and have been here for more than 20 years. I have been cycling on an off for over 30 years, raced downhill professionally and even ran my own bike shop for more than 5 years.
I love cycling, I ride MTB, Road, Cross all year long - yes even int he snow. Anything and everything from flat-ish, to 14,000 foot mountains, lotís of shuttling/downhill rides, as well as 3-4 day bikepacking trips. I live at an elevation of 6,500 feet and can ride anywhere from here up to 14,100 feet (Pikes Peak). At 52 - 5í 8Ē and 220 pounds, I am not as fast as I used to be, but I can still have with the 30 somethings! I typically get in about 1,600 miles a year with a little over 80,000 feet of climbing - honestly though, I am looking forward to more flat terrain, the climbing is not all thatís itís cracked up to be!
I gave up my Giant Reign & Santa Cruz Superlight shortly after I got my Borealis Echo, a carbon Fat Bike that I have absolutely fallen in love with! I have 3 sets of wheels; all carbon 5" fatty for most all mountain dirt and snow riding, a set of aluminum with less aggressive tread for general purpose riding around town on fire roads and pavement, and a set of Stan's Hugo52 29+ with 3" Dirt Wizards for the longer singletrack rides, bikepacking and touring trips.
I am a realist and do understand that Florida is way different than Colorado in many different way including climate, terrain, technicality, temperament and even rider attitude! You guys seem to be way more laid-back and just want to have fun on the trails riding your bike - not so much the case here! I am also highly looking forward to MTB rides that don't start on a hill, end on a hill and require 1,000 feet of climbing every 6-7 miles; the mountains can be a bitch sometimes!
With that said, I do have some basic questions and riding in Florida:
1. Trail surface & conditions: Here the trails are mostly crushed Granite & hard packed dirt (donít crash), but still require a decently aggressive tread to balance grip and float on the downhill portions which can reach speeds of 25-30 mph. I see via Strava that some of your rides do have some speed associated with them - but it looks like accelerated vs gravity feed. What is the typical trail surface made of and what's the best "kind/tread" of tires for the majority of the MTB riding?
2. Trail Ratings: Being that I am in the mountains and face a huge diversity of terrain and altitude on each ride, rating trails is extremely difficult and one can get themselves into trouble really quick if the don't do their homework and only rely on word of mouth. While here I may have to climb 1,500 feet, I also have the 1,500 foot descend for recuperation; The flatter trails seem to be an all out full peddle ride, which can be difficult in it's own right. How are your trails rated, and is that somewhat consistent across all groups?
3. Technicality: When you guys mention that a trail is "technically difficult" - what does that actually mean?
4. Beach riding: Totally new to me, what is the "beach riding like? Are there designated trails, is it wide open, is it even allowed? What consideration/precautions should I be aware of?
5. What's the "theft" situation like? Here is horrible! I love jumping on my bike and heading out on a light ride and lunch with my wife, or even put on the BOB trailer and run all my errands. Here, if we ride into town for a park ride & lunch and lock a bike up on a restaurant railing it will last all of 3 minutes before stolen (no joke). In downtown there even have been cyclists that have been bike-jacked at gun point just for their bikes! So those of us that do ride into town, we have descent Craig's List bikes that we have "modified" to look like sh*t bikes and they typically get left alone - so sad!
I know this is a long post with a lot of questions, but i am excited to get there and ride some new placed and terrain, I am all about the adventure!
Thanks again in advance for the help!
Here's a few links to some of my riding:
My stats fell last year when my wife was diagnosed with Breast Cancer, but this year I should/hope to be back more aggressively!
Full Stats: http://veloviewer.com/athlete/3232183/
Ride with GPS: https://ridewithgps.com/users/535203