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  1. #1
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    Educate me on Florida Trails.

    Okay guys,
    Just moved to Tampa from NYC. I ride a Canfield Bro's Yelli Screamy Hardtail with Tower pro 120 fork. The trails I was riding in new york were definately a bit advanced for my newbie skills (tons of road experience, got bored and built up a cheap 29er to try it out. loved it so built the yelli to be a more capable bike for me)

    So i've been out a few times to Wilderness Park Trails and to Boyette. I have yet to hit Alafia though I may go this weekend. My first ride with the SWAMP club at Wilderness trails went something like this:

    Ride leader "Okay, we are going onto BLAH BLAH BLAH trail,this is a more difficult trail, take your time" At the end of the trail I was left dumbfounded; What was so hard about that? Up north I haven't seen a trail without a log over on it. Down here, I've yet to see a log over! Up north, when I hear someone call something a drop, it's a legit cliff. Not necessarily big, mind you but the ground is level and it drops off to a flat or slightly downhill landing. Anything that is angled upwards somewhat is what we would call a jump. Down here, I keep hearing people talk about the "drop on such and such trail" and again, I'm left dumbfounded. What I've gathered is anything that is a steep downhill they are calling a drop? i.e. Ridgeline at boyette has drops?

    So my question to you guys is, is Alafia the same as boyette and wilderness park? (don't get me wrong, there is a lot more going at Boyette than wilderness park) I keep hearing how awesome these places are supposed to be and don't get me wrong, the trails are in fantastic shape and I'm actually really loving the flowyness of these trails. I'm 250lbs so tons of big hills and climbing is death for me, these trails are spot on. I also took up MTB at age 35, I'm not really looking to be a downhill specialist but what I'm really wondering is do I need to get a different bike?

    I've got "trail" rated wheels which will probably stay regardless because I am 250lbs but I could consider going to something a few grams lighter than these. I've also got things like a triple crank, dropper post, and 203/180mm rotors. Basically for us big guys there is some degree of overbuilding we should do but if there are really no trails with anything significantly aggressive, I think I need to make a decision on what to do with this bike. At the moment I really can't justify buying a 2nd bike though what I'd really like to do is build up a much lighter chinese carbon bike to really whip through these easy trails.

    Please don't tell me "your 250lbs, lose weight" For one, I'm 6'3" and yes I could drop about 20 lbs, but I have a steel framed surly road bike at 30lbs and a carbon road bike at 16lbs. The carbon bike is way faster. it's not all about rider weight. The yelli in its current state is close to 29lbs. I know I can cut a lot of that weight off by getting rid of the dropper, changing out tires, and going to a 1x system. I just want to be sure that there aren't some other trails where I'm actually going to want all of that stuff on there.

  2. #2
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    Yea Alafia is much different than those two trails and the reds can be sketchy the first few times threw (dropper post is handy there). Also Carter Rd is a fun trail system. I would ride all the trails in central Florida before you change anything. Santos and San Felasco should be on our list before you start swapping parts. Saying that a 1x10 is all you need in Florida 32t ring is usually the starting point.

  3. #3
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    not too familiar with that area, ganna head over there in march and hit up alafia. Here is a good list to start.

    In South FL Markham blows away the other stuff around here. No crazy drops or anything but Gun range is pretty challenging, most of the other double diamonds seemed to be rated that due to difficult climbs rather then anything else...

    I'll probably respond to this when I hit up alafia and the other top 4 over that way, sometime after the 3rd of march, then going to Ocala for the 7-9th? So that will cover the top 6, I'll let ya know from my personal experience...

    My bike is built for the northwest capable of DH (Santa Cruz Heckler) but most AM/Enduro... So the geometry and suspension noticeably "easy mode" things that requires "some" technique on an XC bike...

  4. #4
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    Thanks guys. I'll leave her as is for now. Hoping to hit alafia on Sunday to get a better idea

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  5. #5
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    If you're coming from anywhere NE, Florida trails are going to be pretty tame for you.

    Since we have little, if any, elevation change(s) the trail builders have to focus on using the lay of the land for technical trails as opposed to +/-

    It's just the way it is here and part of what we deal with in the Gunshine state.

    I'd recommend riding Carter Road (loyce whateva is it now) and definitely getting up to Santos. You can ride all weekend up at Santos, many people make a camping trip out of it. The OMBA has done a great job of working and expanding the trail system up there.

    In short, if being heavy is an issue, solve it. FL riding is much more XC geared as that's the terrain we have here, period. A lot of people will head to to TN or NC for their downhill fix, but again we have a good trail system here, but it is what it is.

    I ride mainly in the fall / winter and enjoy water sports the rest of the year. I ride street during the summer months to keep my legs up and make the occasional trail ride if the weather is to rough to be on the water.

    The one thing I really like about it here is I can get up early in the summer, ride the trails and be headed home when the heat of the day is just kicking in and making it miserable to be on the trails.

    Jump in the pool, power up the lift and put the water scooters (AKA Waverunners) in the water and off we go. The east coast guys get to go from the trails to the waves, one thing we "other" west coast peeps don't really get to do that often.

    in closing, the riding here is what you make of it. If off-road riding is in your blood and soul, one adapts and makes the best of it. I feel in the end one becomes a better rider when they're exposed to more varied terrain and types of trails.

    Your mileage may vary.

  6. #6
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    Good info, and dont get me wrong, I have nothing bad to say about these trails its really just a matter of understanding if I have the right equipment for the job. The yelli and tower pro 120 with xx-spring are an amazing combo but if I know I'm always gonna have 2 wheels on the ground and nothing hairy, I can shed a lot of stuff from this bike and not miss it

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  7. #7
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    Don't worry about your weight unless it's all fat. I've been riding the trails around here since 02 and never been less than 235 (5'11"). Your bike is fine, but you may find that a hardtail with short chainstays and slack headangle can be a pita on certain trails. Yes, 99% of the time you'll have two wheels on the ground. Drops usually refer to steep descents around here, not actual drop-offs like in other places. Wilderness Park aka Flatwoods is flat, period. Not worth going unless you live close. Boyette and Carter are roughly the same driving time from Clearwater (~50 minutes), Alafia a few minutes more. It's 2 hours to Santos. Croom near Brooksville has a few fans here, I'm not one of them. I have a secret place that I ride in the Clearwater area, after work, but it isn't an actual trail. Lots of soft terrain. I use a fatbike there.

    edit: sorry confused this with another thread as far as location, thought you were in Clearwater
    Worked at Trek/Fisher dealer 2008-2013. Only a little biased.

  8. #8
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    I'm escaping the snow here in CT to visit family in Tampa. I'm pretty excited to check out Alafia for the first time. How long are the loops there?

  9. #9
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    Got to ride the real trails in alafia today. Finally some real MTB down here! I got thencuts and bruises to tell the story and we saw a huge ****ing gator RIGHT on the trail. Prob no big deal for a florida native but for a northerner it was a bit crazy!

    Eb5 not sure how long the loops are but they are a couple miles on each trail and you also have Balm Boyette 10 mins away with tons of mileage of trails

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  10. #10
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    Re: Educate me on Florida Trails.

    Big gator Educate me on Florida Trails.-uploadfromtaptalk1392779675596.jpg

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  11. #11
    eb5
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    I'd be lying if I said this gator pic doesn't worry me. What's the protocol here? We don't have these issues up north.

  12. #12
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    That gator is always at that spot. Pretty safe as along as you are not taunting him. Generally, if a gator is on land, it is "charging" up from the sun and not really hunting. If it is in the water, it is at battle stations with a full charge.
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  13. #13
    eb5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Numb Bum View Post
    That gator is always at that spot. Pretty safe as along as you are not taunting him. Generally, if a gator is on land, it is "charging" up from the sun and not really hunting. If it is in the water, it is at battle stations with a full charge.
    Thanks for the heads up... which trail is this? If I can avoid it, I will. The last thing I need to do is run into a gator b/c I didn't see it.

  14. #14
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    If there is a gator in the middle of the trail you'll see it! If not, use it's head as a ramp and get rad.
    "Listen here you beautiful *****, I'm about to **** you up with some truth"

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by cpfitness View Post
    Got to ride the real trails in alafia today. Finally some real MTB down here! I got thencuts and bruises to tell the story and we saw a huge ****ing gator RIGHT on the trail. Prob no big deal for a florida native but for a northerner it was a bit crazy!
    Glad you found a little of what you were looking for. I grew up in Florida & rode about everything there is to offer. I would highly recommend Carter Road & Santos as upcoming rides. I now live in NC & LOVE the trails up here.... but I still find myself day dreaming of Carter, Santos, & Alafia.

    As far as the gators go... they won't bother you unless you are bothering them. Most of the time they will run into the water when you come up on them... The ones that hold their ground are the big one.... and they know it.

    Have fun riding
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  16. #16
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    Re: Educate me on Florida Trails.

    Quote Originally Posted by Acme54321 View Post
    If there is a gator in the middle of the trail you'll see it! If not, use it's head as a ramp and get rad.
    This gator was well camo'ed because he was right on the edge of the trail. It is a hairpin turn where you are going to be slowing down too. My friend was on his brakes hard to avoid him! The trail was north creek and it runs along a good amount of water so its not surprising.

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  17. #17
    eb5
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    Quote Originally Posted by cpfitness View Post
    This gator was well camo'ed because he was right on the edge of the trail. It is a hairpin turn where you are going to be slowing down too. My friend was on his brakes hard to avoid him! The trail was north creek and it runs along a good amount of water so its not surprising.

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    I'll be out there regardless, but the whole camo'ed gator thing concerns me. I'll try to ride with some locals (if I see any).

  18. #18
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    I wouldn't be overly concerned but just be watchful. THe trail in question is North Creek. it does run along a lot of water so it makes sense that its the trail where you would potentially see gators. There are plenty of other great trails in there plus you have Boyette which is only a 10 minute drive away

  19. #19
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    Great Gator shot. That would scare the you know what out of me lol. My favorite animal to see but that is right up against the trail.

  20. #20
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    My first few times at Alafia and Boyette were a little freaky. Since I was on vacation, I was there on weekday mornings and had the places mostly to myself.
    I was on vigilant gator watch. Everyone I came across said don't worry about them, just don't bother them. I haven't seen that one at Alafia but I see one at Boyette every visit.
    I get down there at least once a year, maybe twice. I love Alafia, Boyette, Carter and Santos. Went to Wilderness Trails once. Won't be going there again.
    Blunderbuss, I stay in Clearwater when I'm down there. Next trip down, probably Christmas, I'm bringin' my fattie. Any chance you might hook a brother up with some trail knowledge?
    I like turtles

  21. #21
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    I would much rather see a Gator than a grizzly! You definitely need to take a weekend trip up to Santos. 80+ miles of cross country trails, and about 10 miles of difficult trails (Vortex, John brown, and Hill, rattlesnake, sinkhole).

  22. #22
    eb5
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    Quote Originally Posted by NYrr496 View Post
    I was on vigilant gator watch. Everyone I came across said don't worry about them, just don't bother them.
    I too was on 'vigilant gator watch'... I visited Alafia for the first time this past Monday and I was impressed with trails. I didn't see one gator but I did hear a lot of ruffling in the bushes that freaked me out a couple of times.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by eb5 View Post
    I too was on 'vigilant gator watch'... I visited Alafia for the first time this past Monday and I was impressed with trails. I didn't see one gator but I did hear a lot of ruffling in the bushes that freaked me out a couple of times.
    It was probably armadillos. Those things run around everywhere.
    I like turtles

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by NYrr496 View Post
    My first few times at Alafia and Boyette were a little freaky. Since I was on vacation, I was there on weekday mornings and had the places mostly to myself.
    I was on vigilant gator watch. Everyone I came across said don't worry about them, just don't bother them. I haven't seen that one at Alafia but I see one at Boyette every visit.
    I get down there at least once a year, maybe twice. I love Alafia, Boyette, Carter and Santos. Went to Wilderness Trails once. Won't be going there again.
    Blunderbuss, I stay in Clearwater when I'm down there. Next trip down, probably Christmas, I'm bringin' my fattie. Any chance you might hook a brother up with some trail knowledge?
    pm sent.
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  25. #25
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    So I went to Santos this weekend, more specifically Vortex... It was Fat Tire Fest so there were tons of people out there. The parks up there like to utilize 2 way trails, that can't support 2 way traffic, especially those from Santos Trailhead to Vortex... Outside of the traffic (which for some reason were people that always felt they had the right away...) to Vortex and either the inconciderate people going backwards or people just lost on the trails (vortex)was awesome... I've heard flow mentioned for markham and such down south but the flow around vortex was a lot nicer. If you like to ride the harder trails and do jumps, the difficult stuff here is a lot more rewarding to fly through.

    There are some fun wood structures to ride and some nice drops. The trails are entertaining and have enough variables so that a couple passes generally makes each proceding pass that much more entertaining (either having more speed, know where a jump is and how to exit it and such, or just more difficult obsticles you could've taken).

    I had the opportunity to demo a Specialized Enduro (S-works and carbon wheels 29") and that thing was amazing, I ride 650b Heckler so the range of travel was pretty familiar to me. It was a blast for the vortex area and burned through the simpler trails at santos on the way to vortex (First time on the new pike forks too, they were amazing)... My GF demo'ed a sworks stumpjumer evo 26" and it was a blast to wip around and pop up on the jumps at vortex but simply riding it back killed my thighs, SUPRISE!(we ended up swapping cause she just couldn't keep up or utilize the bike's strengths)

    Anyways outside of the traffic and other bikers Vortex was awesome, the 29er turned the barely possible climbs into butter and my 27 made the jumps and speed through tight areas that much better. I'd suggest simply parking at vortex and hanging out at that trail system if you ever make the trip.

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