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  1. #1
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    Heading to Tampa area

    Hi all,
    I should be heading to live in/around Tampa area before the year is out. I'm currently sizing up a new bike after last was written off in car accident.

    I like to head out for rides mornings/evenings taking in roads and local off road sections (forests, hills, etc - I'm in the UK now) and head out to trails and parks at the weekends and holidays. I'm more of a marathon/cross country rider than DH and all that rock hopping stuff :-) My current choices for the UK would be a Cannondale RZ or maybe even a Scalpel for a change of pace, then my brain kicked in and realised I was choosing based on my past riding and not FL, hence the post.

    So any thoughts or pointers on the riding and terrain would be much appreciated :-)

    Thanks

    Ant

  2. #2
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    Either bike would work well down here, depends on your style. There is a good variety of trails down here, the ones closest to Tampa would be Boyette, Alafia, and Wilderness Trails/Flatwoods. Best bet would be to look up some reviews or watch some videos and see what we have. Proedgebiker has quite a few videos up of most of the local trails, most are pretty good vids also.
    AKA: Slowfatguy

  3. #3
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    Sounds like FL may be the place for your riding style. Tons of good trails in the Tampa area that are less than an hour drive from most parts of Tampa (Alafia, Boyette, Carter, Croom, Flatwoods). There are also some nice parks about two hours away (Santos & San Felasco).

    Anything above 3-4" of suspension travel is overkill in this area (in my opinion). A nice rigid or short travel XC rig is all you need to have a blast around here.
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  4. #4
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    If you have a choice on where you'll be living, I would recommend trying to stay east of Tampa proper, like eastern Hillsborough County. The Brandon area or south Plant City would be my choice. Anything in Pinellas County will not be conducive to riding mtb's.

    On the bike choice, I pretty much agree with what has been said. The 6" travel bikes that seem so prevalent around here are definitely overkill for these trails. I know plenty of guys that make me look stupid with their rigid bikes. But I personally believe 100-120mm is the sweet spot for what we have. I ride a fs 29, fwiw.
    Worked at Trek/Fisher dealer 2008-2013. Only a little biased.

  5. #5
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    Thanks for the replies :-) I will likely be based over West/Central area of Tampa but jumping in the car to get a trial or park here is common place. Been watching the Proedgebiker and know of the Pinellas County Trail. Interesting comments on the trails vs bike as I am leaning more towards the Scalpel currently - my only internal debate now is do I buy the Scalpel and bring it with me and enjoy riding until I come or hold out until I get there and then buy and continue to suffer the statis bike at the gym ;-)

    Thanks for the advice and tips, look forward to riding out there!

    Rgds

    Ant

  6. #6
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    We also have the Upper Tampa Bay and Suncoast trails (both paved trails like the Pinellas Trail) for some nice road training without worrying about getting hit by a car.

    I agree with Eastern Hillsborough County. Be sure to check the Brandon/Riverview area (maybe 15 minutes east of Tampa). It is a bit more rural than Tampa but it is super close to Boyette and Alafia, plus it is very easy to hop right on the interstate and head north to Flatwoods, Croom, Santos, etc. I've lived in Brandon for the past 5-years and really enjoy how I can get to one of four parks within half an hour or less.

    Anywho...best of luck with the move and good luck with the bike purchase. If you end up waiting to buy when you get to the states be sure to check out some 29ers. 29er seems to be the popular weapon of choice for our local trails.
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  7. #7
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    Going to need to start adding the trails and tips to a Google map I think. Having been seriously knocked off by a car last June I'd rather skip that a while now so the paved trails for road training will always be very handy :-)

    Still not ridden a 29er, seen many but I like to ride small in Cannondale and always imagine a small 29er looking like some mad pumped up Hot Wheels bike ;-)

    Thanks

    Ant

  8. #8
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    I'm from PA, but have been visiting in-laws in New Tampa since Sat. I've ridden the Flatwoods Wilderness Trails 3 days so far this week. Tomorrow AM will be my last opportunity before I fly home early Sat. (anyone want to join me?) The trails are smooth and flat compared to what I'm used to, but it's still a fun ride. Anything more than a XC HT would be overkill.

  9. #9
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    Thanks for the input. I tried to acquire a Scalpel 1 yesteryday via my LBS, allegedly there is no stock at all in Europe and 2011 Scalpel not due to until sometime after Christmas. :-(

    Ant

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by tduro
    I'm from PA, but have been visiting in-laws in New Tampa since Sat. I've ridden the Flatwoods Wilderness Trails 3 days so far this week. Tomorrow AM will be my last opportunity before I fly home early Sat. (anyone want to join me?) The trails are smooth and flat compared to what I'm used to, but it's still a fun ride. Anything more than a XC HT would be overkill.
    Oh man, you've missed out on some great trails in the area. I actually recommend full suspension for Flatwoods because the roots get tedious after a while.
    Worked at Trek/Fisher dealer 2008-2013. Only a little biased.

  11. #11
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    What did I miss?

  12. #12
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    Alafia, Boyette, Carter/Loyce Harpe; all less than an hour away. And Santos is 1.5 from New Tampa. All of these trails are a completely different experience from Flatwoods.
    Worked at Trek/Fisher dealer 2008-2013. Only a little biased.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by blunderbuss
    Oh man, you've missed out on some great trails in the area. I actually recommend full suspension for Flatwoods because the roots get tedious after a while.
    True but I ride a Rigid with a carbon fork there and its not to bad.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by blunderbuss
    Alafia, Boyette, Carter/Loyce Harpe; all less than an hour away. And Santos is 1.5 from New Tampa. All of these trails are a completely different experience from Flatwoods.
    Oh, OK. I thought you were saying I missed something at Flatwoods that justifies a FS. True, there are a few roots here and there, but they're few and far between. Still, it's a fun ride - just different than the PA rocks I grew up with.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by tduro
    Oh, OK. I thought you were saying I missed something at Flatwoods that justifies a FS. True, there are a few roots here and there, but they're few and far between. Still, it's a fun ride - just different than the PA rocks I grew up with.
    Nah, there are a few extremely rooty sections there, Panther and Techno Pig for instance, but the only thing that really justifes full suspension at Flatwoods is riding it 2-3 times a week, every week. I work across the street and we open at 10am, so riding before work is easy.
    Worked at Trek/Fisher dealer 2008-2013. Only a little biased.

  16. #16
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    Scalpels are sweet frames, they can really be built up into something racey. I was considering one until I started seeing people have durability problems. I hope you don't become one of those statistics. I would say 100-130mm is all you will need for FL depending on your style of riding. I personally haven't used anything over 120mm and have yet to find a reason to go bigger, but bikes like the Stumpjumper fair pretty well. The most important thing is small bump compliance. If you make your way to S.FL (Oleta/Markham) it becomes more usable. Alafia is a dream, just silky smooth. Santos, there are trails where the suspension gets used.

    Happy Riding, you'll have fun in the sun, not the Rainy UK (lived in Germany/Belgium for 6 yrs)
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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by blunderbuss
    If you have a choice on where you'll be living, I would recommend trying to stay east of Tampa proper, like eastern Hillsborough County. The Brandon area or south Plant City would be my choice. Anything in Pinellas County will not be conducive to riding mtb's.

    On the bike choice, I pretty much agree with what has been said. The 6" travel bikes that seem so prevalent around here are definitely overkill for these trails. I know plenty of guys that make me look stupid with their rigid bikes. But I personally believe 100-120mm is the sweet spot for what we have. I ride a fs 29, fwiw.
    I lived on South Tampa/Beach Park for years - easy access to the crosstown, so Alafia and Boyette were a short 30 minute drive. As long as you are close to 75 or the crosstown, no worries. Alafia is still one of my favorite all time places to ride anywhere.
    Crunchy. Even in mud.

  18. #18
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    My friend and I are actually heading up that way for Sunday! We will be at Alafia on Sunday and who knows where on Monday. Probably get a hotel in Brandon for Sunday night. If you see a 4D Gray VW Golf with a Yakima hitch rack on the back, thats us!
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  19. #19
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    Don't need no stinkin suspension in FL. Nut up and go rigid.
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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by blunderbuss
    Nah, there are a few extremely rooty sections there, Panther and Techno Pig for instance, but the only thing that really justifes full suspension at Flatwoods is riding it 2-3 times a week, every week. I work across the street and we open at 10am, so riding before work is easy.
    I missed Techno-pig, but I rode Panther in both directions each day, as it was my route to and from the main loop (I rode in from Hunter's Green). I rode most of the trails across the street from Trout Creek, including Grandpa, Misery, Indian, Palmetto, Piglett, and I may have forgotten some. Gator Bait was closed the whole time I was there. Indian should have been closed too. It was a mess.

    I don't have a bike down there, so I borrowed my nephew's 80 mm HT which is about 2 sizes too small for me. I brought a set-back post from home which almost made it fit OK. It got the job done. I was still reasonably comfortable up to 20 and even 30 miles, so I can't complain.

    Across the street from Trout Creek, about half way to the next road crossing, I came across a gator in the middle of the trail. Not huge, but big enough to earn my respect. I yelled at it, hissed at it, charged at it, and tried to scare it away, but it wouldn't budge. I finally just rode around it.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Heading to Tampa area-gator.jpg  


  21. #21
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    Thanks again for the tips and advice chaps, look forward to riding again and in the sun as pointed out :-)

    Rgds

    Ant

  22. #22
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    Right I finally made it! Keeping an eye out on Craigslist and Ebay, based in Tarpon Springs so where do I head for a good Cannondale dealer in the Tampa area - need to get cycling :-)

    Thanks

    Ant

  23. #23
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    Every time I go visit the inlaws in Clearwater, I get a couple of rides in. I've done Alafia, Santos, Boyette and Carter. Each place is awesome. I always bring my 29er Stumpjumper FSR but I would do those trails on a hardtail in a second.
    The one time I rode Santos, I did the loops. How is that long trail that goes over the land bridge?
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  24. #24
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    DB, my inlaws are in Tarpon, so we're there regularly. I am directly East of you, in Lutz. The closest trails are the Flatwoods/Wilderness loops. plenty fun for the short times I can hit the trail. PM me and we can meet up.

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