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  1. #1
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    Santos vs Alafia

    The horse isn't dead yet. lets beat it a little more.

    i have been biking for just about a year and live right at Santos. As I progress I am now attempting the red trails. I can almost clear Sinkhole but the others are a struggle. At times the rocky sections of Cowbone give me problems.

    This past weekend I tried Alafia. I had heard that Santos reds were way tougher "more technical"

    So first trail I try is Moonscape. Almost had to change my shorts as I looked down the first drop.

    Granted there are some steep (for me ) drops on Ern and Burn at Santos but they are short. I'm not sure why i freaked out at Alafia. Maybe it was the length of the drops not the angle ?

    Anyway I walked most of Moonscape while my friend's 18 year old stud son pretty much tore up everything at Alafia.

    Frank's Loop at Alafia, nothing like that at Santos either. The hairpin turn to the right coupled with the nasty swamp you will swim in (if you miss the turn) is just incredible. Again I chickened out and walked the steps which led to the sharp right turn.

    Even Shelly's Loop was an issue. Not too steep but the addition of a new type of terrain (concrete blocks) did a head trip on me.

    So yes, Santos has Vortex drops and tough trails but Alafia was a step above in some respects with the presence of swamp all over the place and the long steep drops.

    On the other hand no practice area at Alafia with pump track etc.

    I will be checking out Boyette soon and hopefully I can ride it a bit more than Alafia.

    Do any of you better riders who have been to both Santos and Alafia have an idea as to why i had issues with Alafia as i can ride Ern and Burn, Sinkhole, much of John Brown etc?

    I keep replaying it in my head and ask "why did I have such a problem?" I just cannot get my head around it.

    Maybe just nerves being at a new site ??

  2. #2
    Papa T
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    Heading to Alafia for the first time this weekend. I have been riding for just over 20 years and I have ridden Santos area trails for about 15 of those and have seen those trails evolve from single semi-legal trails to a valued trail system in that time. My opinion on the trails you mention, Ern n Burn, Sinkhole and John Brown, are that those are really "blue" trails. The Vortex trail is definitely the most technical in my mind with exposure, climbs and lots of variation in the technical areas and therefore probably compares the most favorably to the ones at Alafia. I think from what you said about Alafia, that those tech trails are head and shoulders above the ones you listed at Santos when it comes to technical skills required. Of course, the first time you ride a new trail, it is "new" and therefore your decision making on new sections will be a little reserved unless you are young and do not think of the consequences as typically most teens and tweens do.
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Numb Bum View Post
    Heading to Alafia for the first time this weekend. I have been riding for just over 20 years and I have ridden Santos area trails for about 15 of those and have seen those trails evolve from single semi-legal trails to a valued trail system in that time. My opinion on the trails you mention, Ern n Burn, Sinkhole and John Brown, are that those are really "blue" trails. The Vortex trail is definitely the most technical in my mind with exposure, climbs and lots of variation in the technical areas and therefore probably compares the most favorably to the ones at Alafia. I think from what you said about Alafia, that those tech trails are head and shoulders above the ones you listed at Santos when it comes to technical skills required. Of course, the first time you ride a new trail, it is "new" and therefore your decision making on new sections will be a little reserved unless you are young and do not think of the consequences as typically most teens and tweens do.
    Thanks for your feedback. If you could PM me after your visit to Alafia I'd appreciate it. i'd like your take on Moonscape and Frank's Loop. Yes the Vortex loopp is way above John Brown. I suppose John Brown and Sinkhole are sort of like Alafia black diamond designation and Vortex Loop like the Double Black Diamond (Moonscape.)

    Regarding age: I'm 59 but in my head 30 at times. When i first started riding I rode off the qualifier at the Vortex entrace (25th Ave ) and sustained a 3rd degree shoulder seperation along with 4 fractured ribs. To this day i walk over the Vortex qualifier. I know it's in my head and at some point I'll conquer it !

    Thanks again.

    BTW: Here is a nice video of Frank'sLoop

    ALAFIA RIVER STATE PARK, FRANK'S LOOP - YouTube

  4. #4
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    I compare some of the trails you mentioned in Alafaia to Markham park especially Gun Range I was you the first time I rode there. But now I do ride everything there. I think it was the initial "new" trail that got to you. Moonscape can be sketchy though if you are not up to it. I think the Vortex trail is technical but not Alafia Technical although the drops there are very scary if you have not done them. I think if you go back you will do better.
    Your big wheels are so awesome!

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Badpichu View Post
    I compare some of the trails you mentioned in Alafaia to Markham park especially Gun Range I was you the first time I rode there. But now I do ride everything there. I think it was the initial "new" trail that got to you. Moonscape can be sketchy though if you are not up to it. I think the Vortex trail is technical but not Alafia Technical although the drops there are very scary if you have not done them. I think if you go back you will do better.
    Thanks. I plan on returning to Alafia very soon. I WILL clear Moonscape eventually. I am not one to give up or give in. Just don't want any more broken bones.

  6. #6
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    Ironically, Alafia is nowhere near as technical as it used to be imho. That said, its a great trail system and flows better now than ever. I love Santos too, but they are very different. The thing that always gave Santos the edge for me was the freeride stuff in the vortex, but as far as xc trails go I do think Alafia is a little bit more challenging. On the other hand, with the parking lot so centralized, I tend to take more breaks are Alafia too. New additions to Alafia are making it "new" again for me (ie the new wood work, new entrance to Rollercoaster etc.
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  7. #7
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    1 year of riding is not long, so it sounds like you are doing fine.
    I'm in my 4th year and have learned / improved my skills significantly the last year.
    Also helps to ride often, 5 x week on average for me now.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by jayjudy13 View Post
    Ironically, Alafia is nowhere near as technical as it used to be imho. That said, its a great trail system and flows better now than ever. I love Santos too, but they are very different. The thing that always gave Santos the edge for me was the freeride stuff in the vortex, but as far as xc trails go I do think Alafia is a little bit more challenging. On the other hand, with the parking lot so centralized, I tend to take more breaks are Alafia too. New additions to Alafia are making it "new" again for me (ie the new wood work, new entrance to Rollercoaster etc.
    What new entrance the only one I know of is next to the moonscape entrance...
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  9. #9
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    I'm in the opposite situation from the OP. I've only been riding for about one year, but I started riding at Alafia and Balm Boyette. I ride one of those locations once a week. I will tell you up front that I am a solid "blue" rider and I can do some black diamond trails at my "home" trails with minimal or no walking. I have never attempted Moonscape. My first trip to Santos was in February. I rode everything from the Santos Trailhead one day, and then everything on the Vortex side the next day, but I walked a few things on the red trails, especially Vortex.

    That being said, my first impression was that Santos seemed "easier". I would definitely say that "blue" at Santos is easier than "blue" at Alafia. I can see how you were spooked at Alafia, especially Moonscape! I would have suggested not trying that trail. I still really enjoy Santos because it's bigger and more spread out. It feels more like what "mountain biking" should be. Just my opinion.

    Also, I have ridden at several other trails in Florida, and I always get spooked the first time down a new trail. I know the trails at Alafia and I know where to go and what to do. I think it's the unknowns that get in your head, but that's good. I'd rather be cautious than end up in the hospital.

    Have fun.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by 11trk4300 View Post
    What new entrance the only one I know of is next to the moonscape entrance...
    I consider that entrance by moonscape more of a connector trail, i'm referring to further back past there, there's another rollercoaster sign... and just past it is all the new red clay, its like a pump track and there's even a couple little jumps in there now. It's not exactly the entrance, its just the beginning of the technical section.
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by jayjudy13 View Post
    I consider that entrance by moonscape more of a connector trail, i'm referring to further back past there, there's another rollercoaster sign... and just past it is all the new red clay, its like a pump track and there's even a couple little jumps in there now. It's not exactly the entrance, its just the beginning of the technical section.
    Is there a way to bypass what you called the connector trail and get straight to the fun part?
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by 11trk4300 View Post
    Is there a way to bypass what you called the connector trail and get straight to the fun part?
    Not as far as I know...
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by 11trk4300 View Post
    Is there a way to bypass what you called the connector trail and get straight to the fun part?
    No, unless you ride or drive up the horse trail. The SWAMP workers drive back there to do trail work. I know that area quite well because I've walked out from there twice - once with a broken collarbone and once with a broken bike.

    I was there the weekend they built those new features, and the long flat run up to the new section is part of the design. It's used to build speed before getting to the jumps. I don't use the jumps the way they were intended, too old, I guess , but I watched some of the "younger" crowd get some pretty good air in that area.

    Have fun.
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