Florida riders, how do you think you'd do in the mountains?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Florida riders, how do you think you'd do in the mountains?

    Something I was wondering about today. I'm out riding the typical flat stuff that's closest to me and realize that I'm getting winded while pushing fast through some singletrack. I thought to myself "if I feel out-of-shape riding this flat singletrack, how would I do climbing the mountains that I'm always reading about on MTBR?!"

    Granted, we all know that Florida has climbing ... but its not sustained climbing. And we certainly have technical stuff (Moonscape/Gatorback at Alafia, John Henry at Alafia, all of Razorback, etc),technical stuff that's probably as difficult or more difficult than alot of stuff we read about on here ... but our tech stuff usually doesn't come amidst alot of climbing. I wonder if the riding that we're used to has developed the lungs and endurance needed to really tackle some sustained climbing?

    Whaddyathink, would you be up to it?

    (pic attached for the heck of it, from Toe a couple of years ago)
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    ... and if we just ...

    From South Florida, we do chartered bus trips to Tsali, Pisgah, ans Tanasi 4 to 5 times a year and usually do pretty well for the most part. Sustained climbing to me is like road riding....pick a comfortable gear and pace and ride it. Most of the stuff up there is not as technical as what we ride down here, nor as rooty, but for all that climbing.....you get those nice sustained downhills that we only get very short spurts of. We just got back from Tsali a month ago and that place just flows and flows. There's a few tougher climbs but the most part you climb some and you drop some probably 200 - 400 feet at a whack and the more sustained climbs are rewarded with some sweet downhills when you let the brakes go! Mr. Garmin said 37 Max on the Thompson's downhill run, Pisgah is similar but more varied with all kinds of riding usually not as fast and swoopy as Tsali but really very different trail personalities. Bent Creek has some sweet climbs ans an awesome downhill run at Green's Lick. DuPont Forest has Slickrock and Burnt Mountain and a bunch more trails I haven't ridden yet, Tanasi is absolutely awesome just across the border in Tenneessee, kinda like Tsali on steroids. East of Asheville is Kitsuma's killer run and Heartbreak Ridge off of Mount Mitchell is another mini epic. There is so much riding there that you could take a month off and ride every day and not catch it all.

    It's mountain biking versus trail riding. I love our trails here, but the mountains are....THE MOUNTAINS!

    Nice shot of the TOE....R.I.P.
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  3. #3
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    When I go up there the climbs are granny all the way, slow spinning up. It sucks but is well worth it on the trip down. I also tend to try to pick trails that are solid climbs up then solid downhills to the bottom. Forget that climb, decent, climb, decent type trail. I like to get the climmbing out of the way first. And if you are tired of climbing you can always get off and push, and at the speed I climb pushing usually isn't much slower, LOL.

    I'm going to have to disagree on what mtb777 said. There are trails in Pisgah that will put Florida to shame technically. Some of those DHs are solid root strewn rock gardens that are perpetually wet with a very small margin for error. Tsali isn't technical at all but I don't even bother to go there anymore, been there done that. If I am going to the mountains I want some big elevation chages and sweet singletrack. Not a big dirt sidewalk next to some lake. I go straight to Pisgah/Dupont... Brevard.

  4. #4
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    I was up in Norther AZ about 2 weeks ago, around 6000ft. I do have the experience of being a california native and knowing what climbing is like. In my opinion, my first of two rides in Prescott, I got my @ss handed to me, more by the elevation then anything else. The second one was better and we did about 20 miles with only a few truly extended climbs.

    It's not a hard concept to learn, you just have to get used to serious fatigue and stretching the legs on the way down so they are fresh for the next climb. You just gotta sit and spin, sit and spin.
    Floridas Other Crazy White Guy....http://www.swampclub.org/smf/index.php

  5. #5

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    elevation

    Carnage mentioned elevation, and I am skeered of how I will feel at 11,000 feet after spending 2 years at sea level. In NJ, I was a good solid climber in the foothills, we concentrated on pushing hard gears to carry speed up. I spent almost 2 years in NorCal, and climbing in the foothills was no problem, but once you go up into the sierras, performance goes way down. Now having been down here at 3 feet above sea level for an extended time, CO scares me. So many people down here are roadies as well as mtb'rs that I am sure most people do well when riding on the ups someplace low, like GA and NC. Has anyone from FL been up to a high elevation to ride? How was it?

  6. #6

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    I have family in Charlotte and our family bought a house near Pisgah a couple of years ago. While its definitely a different animal, its all reasonably do-able for a in-shape flatlander. A couple of weeks ago I took my SS up to charlotte and had a blast, not much I couldnt ride at USWC....but was wiped at the end of the day. While I am in shape, I dont consider myself experienced at all. Only been riding consistently for about a year and on SS for a few months...

  7. #7
    Surfin' da mountain
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    Just 'cause we live in FL doesn't mean we're limited to riding there. I've been on a few chartered trips from SoFl to the West North Carolina area with mtb777 and others. Last summer I rode in California, Colorado and Eastern Utah. Before that I went on an Escape Adventures tour and out climbed people I've never met before from mountain states. Before that on a trip to Hawaii, I rode there, albeit on a rental Kona FS bike, but in the Kohala Mountains on the Big Island.

    On another subject, I have to agree with mtb777, the average FL XC trail is more technical compared to else where because we don't have those sustained climbs and downhills. Every mile needs to count. The 401 trail in Crested Butte is a smooth, non-technical ribbon of downhill bliss and considered an Epic Ride. In flat SoFL the 401 Trail would be boring. Engineer Mountain in CO, Dark Hollow in Brianhead, UT and Kitzuma in Pisgah are some of the most fun trails ever ridden if you love screaming downhill through the trees, but none of them are very technical. Like just about everyone, I had to walk a few places on Porcupine Rim. I've only been intimidated by Blow Hard in West UT and Tick Canyon in SoCAL and attribute that to the level of bike handling you need to ride in FL. Friends in SoFL who rode Whistler last summer said that place is way more technical than FL. I'm sure you can find a few places in WNC that are more technical than FL also, but on average, FL is more technical.

    I don't judge the quality of a trail by its technical challenge, but by its fun factor. So how do Floridians do in the real mountains and am I up to it? In 30 days I will be arriving in Denver with my bike, hell yeah I'm up to it and so are you! Ride on Dave!

    Another advantage to living in FL, you can ride and go to the beach the same day, year round.
    And not everything is flat in Florida!
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cucucachu
    And not everything is flat in Florida!
    More pics please?

  9. #9
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    I go up to Mammoth (peak is 11k feet, town is around 7.5k feet) about once a year and to be honest, I don't feel that winded, but while I'm there, I"m going downhill about 90% of the time and using the lifts to get me to the top. I've found that trails in Florida tend to do a good job and getting one good at technical riding, but that sustained climbing is only done with practice that we just can't get much of down here.

  10. #10
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    Another advantage to living in FL, you can ride and go to the beach the same day, year round.
    And not everything is flat in Florida![/QUOTE]


    Dang , I would love to ride in those mountains!!!

  11. #11
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    I work at a shop here in Park City, UT and we have a lot of Florideans (sp??) come by...they all tell me they're in great shape and want to do a 30 mile epic on their first day. Well that lasts for about 8 miles and then they come back! Seriously, there's no doubt most of you guys who ride can handle sustained climbs but altitude is a *****. Unfortunately, around here you gotta climb EVERYWHERE..unless you ride the lift stuff but whatever. I had a hard time my first season out here coming from New England because all my trails up north were short bursts of climbing...with off camber roots, rocks everywhere and mud like a *****. Out here you just switchbacks like a mother....

  12. #12
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    What are mountains?
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  13. #13
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    You should be in shape to climb mountains (like Vinokourov).

    When I used to race I did well the further north I went. I did poorly at places like Hanna Park and Markham because they are too flat and too fast.

    Personally I do better in the mountains. Riding about an hour east of Seattle, we climbed 3000 feet of dirt doubletrack. Fontana, Amasa Back, Utah's G.E.M. trail (800 feet altitude gain in 6 miles) are other trails I've ridden with lots of climbing. I'm not a climber and I hate going up, but it seems I am good at it.

    I guess we need to build a trail up the side of that Mt. Trashmore I keep passing on I-95 near Ft. Lauderdale!


  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by WolverineGator
    I guess we need to build a trail up the side of that Mt. Trashmore I keep passing on I-95 near Ft. Lauderdale!
    Good call!! Everytime I go by those lovely piles of garbage I picture them in 10 years with slopstyle, "DH", and switchbacks all over them. The "florida mountains" will eventually be converted to recreation areas, similar to Dyer park and a project near Ft. Pierce.

    As for riding in the mountains/high elevation. I think acclimatizing (sp??) is definately a good idea for extreme altitude, but for around a mile up I think it's not much of a factor, although I have no evidence to back that up, just a hunch.

    The times I've been to Pisgah I have been completely exhausted on my climb up Black mountain, which I think totals around 2000' in ~8 miles. Dupont is much more gradual and has more "up and down" to it. I did Pisgah first day, felt dead, then did Dupont second day and felt great.

  15. #15
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    Although I'm not in Fl (I'm in central AL) I agree that if you don't climb a lot, then you are at a disadvantage. Especially if you don't road bike. I think that it's in the differnt power out put profiles that you would have for a flattish XC trail & one with a 3 mile climb. The flat trail would require a less steady output than the long climb would. More similar to a series of short high power sprints than a steady hard effort.
    The standing eight count & three knockdown rules are in effect on this trail.

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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by WolverineGator
    When I used to race I did well the further north I went. I did poorly at places like Hanna Park and Markham because they are too flat and too fast.

    Personally I do better in the mountains. Riding about an hour east of Seattle, we climbed 3000 feet of dirt doubletrack. Fontana, Amasa Back, Utah's G.E.M. trail (800 feet altitude gain in 6 miles) are other trails I've ridden with lots of climbing. I'm not a climber and I hate going up, but it seems I am good at it.

    I guess we need to build a trail up the side of that Mt. Trashmore I keep passing on I-95 near Ft. Lauderdale!


    F.O.R.C.E., a new Palm Beach mountain bike club has gotten permission from Palm Beach County Parks to rebuild the trails on Mount Trashmore (Dyer Park) so that is a wish with fullfillment in the works! They also care for PineHurst trails just south of Okeeheelee Park too! A good bunch of riders.
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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by FloridaFish
    Good call!! Everytime I go by those lovely piles of garbage I picture them in 10 years with slopstyle, "DH", and switchbacks all over them. The "florida mountains" will eventually be converted to recreation areas, similar to Dyer park and a project near Ft. Pierce.

    As for riding in the mountains/high elevation. I think acclimatizing (sp??) is definately a good idea for extreme altitude, but for around a mile up I think it's not much of a factor, although I have no evidence to back that up, just a hunch.

    The times I've been to Pisgah I have been completely exhausted on my climb up Black mountain, which I think totals around 2000' in ~8 miles. Dupont is much more gradual and has more "up and down" to it. I did Pisgah first day, felt dead, then did Dupont second day and felt great.

    A good Pisgah first day ride would bee something like Laurel Mountain which is an up and down gradual climb going up about 2000? or so that can be done as an out and back or linked with the fun Pilot Rock downhill to feed your need for speed! There are some trails you can shuttle to avoid not so much the climb (LIAR) but get more speed time in! If you are there for a long weekend, you'll want to optimize your time. Black Mountain IS a kick of a climb. Kitsuma at the other Black Mountain east of Asheville also has a kick your tail 1200? foot climb with 12 or so technical swithchbacks and a nice reward after it. I still disagree about Tsali being lame as it's very fast and flowy but, yes it's not technical, but I think it's a great starter ride(s) for a mountain newbie. You can't beat the views and every time I go there, It gets faster!
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  18. #18
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    I have never mountain biked with anyone from FL, but I am always impressed how well the flatlanders handle the N.Georgia mountains on their road bikes.

  19. #19
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    What's a road bike??
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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtb777
    A good Pisgah first day ride would bee something like Laurel Mountain which is an up and down gradual climb going up about 2000? or so that can be done as an out and back or linked with the fun Pilot Rock downhill to feed your need for speed! There are some trails you can shuttle to avoid not so much the climb (LIAR) but get more speed time in! If you are there for a long weekend, you'll want to optimize your time. Black Mountain IS a kick of a climb. Kitsuma at the other Black Mountain east of Asheville also has a kick your tail 1200? foot climb with 12 or so technical swithchbacks and a nice reward after it. I still disagree about Tsali being lame as it's very fast and flowy but, yes it's not technical, but I think it's a great starter ride(s) for a mountain newbie. You can't beat the views and every time I go there, It gets faster!
    Would you recommend this to some one who's about to hit Pisgah for the first time?
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    Which one? Tsali is west of Asheville by about an hour and consists of 2 bigger loops that are ridden on alternating days. so 2 days of riding there to catch every thing there. Ummm, DuPont Forest is a good ride(30 mins. away from Asheville)...Cedar Rock trail is Slickrock (nice climbs, views, and downhill runs that are fun and not crazy)which is usually linked with Burnt Mountain which has some climbs and steeps with a nice downhill with a steep chute followed by a triple drop at the end that's got some pucker power. Laurel Mountain is one of my favorite moderate ride that gets some steep climbing at the very top. Pilot rock has some loose slate switchbacks at the top and some fast decending back down to the forest road which there's another loop you can catch on the way out (Pilot something). Bent Creek has some nice riding....Ingles Field gap trail is a steepish climb and a really quick decent...with Green's Lick as the new DHish run from the top that all about speed and whoops and wallrides....link that back over to Ingles field for the down and you've got a really nice loop. Trace Ridge...Daniels Ridge....in Pisgah...and others just around the corner are good too. There is SO much riding around there it's CRAZY! it's all good and it's different in it's own ways! Get a National Geographic Trail Map of the Pisgah area and every thing is all around there. Dupont is not on that map but just off the edge. It's all close.
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  22. #22
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    Is there a trail map for Kitsuma? I have hiked up to the peak from the Trail head many times and even tried to Mt Bike it once about 8 years ago with my wife. She was not into that and of coarse when we got to the top there was no way she was making that drop. The ride back down the switch backs was a blast for me though - although I am sure this is not the customary route.

    My question is, were does the trial go from the top? Do you end up back at the TH parking lot? From the top it looked like it just dropped off into a vally opposit I-40 and going away from the TH.

  23. #23
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    i just got back from a week of drinking in orlando and i love your state .... thinking of doing my parks and rec internship down there if my school can hook it up, im from northern california.
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  24. #24
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    The trail once at the top has a rock garden and couple of more short climbs and the trail follows the ridge line (backbone?) along till it starts dropping and steeply follows the contour lines down to the Old Fort Park(?) which is a nice picinic area. You are lucky you didn't take the wifey down that trail as you might be divorced or a widower if she's not an intermediate rider at the least. It's about a 6 mile trail+/- total. From the park at the bottom ride out the to road (sharp)left over the little bridge and ride back up the dirt road to the trailhead and Ridgecrest. If the wife could pick you up at the park at the bottom you could shuttle it...!!!!
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  25. #25
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    Thanks, I may be planning a trip up to that area in the early fall and was debating about were to go and what trails to ride. My Bro-in-Law lives in Cleveland Tn. and I know there are some interesting trails back toward NC on Hwy 64 around the Ocoee area, so I am still undecided about where to target.

  26. #26
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    I'm a bigger guy, 6'0" 200lbs and I can be competitive in Fl races by virtue of brute force. But put me in the mountains and I get my a$$ handed to me.

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrm1
    Thanks, I may be planning a trip up to that area in the early fall and was debating about were to go and what trails to ride. My Bro-in-Law lives in Cleveland Tn. and I know there are some interesting trails back toward NC on Hwy 64 around the Ocoee area, so I am still undecided about where to target.

    Man you're THERE!


    On the weekend of Sept. 6th, we'll have a busload right there at the Ocoee White Water Center ( Tanasi trails) which is MY favorite riding in the southeast! ALL of the trails at Tanasi (indian name for Tenneessee)are great....it's like Tsali on steriods. Go to the WWC visitor's center and get a (nice, free) trail map. Thunder Road Express is the downhilliest fun you'll have. It's NOT a DH trail with big jumps, it's just fast, packed, bermy singletrack. There's a couple of ways up to it....the trail to the left across the bridge is a little steep but fun and all of the trails up around the top are good as well. Can't remember the names, but they are all very well taken care of that's for sure. The fast way up is up the road to the right and across a short little connector trail and come into it from the back. There is a trail on the same side as the parking lot and the visitor's center that was just redone last year and it's a really nice trail too...it's just up the road alittle...it's on the map, too! OWWC is where the Atlanta Summer Olympic Kayaking games took place...it's a very nice facility.

    Just BEFORE Tanasi Trails maybe 6 or 7 miles near the dam is a place called Chillhowee, which has another 25 or 30 miles of trails that are fun and varied trails. They are a little more natural that tanasi but are fun none the less. There's a campground up at the top and a couple of trails that lead right off the road that are mostly downhill that come out onto 64 that you can shuttle right back up to the top if you have a driver available. You can pack a few 30 minute runs in pretty quick that way...or ride around all the trails up top and make a day of it there. Definetly get a map of that area as the trails are not as well marked as Tanasi. Again, National Geographic has different maps that cover these various areas pretty well.....they are not that detailed but you can get and keep a good idea where you are and where you want to be. They are good for making notes and hilighting different rides. That's what I use them for. The LBS are good too...they sometimes have maps available or you can tag along for a ride sometimes if they're going out.


    Remember kids!
    Fall time is Bear time ....so a little bell on your bike is a good thing or get a little bear horn. Had a run in with one one time....it's their turf! Ride noisy....you don't want to startle them or run away away either ....they like to chase!! It's fun for them........stand your ground and look BIG!!
    My best tip is to ALWAYS RIDE WITH SOMEONE SLOWER THAN YOU!!
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  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by submerged
    I'm a bigger guy, 6'0" 200lbs and I can be competitive in Fl races by virtue of brute force. But put me in the mountains and I get my a$$ handed to me.
    Do NOT feel alone on that! I'm 6'-0" and 225 on a good day....and what makes you faster in one direction will slow you down the other!!! Gravity can be a *****!
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  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtb777
    Man you're THERE!

    On the weekend of Sept. 6th, we'll have a busload right there at the Ocoee White Water Center ( Tanasi trails) ...
    So I am guessing, the Tanasi trails are your picks That would be the easiest as my BnL lives very close. Where is your group coming up from? Is that a florida riders tour?

    Are these the right Maps and Trails ? (am i in the right place?)

    Quote Originally Posted by mtb777
    ... My best tip is to ALWAYS RIDE WITH SOMEONE SLOWER THAN YOU!!
    Man that would be me.

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