Mountain Biking In Miami|
Tuesday, June 01, 2004
I know when I think of mountain biking, Florida is not one of the first places that comes to mind. Utah, Colorado, Arizona, etc. etc. There are possibly as many as 49 states that I would consider mountain biking hot spots before Florida. But I was FLAT wrong.
On a recent trip to the sunshine state, I had my eyes opened to the exhilaration of riding among the flatlanders. The entire state of Florida is at or near sea level making words like "climb" and "downhill" are nonexistent in the Florida mountain biker's vocabulary. But what they lack in hills, they more than make up for in fun.
|Photo: Troy Hopwood |
|Oleta River offers some of the best riding in the state. |
The undisputed best ride in the Miami area and possibly the state is Oleta River. These trails were designed for mountain bikers and quite literally offer something for everyone. From crushed coral covered service roads to technical and tight singletrack.
The singletrack is clearly marked by skill level though I found their ratings to be a little to soft. Start out with an easy trail to gauge your skills then ramp up the adrenaline from there. If you're an advanced rider, you'll want to ride all the trails anyway. The trails are all designed for one-way traffic and are clearly marked with trailhead signs and do not enter signs where appropriate.
Riding on trails clearly marked for mountain bikes is an incredible experience. Because there is no concern of hikers or oncoming cyclists riders are free to ride as fast as they want. Though with the tight turns, slick roots, thick mud and deep sand you won't be going all that fast. These trails are more a test of skill than a test of speed.
If you're not from the Southeast, you should be made aware of the weather. Miami, not surprisingly, can get extremely hot. But what you may not be aware of is the severity of the Florida rain storms. When it rains in Florida it REALLY RAINS! Downpours tend to be short-lived, but tremendous. In a matter of seconds the trail can go from bone dry to hub-deep puddles. You haven't been wet until you've been Miami wet.
The Oleta River area is not particularly large and water takes up a large portion of the preserve but the trail makers have done an excellent job maximizing the trail mileage. By twisting the trails back onto itself like a perverted pretzel over and over again throughout the park, you can ride for miles in this confined area. There are over seven miles of trails to choose from.
There's probably no more than 5 feet of elevation gain in the park, but the trails are designed to go up and down this 5 feet often. Often times, the trail will cut sharply around a tree, unexpectedly climb a couple feet, cut quickly around another tree, cross over roots and drop back down off a rock ledge.
Because these trails were designed for mountain bikers there is also a bike wash in the parking lot. After a long ride here, you will definitely need this. The sand and mud can be quite a toxic mix for bicycles so be sure to take advantage of this perk.
These trails are extremely popular and thus very crowded. It is not uncommon to see a line of 10 or more cars waiting for the park gates to open at 10:00.
Don't forget to bring your wallet. There is a $3.00 per person or $5.00 per car fee to enter the park.
If you find yourself heading down to the Miami area, be sure to bring your bike to check out this Florida Gem.