Saturday, February 18, 2012

Riding Hard in Louisiana

English: Typical All Mountain Mountain BikeImage via Wikipedia
By Pat Walker

Bike riding in Louisiana is a challenge - there's a wide variety of terrain from hills to mangrove forests and swamps. Plus, there's also the climate; while nobody can exactly forget that Louisiana gets hot and sticky and humid, there are people who underprepare. Just remember to fill your canteen before you start, and refresh the sunscreen and insect repellent regularly. Don't forget to keep an eye out for local wildlife, though most prepared trails won't have much to speak of.

If you like a river-view, check out the Stoner Trail in the Shreveport area. It's got several different rides to choose from, and all are color coded for difficulty and well maintained. The 8 miles of track give something suitable for all but the most extreme levels of skills. There's even a local bike shop in the area, that hosts events.

Another Shreveport mountain biking destination is so called "Monkey Trail". It's in Eddy D Jones Park and regularly has a park ranger riding over it; there's a 10 mile loop with the first 7.5 miles of rolling hills that have some hard ascents and some hair raising descents. Rumor has it that the nickname comes from the agility needed to go up the hills; it's a nice technical challenge on the last quarter of the trail, but isn't so daunting that beginners need to stay home.

Lincoln Parrish Park near Ruston is one of Louisiana's best kept secrets. Surrounded by woods, this 10-mile loop features jumps, drops, climbs, descents, and lots of fast riding. There is something for everyone here, from beginners to experienced bikers. However, a lot of it is technical, so unless you're prepared to work on your skills, don't expect a leisurely ride here! There are a number of events held here throughout the year, so the track is always well-maintained.

The Lake Claiborne State Park near Homer has several miles of trails that involve a lot of climbing. The downhill sections are fast and short and then you'll be climbing again. Prepare for quite a workout! It's especially challenging after a rainfall when the trails are rather muddy. There are cabins available to rent nearby, if you want to stay in the area overnight.

In the southern half of the state, there's not as much biking terrain, largely because there aren't a wide variety of hills. One of the minor exceptions is near Baton Rouge, with Hooper Park Trails. This setup has eight miles of well maintained trails with interlocking loops covering a pleasant variety of terrain. Most of the trails are well maintained by the local mountain biking club, and they're mostly color coded for difficulty.

Bodcau near Bossier City is one of the best trails in Louisiana. There are 10 miles of several loops involving fast descents and long climbs. It may be too difficult for beginners. The climbs are tiring, but the incredibly speedy downhill sections are totally worth the effort!

Louisiana has a varied terrain with most of the hilly areas in the northern parts of the state, while the southern areas are more swampy and consist of marshlands. Naturally the better places to ride will be found in the north. The trails listed above are a great place to start when discovering everything Louisiana has to offer bikers of all levels of experience.

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Sunday, February 12, 2012

Gorgeous Kansas Terrain - Viewed Via The Bike Trails

English: Enjoying in Papuk riding bikeImage via Wikipedia
By Patricia J Walker

While Kansas is generally thought of as a large flat state, there are some areas around the perimeter of the state that do offer a little more variety of terrain, and these are the perfect locations for some great biking trails. Since many of these trails are also located near the state's border, they are a great draw for bikers in nearby states who want to check out the trails in Kansas. Consider visiting some of these trails for bikers from beginners to intermediate and advanced riders.

Many of the trails in Wilderness Park began as fire roads from a nearby coal mine by Pittsburg, Kansas-now abandoned. Most of this park is thick forest with a few lakes, making for some gorgeous scenic views. Trails range in difficulty with many of the more technical trails being somewhat out of the way and not very well-marked, but this does make the perfect place to go exploring. Choose from routes with flat terrain or rocky, hilly areas with lots of twists, turns, and rocks to navigate.

Jackson Park near Atchison has some fairly new trails with new stuff being added all the time. You can maps in town. These will help since not all the trails are well-marked. There are gravel sections, log climbs, and other technical things to make for an interesting ride. On top of that, the park itself is gorgeous! This area has a lot of potential.

Camp Horizon near Arkansas City is a network of trails overlooking the Arkansas River. There are some steep, technical climbs; very fast descents; rocky sections to navigate; drops; ramps; and much, much more! These trails are best suited for intermediate to advanced riders. Be sure to bring bug spray because the mosquitoes can be brutal!

Nine miles of fairly flat terrain at the River Trail will make speed demons ecstatic. Near Lawrence, this route is well ridden by lots of bikers, so stay alert for others, and plan to enjoy a few switchbacks, small climbs, and muddy spots thrown in for variety and good measure. If you choose not to go the complete 9-mile route, there are bail out areas along the way, as well.

Did you know that Perry State Park includes 15 miles of fantastic new biking trails-many of which overlook Lake Perry itself? Not many people do-yet! But this new area is sure to gain popularity rapidly with mounting biking fans. These trails weave through the forest and offer lots of exciting challenges-like roller coaster hills, tons of rocks, twists and turns, bone-chilling descents, and even creek crossings. With such an offering, these trails are made even more attractive by the fact that they are marked as to the difficulty and experience level riders should have before tackling each section and a great map to help you select the best route for you.

For another extreme biking adventure, head over to Manhattan to the Tuttle Spillway Cycle Area. This trail-set up originally for ATVs and motorcycles-is one of the best in Kansas and will give you a ride you'll never forget. Lots of steep drops will have you catching lots of air and loving every minute of it. Watch out for other trail users, though!

Try to avoid riding trails when the weather is wet and trails are muddy. Many of these trails can easily deteriorate, as they will erode if navigated while wet and muddy. Stay safe and safeguard the trails so you and other visitors can enjoy these trails for years to come!

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Monday, February 6, 2012

Great Places to Ride Your Bike in Florida

By Patricia J Williams

While avid bikers often think of tricky terrain as the ideal biking destination, Florida has much to offer beginning bikers and experts alike. Consider challenging yourself with muddy terrain, sand, and alligators!

Located not far from Sebring, Sun 'N' Lakes Park boasts five miles of rolling hill country trails perfect for novice bikers and seasoned veterans. Beginners will appreciate some of the nice dry trails while mid-level bikers will enjoy some of the obstacles that keep them from getting bored. And for the experts? Try tackling this terrain after a big rain and enjoy slipping and sliding in the mud! Be sure to pack bug spray, though. The insects can be vicious.

Balm Boyette is a great place for beginners to hone their skills. There are about 16-20 miles of various trails to choose from. Most of them are fairly flat, but with a few technical things like roots, sand, and rocks to make it challenging. The trails are fairly well marked, but it wouldnt hurt to have a map. Dont let the beginner status fool you! Bring plenty of water, because youll be in for quite a workout!

Dyer Park near West Palm Beach has something for everyone. There are several distinctly different trails. The park is located on an old landfill. The first trail is about 3 miles long and goes up and down the hill all the way around it. Its pretty challenging with hairpin turns and steep inclines. The second trail runs around the outer edge of the park, but there are several technical trails that shoot off of it. There are also paved and gravel roads for equestrians. These trails are great for intermediate riders, who can also work on their skills with some of the technical side trails.

If a loop of twists, turns, and technical difficulties-including trees, stumps, roots, leaves, mud, and sand-intrigues you, head over toward Fernandina to tackle the 7-mile trail at Fort Clinch. Plan to bring $5 for admission unless you prefer to park near the beach and come in on your bike. Fort Clinch offers vending machines and has restrooms on the property, as well. Watch for bike trail signs and follow them to ensure you don't get off on the wrong track, because there are some parts of the trail that can be a bit confusing.

Lakeland boasts a 6-mile hard packed track with exciting technical challenges including jumps, finger loops, roller coaster drops, and alligators! Called Carter Road, it was once the location for a phosphate mine, and it creates a complete loop.

Alafia, Florida features a 10-mile loop of fantastic technical and steep riding. The trails are well-maintained, but not always well-marked so you might want to get a map of the area first. There are restrooms nearby and there is a small fee for parking ($2-4). Most bikers in Florida agree, that Alafia is well worth your trip!

Beginning bikers and experienced thrill seekers alike will find some fantastic trails to explore in warm and sunny Florida. Just remember to bring plenty of water so you can stay hydrated. And have fun!

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